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An Oral History of Guerlain Météorites Pearls, the Marvel 'All Powders In One Powder'

In this series, we will take a look at the historical evolution of how iconic beauty products came into existence and grew so popular that they became cultural touchstones in their own right.

Guerlain Météorites Pearls of Powder first launched in 1987 with one primary goal: To combine the efforts of various makeup powders (from color-corrector to illuminating, to mattifying and setting) into one cohesive product. The iconic powder spheres have now been given a 2024 transformation — one with an updated scent, a range of shade options and naturally derived ingredients. But let’s go back to the beginning: Where did the pearl powder concept come from, and how did these elegant makeup droplets become so storied?

“For nearly 200 years, Guerlain has innovated in the beauty space and surprises again with Météorites,” says Ann Caroline Prazan, Guerlain’s in-house director of art, culture and heritage. The Météorites were — and remain — a tour de force at Guerlain for their innovation, as well as melding form and function. “Météorites’ historic mission of [combining] ‘all powders in one powder’ was no longer to just deliver color, but to impart luminosity — [the pearls’] ability to reflect light is key,” says Prazan.

Photo: Courtesy of Guerlain

And here’s exactly how they work: The pearls were originally designed to even out skin tone and provide multi-dimensional radiance. The pink pearls are for a healthy glow, while the green ones corrects redness, mauve work to highlight and white nacre to illuminate. “They are a combination of matte and pearlescent, which contain particles of gold for a subtle shimmer,” says Prazan. Together, the blend of colors reflects light on the face unlike any other powder on the market. They essentially act as a prism for your complexion.

When revisiting the pearls in 2024, makeup artist and Guerlain Makeup Creative Director Violette wanted to keep the original goal of luminosity top of mind. “While advancements in beauty technology offer incredible possibilities, it was essential to honor the original concept,” she tells Fashionista. “[This original concept] was all about revealing the luminosity of the skin and was inspired by the glow of the planet and the stars — it reminded me of when people are charismatic, they have this glow you can’t explain, and I felt like that was exactly what this product should do.”

With this in mind, the team meticulously re-conceptualized Météorites into four different shade sets (three, in addition to the original version), or what Violette refers to as “harmonies.” They include Cool, a blend of pastel pigments (this is the original); Warm, a blend of lavender, terracotta and pastel pink; and Amber, a mix of brown, taupe and vibrant rose. With the product’s 2024 relaunch, Violette created a fourth shade option, Pearly White, which combines true white, pastel rose and pale beige pearls for illumination. The various shades can also be mixed and matched — depending on whether you’re going for a softer look or a highlight-targeted finish. “The harmonies are not restricted to specific skin tones, they transcend them,” says Violette.

Photo: Courtesy of Guerlain

The 2024 Météorites are also made up of two types of complimentary pearls: One is colored and spherical, and works to give a multi-dimensional radiance to the skin by reflecting natural light; the other is silver and flat, and reflects cool tones to help radiate light over time. The combination of the two creates an illuminating blend that guarantees a veil of glow for up to 12 hours, per the brand. “Each pearl has a purpose and must be designed to support that purpose from pigment intensity to finish. It’s very specific work, so it took us years to do,” says Violette. The updated formula also includes 95% naturally derived ingredients, a choice that aligns with the brand’s current pledge to biodiversity and sustainability.

But despite these changes, the integrity of the product remains the same as it was 37 years ago upon its first launch. “Our Météorites are still produced the same way since their inception: Their ingredients are skillfully blended by expert hands into microparticles, which are sized and mixed in Guerlain’s factory,” says Prazan. She adds that just four artisans worldwide have mastered the technique required to produce the pearls.

Photo: Courtesy of Guerlain

Aside from its beloved appearance and performance, the product is also known for its signature powdery floral scent. “The scent of Météorites has never changed — the fragrance has always been a powdery violet since Météorites first existed,” says Delphine Jelk, the company’s in-house perfumer.

For the 2024 version, though, the brand decided to reinterpret the classic scent to bring an air of sensuality and modernity to the pearls. Jelk explains that it was important to keep the signature violet note, but that she decided to add a twist of sandalwood for a woodier finish. “For me, sandalwood expresses the light that Violette wanted to highlight,” Jelk tells Fashionista. “Sandalwood is a sacred wood that promotes meditation and helps express light in each person. To create this aura, it was an obvious choice to [have sandalwood] accompany this light and give glow through the Météorites.”

Another striking aspect of Météorites is the iconic case that the pearls come in. According to the brand, the original case was inspired by a compact adorned with agates — colorful gemstones and rocks — that belonged to Marie Antoinette in 1770. “Its iconic case is modernized, but pays tribute to its predecessor,” Prazan says of the new version. The updated 2024 design features colored pearls embellishing the outside of the case in a petal pattern, complete with gold detail and lettering. “The petal pattern on the [updated] case is also found on the iconic Bee Bottle of Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie, which was created in 1853,” says Prazan. 

Photo: Courtesy of Guerlain

While the Météorites case has historically included a powder puff for application, Guerlain revisited this approach with the Météorites Powder Brush, a newly designed kabuki brush specifically built for the pearls. With soft bristles and a wide shape, it catches just the right amount of powder, while the iconic aroma clings to it.

Ahead, a first look at the re-vamped 2024 Météorites Powder lineup.

Guerlain Météorites Setting & Finishing Powder Pearls in 01 Pearly White, $72

Guerlain Météorites Setting & Finishing Powder Pearls in 02 Cool, $72

Guerlain Météorites Setting & Finishing Powder Pearls in 03 Warm, $72

Guerlain Météorites Setting & Finishing Powder Pearls in 04 Amber, $72

Guerlain Météorites Powder Brush, $59

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