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Fashion, food, wine… the French know how to do it all with powerful simplicity. There is no better living example of this than the lovely Mathilde Thomas, founder of Caudalie, a skincare line known for natural anti-aging remedies.
Thomas’ new book, The French Beauty Solution (Time-Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out) is a treasure trove of beauty knowledge, hundreds of interesting tips and stories that I could spend hours telling you about. But you’re busy American women, and I know you don’t have all day.
Mathilde Thomas knows this, too. When she first moved to the US to expand her brand, she was struck by how differently American and French women approach the idea and practice of beauty. French women approach life—and skincare—from a pleasure-centered perspective. American women say things like, “No gain without pain.” We could all relax a little and take a few hints from The French Beauty Solution.
3 things we should learn from the French for beautiful skin
1. Unlike American women’s “quick fix” approach to beauty, French women tend to see their skincare routines as an integral part of their day. This lifetime commitment to routine is the opposite of our search for that instantly effective product or procedure.
I tested a Caudalie product that illustrates this “integral” philosophy. The Eau de Beaute Beauty Elixir (1oz travel-sized bottle: $18) is a toner/serum mist of refreshing essential oils and plant active ingredients. Just a little spritz over foundation and under powder sets makeup for the day; a touchup spray or two gives skin an energized tingle (a byproduct of what Caudalie calls “microcirculation”). Oily-skinned girls, don’t be scared by the essential oils—the ingredients are disinfecting, and help calm acne-prone skin. The Beauty Elixer is a product I could (and will) use many times during the day.
2. Simple is better when it comes to a skincare routine; American women think skin care should be complicated—the more steps, the better. The French know simplicity is key. The next product I tested, Make-up Remover Micellar Cleansing Water (3.38oz $14) is simplicity in a bottle. Just a drop of this soap-free micellar water on a cotton pad is all it takes to zip off dirt, oil, and makeup. Even waterproof mascara comes off easily, and no rinsing is required. It has a minty fragrance thanks to orange and lemon blossom, watermelon, and mint leaves. No burning or irritation, just a simple effectiveness I really appreciate.
3. An easy 3-day grape cleanse can transform the quality of your skin. Mathilde Thomas’ parents own famed Bordeaux winery Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, and the skincare/grape connection she writes about is especially interesting to me. Resveratrol, found abundantly in red wine, has anti-aging properties, and so do grapes—to the extent that eating nothing but grapes for three days reportedly has healing properties inside and out.
European aristocrats have used this detox for hundreds of years, and Thomas does a 3-day “cure” every fall. Her description of her skin’s post-cleanse “soft texture and glow” is something to think about!
Here’s how strongly the French believe in the beauty-centric way of life Thomas writes about: her book won’t be published in France at all, because everyone already knows these things! And now, thanks to The French Beauty Solution, so can we.
we heartsters – what Caudalie product makes you say J’adore ça?
Melissa loves road trips, bargain shopping, drive-in movies, lip gloss and rock ‘n’ roll. She lives in Baltimore with her precious pups Zeus and Bellarina.
skin tone: NC25
skin type: dry to normal
favorite beauty product: skincare