If you’re keen to learn more about beauty, The French Beauty Solution is definitely for you. I enjoyed the book so much I couldn’t put it down! Written by Mathilde Thomas, co-owner of French beauty brand Caudalie, it looks at how to care for our skin with good beauty habits and good nutrition.
Growing up in Grenoble, France, Mathilde was surrounded by natural beauty as her family used ingredients found in the garden for homemade remedies. Mathilde’s main inspiration for The French Beauty Solution was the difference between the French and American approaches to beauty (she now lives in New York). Her American customers were dissatisfied with their beauty regimes and wanted to know how the French did it!
Mathilde and her husband, Bertrand, founded Caudalie in 1995. Caudalie is a natural skin care brand, so it’s not hard to see why Mathilde advocates the use of natural ingredients. Caudalie’s vision has always been to focus on nature and eating well.
She believes it’s important to spend time finding a suitable a routine rather than rushing into a difficult beauty regime. The French Beauty Solution tackles beauty topics such as skin basics, healthy skin essentials, French hair and make up as well as the three day grape cleanse. Ah, yes, the grape cleanse. I was very intrigued by that too. More on that later…
Mathilde discusses how our skin ages (gulp!). It’s either intrinsic (the natural aging process, genetics, hormone levels or illness) or extrinsic (factors you can control such as sun exposure, lack of sleep and stress). It’s a very interesting, if slightly scary, read.
Her number one secret to stop aging? STOP SUN DAMAGE AND START WEARING SUN CREAM! Sorry, sun worshippers but Mathilde says there’s no such thing as a healthy tan. The sun damages our DNA and sunburn is already a sign of skin damage. UV radiation can kill and it’s so serious that the US department of Health and Human Services includes it as a carcinogen (cancer causing).
If SPF baffles you, don’t worry. Mathilde details what we should look for (sun cream that protects against UVA and UVB rays). UVA rays penetrate the deepest layers of our skin and cause cancer as well as collagen damage, while UVB rays harm the skin’s surface.
With photoaging sun damage skin can have visible blood vessels, deep furrows and rough skin. That bottle of sun cream certainly looks more inviting now doesn’t it?
Mathilde highlights which beauty ingredients can be dangerous to our health, which is perfect for natural skin care lovers. A few to avoid are hydroquinone (a bleaching/lightening agent that’s also carcinogenic), mineral oil (comedogenic so it blocks pores), formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and parabens (they mimic oestrogen).
If that seems daunting, Mathilde recommends safe ingredients to use. She likes avocado oil, grape seed oil, ceramides, mango butter, polyphenols and hyaluronic acid among others.
Mathilde was introduced to polyphenols (an anti-aging compound found in grapes) by a professor who she later worked with at Caudalie. Polyphenols are the most potent natural antioxidants (particularly resveratrol, which targets inflammation) and the best source is red wine. Resveratrol in red grapes can improve the health span of our cells and the longer our cells live, the less we age!
The book also features homemade beauty recipes.There are many for different skin types but I was disappointed by the lack of recipes for sensitive skin. However, Mathilde advises sensitive skins against homemade concoctions.
She praises taking care of our skin at a young age. It’s true that the French are often known to start using eye cream at 14! Mathilde breaks her beauty regime down and fortunately it’s very similar to the Korean 10 step routine. Phew!
Until now, I’d previously been unaware of the grape cleanse. Mathilde recommends it because she always feels so good afterwards. It’s simple to do, all you have to do is eat 4-6 lbs of grapes a day at three hour intervals for (you guessed it) three days in addition to drinking water or herbal teas.
If that doesn’t sound tempting, grapes are full of fruit sugars so they’re great for a burst of energy if you’re worried about being lifeless. Grapes are also a diuretic, meaning they help eliminate water and cleanse organs. The grape cleanse gives the digestive system a rest and expels toxins. Mathilde recommends it once a year.
Overall, The French Beauty Solution emphasises feeling good about ourselves, which I think is the key point of beauty!
The French Beauty Solution, Amazon, £18.58