# beauty # Comme les Français

Skin Care- Comme les Français

As I write this I have a volcanic clay mask (by Epicuren) richly slathered on my face. Applying a mask is a ritual I have been doing once (sometimes twice) a week ever since I lived in Paris.

Before living in Paris- skin care was not something I paid much attention to. Admittedly I was still very young when I was in France (20 ans) but as far as French women are concerned, you are never too young to start caring for your skin.

In Paris there is a salon de beauté on what feels like every corner. Yes, the French are obsessed with beauty but in a different way than Americans. I find that they are happier with the way they look and would rather enhance their beauty than change it with surgery. Characteristics like a prominent nose, a gap between the teeth and/or a petite chest (all things that are desperately sought to be corrected aux États Unis) are actually revered in France. No, the way the French are obsessed with beauty is by taking care of their assets- what they already have- not by trying to alter themselves.

Perhaps the biggest asset of the French woman is her skin. Most French women get regular facials and use only the best skin care products they can afford when taking care of their skin at home. It is something that is simply done and not really talked about. Both Madame Chic and Madame Bohemienne had excellent skin. Both were women over 40; both with children. I could probably bet my life that neither of them had Botox or any other form of cosmetic surgery. No, their beautiful complexions were the result of years of ritualistic skin care.

Living with Madame Chic, I was too shy to ask about her skin care routine. The question seemed intrusive- too personal. I instead, became a detective to my curiosity. Because we shared a bathroom, I got a chance to see what sort of products Madame Chic used for her skin: Madame’s regime involved cleanser, toner, rose water and moisturizing cream (I’m sure there was exfoliant as well but alas I did not feel comfortable snooping for it- I am only reporting on what was on the counter- which I consider to be fair game!). And I did note on several occasions in the six months I lived with her that she would occasionally come back from an afternoon out in the city with glowing, complexion- the sort that one gets right after having a facial.

When I turned 25 I started to get regular facials. At first (due to my minimal budget) I would get one every two months and as time went on I started to get them every month. After a few years of doing this I can definitely see dramatic improvements in my skin, which has always been rather troublesome. My problems with breakouts and uneven complexion have gone down dramatically, and because my skin is clearer and smoother, I wear less makeup as a result (a must for le no makeup look). I will expound more on the wonders of skin care- Comme les Français in future posts but for now I need to take off my Volcanic Clay Mask.

I would love to know… what do you do to take care of your skin?

Pictured above are three products I really love: Volcanic Clay Mask, Fine Herbal Scrub and Hydroplus Moisturizer... all by Epicuren.


Marsi said...

Getting a Clarisonic last fall has made a huge difference in my skin's condition. It really cleans so deeply. I've read that using it at night allows treatments to penetrate the skin, and I believe it. I can't believe how dirty the brush is after I clean my face with it for two minutes every night. So that's my absolute favorite beauty treatment EVER.

I like Olay's Regenerist Serum and ROC's Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream. I also really like Biologique Recherche's Lotion P50, which is an exfoliating toner that smells like the gates of Hell. Works great though.

For masks, I've used Queen Helene's Mint Julep clay mask. Works well enough (and is super-cheap), but elegant it is not. As I've gotten older, it almost seems a tad too drying ... but I haven't found anything better to replace it.

I've tried going with French botanicals, but all they've ever done is clog my skin.

I love beauty posts!

Michael Rivers said...

Good skin care is so important, starting with a lot of sunscreen!

I haven't had a facial for a few years. I should get one again.

LPC said...

Thank you for the French perspective on this. Definitely time for me to have a facial...

CashmereLibrarian said...

I've never had a professional facial; I should try it.

I have dry, dry skin so I've been slathering my face ( and body) with lotions and cremes forever. I am not loyal to anything except perhaps EA's Eight Hour Cream. Right now I use an Aveda moisturizer with SPF over the EA during the day, and Kate Somerville's Quench serum and a Wexler night cream before bed. Also, eye cream: Christian Dior Capture at the moment. Some time I'd like to try Creme de Mer.

Kiehl's used to gave an Imperiale face mask with calendula that I loved, but they discontinued it. Still looking for a replacement. Once or twice a week I use Kate Somerville's Exfolicate, which is fab!

