The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #6 The Art of Skin Care
French women are not only known for taking great care of their skin, but also for being comfortable in their skin (or bien dans sa peau).
Skin care is the most important aspect of French beauty. Good skin is like a status symbol and thanks to the copious options available in France (be it facials, specialty creams or massages) most anyone can achieve it. Good skin is not only a luxury in Paris but a necessity. Madame Chic had it. So did Madame Bohemienne. But French skincare goes way beyond a pot of expensive face cream. French women drink lots of water (a tall glass in the morning and one right before bed, plus several throughout the day), take brisk walks every day (good for circulation), try not to stress out too much (it’s hard to be passionate and stressed at the same time… the French much prefer to be passionate), and they don’t wear too much pore clogging makeup (see le no makeup look) Also, a healthy love life doesn’t hurt either!
After having my baby my skin went through a few unfortunate transitions- and I can personally attest that having bad skin is one of the worst blows to self confidence a person can have. I can definitely see why a French woman views good skin as her best accessory. I’ve had to rethink my skincare routine and change a few things but I have finally gotten my skin back on track. Much like when I have indulged in too many fattening foods, I adjust my exercise regime, I did the same with my skincare routine. I was dealing primarily with breakouts (so unfortunate)- so I booked a facial as soon as I could. At home, I followed up by doing my normally once weekly mask 2 or 3 times a week (I use Epicuren’s Volcanic Clay Mask- LOVE), made sure I exfoliated and moisturized well and even changed my daytime face cream (Philosophy Hope in a Jar Oil Free SPF 30- I switched to ‘oil-free’ to accommodate my situation). And I booked a few reflexology massages to deal with my stress. It took some time but my skin is finally back on track… and with it, my confidence.
Some very French things to remember when it comes to your skin:
Consult professionals regularly: dermatologists, and estheticians (for facials or any other treatments you might get). It is worth the expense, your skin will look beautiful for much longer. It is also quite handy to have a professional recommendation for the types of products your skin needs. You will save money in the long run by not experimenting with products that aren't right for your skin.
Never underestimate the power of massage. Regular massage works wonders for the skin. It gets the toxins out and helps to keep stress levels down-vital for radiant skin.
Drink lots of water. If you enjoy several different beverages throughout the day, such as coffee, tea, diet coke and cocktails (for example), try trading two or more of those for water. I try to mainly drink water and only give myself one or two non-water drinks a day- an afternoon coffee, for example, might be the only thing I have other than water all day. (If you find yourself hankering for something hot and non-caffinated, a hot water with lemon can be quite nice...)
Invest in the best products you can afford. The French spend about $2.2 billion a year on skin care. Here they do not skimp- they will buy the best creams, serums and cleansers they can afford. And while I tend to agree that you get what you pay for with regards to skincare products, you can also find affordable drugstore alternatives as well.
Don't forget eye cream. It is never too soon to start using it...
And while this tip isn’t particularly French… Acquaint yourself with the Clarisonic. My favorite skincare tool… ever. It is amazing, and yes, worth the investment.
Don’t forget your spf!
And most importantly… smile, emote, and really live (passionately) in your skin. Be comfortable and confident with who you are. Ignore the haters (if you have any- most people do). And just take comfort in being yourself. Nothing could be more attractive.
Won’t you stay tuned for #5?
The above picture is of a group of students in the Jardin du Luxembourg on the first hot Spring day in Paris. Normally accustomed to year round warm California weather, these students stopped everything they were doing and immediately went to sunbathe with the rest of the Parisians amongst the flora and fauna... Can you spot me?
My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.