In Paris, pharmacies marked by a bright green cross, are as prevalent as cafés. These are venerated establishments and qualified people in white lab coats still answer questions and prescribe remedies for various ailments. At one time, customers could seek out these French pharmacies for bespoke remedies—custom creams and dietary supplements created in a small room called an officine. These days, though, that service is harder and harder to come by—in today’s harried world of quick fixes, it simply takes too much time.
Two French siblings, Amandine and Julien Azencott, are bringing the tradition back with their highly customized skincare line, CODAGE. At their flagship in Paris’s Marais, customers sit down with an aesthetician who examines their skin and a formulist with a degree in pharmacy preparation creates a custom serum in the boutique’s glass laboratory. CODAGE, which translates to “coding,” specializes in creating these bespoke face serums, which can contain up to 70 percent active ingredients (moisturizing creams typically only have about 15 to 20 percent) using unique doses of active ingredients, including minerals and plant extracts, that respond directly to their client’s skincare needs. Clients can also choose between 14 “ready-to-wear” serums that range from a formula for anti-aging to one that helps with blemishes. Explains Amandine, “You can be 35 and have normal skin, but why do you need the same product as your girlfriend [if] you don’t have the same lifestyle?”
Amandine encourages customers to create their own custom approach at home by building a collection of ready-to-wear serums to mix and match on the fly—pairing, for example, an intense moisturizing serum and an anti-redness serum on a particularly frigged day or applying a radiance and energy formula after a night of little sleep. “When the weather changes, you’re going to adapt what you wear. It should be the same with skincare,” she says. All CODAGE products—they also make day and night creams and an eye serum—can be used by men and women. (Their subtle smell of almond, vanilla, and jasmine works well on both.)
Amandine and Julien were born in Nice, where the CODAGE laboratory is located today. Their enviable olive skin and youthful appearances may be enough to convince you to try their products, but this line of work is also in their blood. They come from a family of doctors, dermatologists, and pharmacists and after embarking on studies separately (Julien in Paris and Argentina and Amandine in California), they met up in L.A. and came up with the brand. “People say, ‘You’re working with your brother—is it tough? Do you fight?’ At first we fought a lot,” laughs Amandine.
Their Marais boutique, located on pedestrian-only Rue du Trésor, opened last fall. The shop resembles a modern apothecary with parquet floors, copper wall inserts, a marble countertop, and black-and-white graphics inspired by the periodic table of elements (each represents one of the 23 elements used to compose the brand’s products). Customers can purchase serums, have a free diagnostic, or even get a facial at the discreet location, chosen in part to accommodate celebrity clients who want to slip in and out unnoticed.
Their old-school approach seems to have taken off in today’s modern world, and already the Azencott’s are expanding. CODAGE’s first spa opens this month at the new Le Roch Hotel and Spa near Place Vendôme. This winter, 15 more CODAGE spas are planned to start servicing as many five-star hotels throughout France. (One of the most prestigious locations is at the Domaine Du Mont D’Arbois, a Rothschild-owned chalet hotel in the aristocratic ski town Megève, where it’s replacing a Sisley Spa.) And, they’ll be opening their first stateside boutique in New York City next year.
As expected, CODAGE’S spa treatments will be just as personalized: Consider the Haut Couture body treatment, in which every part of the body is treated in a targeted manner with massages to improve aesthetics, reduce stress, or stimulate drainage. “We just want to go back to the service notion where you take care of the client and sit down with someone to understand his or her needs,” says Amandine.
It’s a simple idea, and far from a new one, but that doesn’t make it any less refreshing.
CODAGE Paris is located at 8 Rue du Trésor; 33-01/40-27-80-09.