I'm 44 and am lucky to have few lines. My biggest problem is age spots; I have a prescription for hydroquinone which I occasionally use to keep those at bay. I also tried Retin A which sucks!

I do have a pregnancy tip for you. ;-). Buy some soft comfy bras and start wearing them all the time (even to sleep!). That will help prevent stretch marks.

Oshiya said...

cream cleanser. any cream cleanser is good for everyday. cleansing oil is great for deep cleansing but is too drying for a daily use. i use cream cleanser (one u can rinse off) and limit cleansing oil to only once a week. i don't like the idea of tissue-off cleanser. i tried it and it broke me out.

i moisturize my face while it's still damp. i don't use toner.

Nik from Brisbane said...

I've become a huge fan of Microdermabrasion, had my first one last month, was expecting a red raw face but was slightly pink like light sunburn for only 10 minutes, over the next few days my skin improved. Had my second one last weekend and my skin looks and feels fantastic as it is problematic and sensitive. I feel like my skin is absorbing product much better and it looks and feels softer. I've combined this with ASAP skincare which is manufactured on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia, I don't know that you can get it online only at a beauty salon. It is gold.

Merveilleux said...

I have a lot of Avon products because my boyfriend can't say no to Avon ladies that go to his office, so he's always coming home with stuff for me (LOL). They have some really good night creams.
One thing I've kept up over the years though is using Neutrogena toner after I wash my face. I break out far less when I use that. If I stop using it to try a different routine I really notice a difference.
I'd love to get a facial but I embarrass easily and fear I'd walk out with a really red face or end up breaking out because of the facial a couple days later. I heard that can happen?
I do love any product by L'Occitane though.

Paris Pastry said...

This was fun to read! I recognized so much from it; one thing I've learned it that French women spend lots of money on their skin care and lingerie. And, as you said, they try to make the best of what they have out of their looks, rather than changing it (which is something I've discovered Americans like to do!)

Anonymous said...

I have not starting getting regular professional facials yet but would really like to start investing in that. I do give myself a home facial once a week including oatmeal exfoliation and a clay mask. I also use a mild exfoliating cleanser every morning and evening and have noticed major changes in my skin since I started doing this! I also use a night cream and heavy moisturizer before bed and an SPF moisturizer by day.

Fiona said...

Two of my favourite subjects in one! I could listen about skincare and beauty products all day. I had a facial with a French beautician in December and have not been back yet (although I do plan to - and would like to make it a regular thing). It was so blissful yet invigorating. She performed a lot of slapping type massage on my face and along my jawline. My skin just glowed for the next few days.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Marsi- I really want a Clarisonic. Especially because I know I wont be able to get as many regular facials after the baby is born... and I am guessing that I would probably need to get less anyway after using it? I hear it is a totally wise investment. I've also heard great things about the Olay Regenerist line. I actually revered back to using Olay's spf 15 for day because I wanted something without a lot of bells and whistles recently. It works great and is so much cheaper than the $50 day cream I was using before!

Michael- I love a man that can get a facial! :)

LPC- enjoy! And do report on your experience on your lovely blog xo

Cashmere- First of all- I have seen many pictures of you and you look like you're in your 20's! So you must be doing something right :) I've heard great things about EA 8 hour cream. I was hesitant to try it because I thought it might have perfume in it and my skin is quite sensitive. Thank you for your pregnancy tip- I am so going to follow your advice. I encourage any and all tips- I need all of the help I can get! xo

Oshiya- your skin is positively beautiful... I can tell from your makeup blog! I have never tried a cream cleanser... Right now I'm using Purity by Philosophy and it seems to be working great...

