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They say that great skin and bright smile are every woman's best friends. It definitely works for French women who, apart from being insanely chic, have also developped the art of ageing gracefully. You only need to look at Catherine Deneuve or Ines de la Fressange to know what I'm talking about (rest assured, no botox or scalpels are involved!). French women believe that great skin is healthy skin: one that reflects their overall health and lifestyle and that glows from the inside out. During my years in France, I've tried and tested quite a few of their best-kept beauty secrets, and I can promise you, they really work. And because I'm a good friend, I'm going to share them with all of you, together with the most popular French beauty products. So, without further ado, these are the secrets of a beautiful French skin:
1. Prevention is key: every French woman will tell you that when it comes to beauty, skincare products are hundred times more important than makeup. You can always skip the latest eyeshadow trend, but you should never skimp on the best possible moisturizer. It's an investment that you'll never regret.
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize: on the outside and on the inside. Find the best moisturizing day cream for your skin type and use is religiously, every. single. day. Plus, stop carrying that Evian bottle around as a fashion accessory, and actually open it and drink! Water is the real source of life for your skin, and when you drink enough (and I mean clear water, no sodas!), your skin will be healthy and glowing from the inside out. And if you're not a big fan of plain ole water, try to add these, they'll make it that much tastier!
3. Remove your makeup and clean your skin before bed: this may sound like a no brainer, but there is still an awful number of girls and women out there who don't do it. Even if you are dead tired and all you want to do is dive into the sheets, take those extra 3 minutes to remove your makeup and apply your night cream. You will avoid clogged pores and greyish complexion in the morning. Plus, your skin has a good memory, and it will reward you (or make you pay) for your care later.
4. Protect your skin from sun: you don't want to end up with dark spots and wrinkles in your late thirties, so please stop baking yourself in the sun at every possible occasion. Use sunscreen every day and make sure your foundation has an SPF. And if you're craving that healthy, sun-kissed glow, get it from a bottle!
5. Exfoliate and mask it: get rid of those dead skin cells at least once a week, then follow up with a moisturizing mask. French women usually do this while they take a bath, and it's a pure moment of decadent (and affordable) luxury.
6. Hot & cold: never, ever use hot water on your face! It will dilate small vessels and loosen your skin. Instead, wash your face with cold water in the morning: it will wake you up faster than a double latte, plus it stimulates the circulation and tightens the skin.
7. Spritz it: if there's one thing that every French woman has in her bathroom, it's a mineral water spray (Evian, Vichy, La Roche Posay, you name it). And very often, she has another, smaller one in her handbag to use throughout the day. These sprays are packed with regenerating minerals and protective antioxidants that will give your parched skin a boost when needed most.
8. Let your skincare routine prove itself. this is very important. Don't skip from one skincare technique to another and don't switch your day and night creams every three months. Each skin product needs time to become really effective, and switching them too often will only make your skin confused and more prone to angry reactions (itchy skin, anyone?).
And last but not least, take good care of your teeth: your brilliant smile will catch everyone's attention and it will make you the most radiant woman in the room.
See? Isn't it simple? No rocket science, just the plain common sense, and a few trick passed from mother to daughter for generations. French women learn how to take care of their skin very early in their life, and most importantly, they view it as an absolute necessity, not an occasional luxury. Don't you feel inspired to do the same?
Selection of the most popular skincare products used by French women:
1. L'Oréal Paris Youth Code Serum Corrector, $19.99: your best weapon against dark spots and uneven skin
2. Caudalie Premier Cru Ultimate anti-ageing cream, $150.00: mini-lifting in a bottle
3. Clarins Hydra-Quench cream, SPF 15, $49.00: this cream is packed with moisturizing actifs, and it has an SPF, what's not to like?
4. Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning, $33.00: a fool-proof way to get a sun-kissed face.
5. Caudalie Deep Cleansing exfoliator, $35.00: get rid of the dead skin with this deep cleansing peeling.
6. Clarins Hydra Quench face mask, $35.00: this mask is just perfect for a tired, parched skin (I use it all the time!)
7. Caudalie Beauty Elixir, $48.00: apply this miracle product in the morning, for a glowing, healthy skin
8. Bioderma Créaline H2O, $37.00: hands-down the best makeup remover ever (you can find it backstage at every fashion show)
9. Clarins HydraQuench Bi-Serum, $58.00: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize...
10. Evian Limited Edition bottle, $1.65: ...from the inside out!
11. Elizabeth Arden Eight hour cream, $23.00: the best remedy for cracked lips and dry skin in winter
12. Avene Eau thermale, $16.00: the most calming and refreshing mineral water
13. Caudalie Premier Cru eye cream, $95.00: don't forget to take care of the skin under your eyes.