What better time than spring to have a French love affair! In this case, my love affair is with French cosmetics. Many of the effective and beautiful products I love happen to be French. We’re spoilt for choice these days. The cosmetic market is over-saturated. There is something very indulgent about French beauty products. They are for pleasure-seekers and not just focused on utilitarian necessity, or the Birkenstock-wearing earnestness of many natural brands. Using them feels like flirting and giving into something a little frivolous but ultimately good for you.
1. Obviously I am going to start with the ultimate frivolity of a fleeting but beautiful spring perfume. Le Chevrefeuille by Annick Goutal focuses on the green flower-stem accord typical of “honeysuckle”-type scents. It’s a wonderful, uplifting fragrance but does not last very long on the skin.
2. Cheap and cheerful Chevrefeuille from Yves Rocher to the rescue! There’s an affordable cologne spray, shower gel, deodorant and a body lotion to get a bit more of this fresh, green smell into your life.
3. Klorane is a wonderful botanical beauty brand. The blue cornflower eye-make-up remover is a cult product and so is their dry shampoo. I’ve been growing out my over-bleached ends and using the Chamomile hair products to bring some life back in. The product scents are very well done and convey nature and nurture. If you’ve never tried any Klorane products, I urge you to correct this oversight sooner rather than later.
4. Decleor is one of my favourite skin care brands of all time. I’ve stayed loyal to the facial oils and the cleansing water for years – they also do a beautiful range of soothing face creams and luxurious body products. Not the cheapest of lines to love, but when you can afford it, it’s worth treating yourself. I use the neroli facial oil a couple of times a week instead of night cream or serum.
5. Vichy is affordable, easy to find and has a few star products. The Liftactiv Serum 10 is one of them. A watery, hyaluronic-acid-rich texture that sinks in beautifully; a delicate inoffensive floral scent. Unlike many other serums, Liftactiv 10 causes no breakouts or irritation. The serum will boost your skin’s hydration levels and make you look well rested and fresh. It’s not a miracle product (nothing is), but it’s one of the best basic hydrating serums out there and performs as well, if not better, than some competitors at nearly twice the price. I use this underneath a day cream or a night cream when needed.
6. What do you turn to when you’re getting older but still suffer from spots? This. Vichy Normaderm Anti-Age is the Holy Grail of treating ageing combination skin. Why? Because the ingredients in it have been designed to stimulate your skin to look fresher and younger and to dry out spots at the same time. It’s a lightweight, green lotion that you can use day or night when needed. I alternate between this and a different day cream. You will need to use SPF when treating your skin with any product like this, so do remember to add a sun screen. I’ll do A French Love Affair Part Deux soon, in which I’ll tell you about the best everyday sun screen product I’ve found.
7. We started with perfume, so let’s finish with one, too. Melvita’s Orange Zest Eau de Toilette is not exactly a perfume in the truest sense; it’s a fresh orange water that makes you smell as though you’ve just peeled a hundred oranges, lingers for an hour or so and then disappears. It is, however, a wonderful travel companion; a breath of fresh air when you don’t feel like using perfume but want to refresh yourself – and completely natural to boot if you worry about that sort of thing. Spraying some on a scarf will let you enjoy the zesty scent for a little longer. Melvita is generally a brand that’s worth exploring and you can shop for it online or find it at the Wholefoods Supermarket in London.