Nik- Hello! I have always wanted to try microdermabrasion but have been too scared! I think there are a lot of misconceptions about it that you will be red for a week, etc. Also my skin is really sensitive so I was worried about that. But maybe I'll give it a try in the future... hope you are well xo

Merveilleux- You are so lucky your bf can't say no to the Avon lady :) I have to admit, when I first started getting facials, I was worried about breaking out a few days later, and initially I did. But not badly... and I think that could just be my skin type. But once you get over that initial stage where your skin stops asking 'what on earth just happened to me?' that problem goes away. I did have one time, however, where I had to go out to dinner right after I had a facial (my husband planned the dinner- I would NEVER have scheduled something right after a facial!) and my skin was very red and blotchy. I know you're not supposed to wear makeup for a few hours afterward but I just had to put some on- nothing bad happened and all was fine!

Paris Pastry- so much easier to just love what you have and take care of it than resorting to surgery! It is a much healthier attitude... xo

Euro Chic- Love the idea of a home facial. If I didn't rely on extractions so much I would do this more. Your skin looks beautiful from your pictures so whatever you're doing is working xo

Fiona- that's wonderful. I love when you find a good beautician. My trouble is I end up making friends with mine and then we talk the whole time- which can be fun but not relaxing. When I get a facial I like to totally unwind! But then after you make friends with that person it's hard to say 'do you mind if we don't talk?' xo

BigLittleWolf said...

I hesitate to admit it, but like most Americans, I don't pay enough attention to my skin. (Thank goodness for excellent genes.) I do try to eat decently and drink plenty of water, and I think that helps.

I believe that French women are much more attentive to their beauty rituals, and their femininity, and feel no need to apologize for it. I wonder if the superior eating habits, better all-round nutrition, and more grounded lifestyle (even in a high-pressure city like Paris) play a role.

Fascinating post. We can always learn a few things from our French friends.

Carmie, the Single Nester said...

I wash with an olive oil cleanser and two or three times a week, a L'oreal exfoliator. I use L'oreal Genesis day moisturizer with SPF and Re-nutriv from Estee Lauder at night. I do love facials and get maybe one or two a year. Not enough, I know.

Jeanne said...

Bonjour Jennifer!

I too have sensitive skin that gets dry (but can break out, where is the justice?). May I suggest as a night cream, my personal organic fave, Weleda Skin Food? It's got all natural oils, soothes lines and blemishes, and smells of oranges (natural scent). It might feel nice to use while carrying Bebe. :)

Question for you: do you wear SPF lotion under your Bare Minerals, then? I can't use Olay b/c of glycerin sensitivity...do you suggest any brand of SPF lotion?

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Big Little Wolf- I bet all of those things you listed contribute to their beautiful skin. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the lack of snacking helps too (potato chips are never good for the complexion:) I went on a walk with Madame Sportif this week and was admiring her absolutely flawless skin. Next time I see her I am going to grill her on her routine! xo

Hi Carmie- Ooh an olive oil cleanser sounds really great. I read that Sophia Loren rubbed olive oil on her skin and that was her number one beauty secret!

Jeanne- Bonjour! Thank you for the Weleda recommendation. I have become obsessed with finding products that are safe and natural to use during pregnancy. I do use an spf underneath my bare minerals- just to be safe. I know bare minerals has spf 15 in it but with my face I am not taking any chances. If you can't use Olay... I've really loved Dermalogica's day lotion with spf 15 or Philosophy's Hope in a Jar spf 20...

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Hello Jennifer, I love skincare and have always been fanatial about cleansing and good skin-care products. I love mixing Aromatherapy Blends for my skin and I do skin compressing a lot with lavender and lime oils I love Jurlique, Lancome, Dr Hauschka, Clarins and some Loccitane for skin-care products plus and English range called This Works! One thing I am a bit lax on is facial masks and so must try to remedy it. I haven't been for an aromatherapy facial for about sic months but love them. Good for the soul and skin! I do believe what you put inside is as important as creams and so Imadeen tablets are my must have and I also like to do Eve Fraser's facial exercises. Clarin's Beauty Flash Balm is also a favourite of years. I'm mad on skin care! xx

Anonymous said...

I have to say first up that I love your blog! So classy but sweet and friendly.

I take care of my skin too and have since my early 20s although I also spent time in the sun then. I think having a thorough but gentle cleanser is paramount, as is sunscreen with an spf of 30 or higher, moisturiser and exfoliant. I also love using masks at home and prefer those by Thalgo, Alpha H and Jurlique.