French Beauty Survival Kit: Best Face Forward
Moving on to one of our favorite topics—the age-old question, “How do I look younger?”. No matter where you live, we are all obsessed with the eternal fountain of youth. Luckily for you, if you are living in France, you can get pretty amazing beauty products at your local pharmacy. Since French women don’t cake it all on like us Americans, there is a huge focus on skincare. I honestly didn’t wrap my mind around it until I moved here. I remember in my past beauty life looking at the global NPD Beauty reports and wondering why the business penetration in Europe and most of the world combined was a fraction of what we spent in the US. It’s because the women here don’t use a lot of makeup. So here’s my quick guide on how you can up your skincare regimen and achieve the fountain of youth beauty.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
If you read my last blog on keeping your luscious locks, you know the water in Paris and other parts of Europe is a problem. The amount of mineral sediment in the water is not good for any part of your body. If you think it was only the root of your hair problems, you were wrong—the water here dries out your skin. Thankfully, I did not experience any of the extremes such as developing eczema, as some of my expatriate counterparts. To keep your skin healthy, invest in a good showerhead, like m from Aerobath. Not only does it filter your water from all those harsh properties, but it gives you a jolt of vitamin C, which is good for your skin.
Pro-Tip: Regardless of if you have a filter or not, moisturize your skin after with Nivea’s lotion for extra dry skin. This tip is mostly for the rest of your body—will get to face specifics below. If you are just visiting from the states, make sure to save room in your luggage for this stuff. Fun fact: The European formula is much thicker and more moisturizing for your skin, not like the watered down version we get back home!
Give up water all together
I actually started this routine while in NYC and my skin has thanked me. I actually don’t use water on my face when at all possible. I know it’s inevitable on those days you do wash your hair, but other times, I use micellar water on my face and neck to cleanse it. Why, you ask? Because it is healthier and doesn’t strip your skin. Micellar water is made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules suspended in soft water—the micelles draw out impurities like dirt and oil without drying the skin. So, as long as you are not using industrial strength foundation or waterproof mascara, you are a good candidate for not using water on your face anymore. My personal fave is Bioderma Créaline H20. I’ve been using it for the past 7 years now and it stands the test of time. One of the beauty artists I work with saw me a few weeks after I started and was raving about my skin and asked what I did—I simply replied, “I don’t wash my face anymore.” Now if I could only bathe in micellar water!
Pro-Tip: Just because you go on vaca, your skin routine doesn’t. They also come in facial wipes so you can use that extra luggage weight for more shopping
Ménage à trois for your face
The secret to beautiful skincare requires a top-notch beauty regimen. Working in the beauty industry, I got to try all the top beauty lines in skincare—La Mer, La Prairie, Chanel, Shiseido, Clé de peau. You name it, I’ve probably tried it, and for free. Saying that, I will have to say that with all that I have tried, nothing beats what you can get at the French pharmacy. Here is the only 3-step regimen you will need. Ever.
After you have cleansed, mist your face with some thermal spring water. It is a nice way to refresh your skin and give it a little more hydration. Our choice is Avène Eau Thermale as it has soothing and anti-irritating benefits, even for the most sensitive skin.
Pro-Tip: Get a mini can for your purse to mist yourself during the day and on flights when your skin gets dehydrated at high altitudes
Plump Up Your Skin
After your mist has settled, now prime your face with hyaluronic acid. Don’t be squeamish because it has “acid” in the name, sometimes a name is just a name. Fun fact: hyaluronic acid is actually produced by your skin and is critical in maintaining skin hydration. It is a natural element of the epidermis and, like elastin, it is how young skin is naturally plump, luscious and wrinkle-free. HA helps to fill the spaces between the various cutaneous fibers, but thanks to all the natural environmental aggressors, the natural production by our skin decreases as we age. By applying it topically, you are hydrating your skin and helping your skin keep moisture in. Whew, that was our dose of science for the day!
Still don’t believe me? Check the ingredients of any major beauty brand’s anti-aging crème or lotion—they all contain hyaluronic acid (some may use the abbreviation HA). Why don’t they tell you that? One because the name is not appealing (why do you think we have skincare marketing teams?) and two because they want you to pay top dollar for their product (Hello capitalism!). Our choice: ialuset. You can buy a 100 gram tube for under 15€ at any French pharmacy. And it lasts a long time. I mean, why buy it as another product when you can buy it pure. The main purpose for ialuset is for fast healing for wounds, so imagine what it can do for your face?
Pro-Tip: I use it both in the morning and right before bedtime. Apply a thin layer to your face and neck and allow to set in for a few minutes before adding moisturizer.
Get Skin soft as a baby
Now that your skin is primed to retain moisture, amp it up with a super hydrating moisturizer. Again, you do not need to spend a fortune. Our French fave is Embryolisse lait crème concentré. Sorry guys, despite the name, this does not contain placenta or the price would be muchhhhhh higher! This cream does combine natural ingredients rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins to hydrate, nourish and protect your skin—it also helps your skin retain water, leaving your skin soft and supple.
Pro-Tip: As much as we love this cream and it has been a life saver, I do believe in keeping your skin alert. You can do this by adding another moisturizer to your arsenal and changing it up every couple of weeks or alternating as you feel like. This will keep your skin on it’s toes so to say, or just perky!
So, this one is a no brainer—they say you are what you eat, and that also goes for what your drink. I drink A LOT of water, so much so, one of my exes actually said, “What are you, a camel?”. Now girls, if there is one thing that you MUST MUST MUST do, it is to hydrate from within. Make sure you are drinking 2 liters (half a gallon) of water each day. If you are drinking alcohol that day, drink at least one extra liter of water on top of that. Your skin will thank me later.
Pro-Tip: I sleep with a 1.5L of water on each side of my bed. Take a sip before going to bed and if you wake up during the night. Your body does a lot of rejuvenation while in sleep mode, so make sure your body is hydrated in order to do better repairs!
Get your Beauty Sleep
Another no brainer, but worth repeating. I know 8 hours of sleep is practically mission impossible with day to day obligations, work and stress, but when you do have the opportunity to get close to 8 hours of sleep, do it. Our body needs at least 6 hours of sleep for maximum regeneration—any less than that you see the consequences physically (did someone say dark circles and bloating?). I know the struggle is real, but make getting your zzzzz’s a priority.
Pro-Tip: Set a sleep alarm. You have an alarm for everything else, so why not this?
Now don’t you feel 20 years younger already? You are now on the road to healthier and younger looking skin without botox or plastic surgery!
Would love to hear your thoughts and what other topics you would like us to cover. Write to us below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.