Last post in the Christmas 2017 – Gift Guides series! After the interior and travel gift guides, today is the beauty gift guide. This will help you find a gift for anyone who likes a nice pampering session!
I selected the products based on my experience using some, reviews – and some of these are actually on my letter to Santa!
So this is a gift I want for myself actually! I heard great things about jade rollers and the benefits of facial massages. This will make anyone feel like in a spa when applying their regular face cream.
The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, so nothing like a warm bath to relax and warm up at the end of the day! Those Lush bath bombs will transform your tub into a spa like experience!
Now this is a real treat! Aesop hand wash cost north of £20 which is A LOT for a hand wash, BUT it smells absolutely divine, it is very gentle on the skin and makes the chore of washing your hands feels like a beauty treatment.
L’Occitane is very famous in France for its products ‘Made in Provence’. It is all about the Almond shower oil in this gift pack! Super gentle on the skin, very hydrating, and it will make you feel like you are in the South of France.
This would make a very very very special gift. I have actually asked my husband if that could be my only Christmas gift this year. I have been looking for a new Fragrance for a while and Byredo Super Cedar is the one! It’s fresh, woody and perfect for the winter months. If you find this fragrance a little too masculine Bal d’Afrique is another great option!
French women are famous for their natural beauty. There seems to be a myth where people assume that we just roll out of bed looking fresh and polished.
What is true is that less is always more when it comes to beauty in France. Extreme contour, thick foundation, glittery eye shadows or sophisticated nail art design are just not really a thing in France. Our ultimate objective when it comes to beauty is to look like the best version of ourselves.
The reality however is that it takes a lot of work to look naturally healthy, mainly with the use of efficient skin care products. We like our fancy French pharmacy cosmetics. This is also why French women can then get away with less makeup. We invest in a good canvas so we can use less paint.
So what makeup will you find in most French girls bag?
Forget about foundation, it’s just too much work! Commonly us french girls will only cover what needs to be hidden. A pimple, redness, dark circles, etc. Whatever doesn’t need to be hidden, we don’t cover it! If your skin is good why bothering spending time applying a cream of the exact same colour on top of it?
I personally even go as far as using my concealer as a foundation if I have an event that requires to have a full face of makeup. In 30 plus years, I have never ever bought a foundation.
My favourite concealer at the moment is Nars Soft Matte Complete concealer. It gives good coverage and doesn’t crease. I have it both in Vanilla and Custard so I can adapt the colour to the different area of my face.
That’s how we get the glow! A good bronzer is the secret for the healthy ‘I just woke up like this’ look. A lot of my French friends (including me) use bronzer only and don’t even bother with blush.
My favourite is the Guerlain Terracotta! I have been using it for years. Unfortunately though it slipped off my hand the other day and crashed to the ground in tiny pieces. So at the moment I am using The Body Shop Honey Bronze powder, which is good as completely matte.
This one is only used by the women who, like me, are on the shinier side. If you are French and have beautiful matte skin, chances are you don’t even have one of these. Unfortunately, my forehead easily goes from dewy to greasy so a powder is a must in my bag!
French women like classic looks when it comes to make up, a small eyeliner wing a bit of red lipstick, boom! Done! That’s why most of us go-to look involve a good eyeliner.
Being lazy with make-up, I need an eyeliner that will last all day as I will very rarely bother to reapply anything. I love MAC Liquidlast liner, once set it is like a tatoo on your eyelid and will not smudge. It is a little difficult to apply though and takes a bit of practice. The other eyeliner absolutely I love is a gem I found in Japan, Koji Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner is a little bit easier to apply and will stay put until the evening.
As I mentioned earlier, the less is more look is the ultimate goal, therefore a few natural toned eyeshadows are all a French woman need. Shades of browns and greys are usually our go-to. And forget about blending colours, the easier the better! That is why I love the Kiko Long Lasting stick eyeshadow, they require minimum work and last all day.
Not too volumising or thickening, a good mascara needs to simply lengthen and separate lashes. Funnily enough, my favourite mascara cannot even be found in France! Maybelline Full ‘N Soft mascara is simple, lengthening, black and doesn’t smudge.
A lip balm
Most days that is all I wear on my lips, I cannot really be bother with applying lipstick. It’s too much work! So once my makeup is on and my teeth are brushed, I swipe a bit of Dior Addict Lip Glow, it very hydrating and gives a subtle rosy glow.
A natural lipstick
When I need to look a little bit more put together for a work meeting or date, my go-to lip product is an almost nude colour. In my case the actual ‘nudy’ nudes just don’t flatter me at all, so my favourite shades are usually the very subtle pink or mauve lipsticks. My all time favourite is Revlon ColourBurst Balm Stain in Honey, it’s a cool shade of mauvy pink and is super simple to apply.
A red lipstick
Last but not least, the main and only statement makeup item most French women have is a red lipstick. Some of my friends wear it every day, some keep it for special occasion, all have one. I usually use the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red as it just doesn’t move. You can eat and drink with it and be confident that your face won’t look like Pennywise the Clown by the end of the meal.
As you can see below, it only takes 6 products to go from bed head to natural French look. All I applied was concelear, bronzer, powder, eyeliner, mascara, and a bit of lip balm.
All in all my makeup routine using this products takes about 10 minutes. This is why French women can just roll out of bed and be ready a cup of coffee later.
For those of you who have been visiting my little corner of the internet for a while, you will know that there is three things I love more than anything! Well… After my cat, and my husband. I guess.
I love travelling, decorating rooms and skincare. I am actually obsessed with skincare. I have so many pots and tubes on my bedside table my husband call me the ‘little chemist’. I am always on the search for the best ingredients and the most effective, yet not too expensive, products.
I have a good excuse though (desperately trying to justify myself here), I am not very good at makeup so I need to have decent skin. And, to be completely honest, I know where this obsessive compulsive behaviour comes from – 1) I was born in France, 2) French pharmacies are skincare heaven, 3) see 1 and 2.
Talking about French pharmacies, if you are travelling to France, venturing in one of the shops with a giant green cross at the front, and you don’t speak French, chances are you may feel a little overwhelmed. So I thought I would put a little French pharmacies guide together of my favourite French skincare products. I use all of the products below and have been for years. No-nonsense marketing fluff here, just true French staples proven to be efficient AND not that expensive!
I use the Cicaplast Pro Recovery balm every. single. day. It is a fantastic hydrating serum! It goes on quite greasy, but give it 5 minutes and your skin will feel as soft as a peach!
I have a little back story with this product. About 2 years ago, I started to have teeny tiny pimples all over my cheeks, little red dots full of water. It wasn’t acne and my skin was quite dry. It could have been a reaction to something or maybe dehydration. I was visiting my parents at the time, and went to their village’s pharmacy looking for some sort of ointment that would protect and heal my skin. I ended up buying Cicaplast Pro Recovery, and, 3 days later, all the pimples were gone! It’s a miracle product and I haven’t stopped using it since!
Redermic R was the first retinol cream I have ever used, and one of the bests I have ever come across. For those of you who are not too familiar with retinol, it is one of the only anti-aging ingredients that has been proven to scientifically work. It is also excellent for acne prone skins, and you will actually see results using Redermic R!
Retinol can be aggressive on the skin but I have never had any issue with La Roche-Posay Redermic R. I recommend you use it in the evening and make sure to use sunscreen during the day as retinol will make your skin more sensitive. Trust me, get that tube and in 10 years time you will look better than the person who didn’t buy it.
First thing first! Biorderma Sensibio is called Bioderma Crealine in France. They changed the name outside of France, maybe because Crealine wasn’t the easiest thing to pronounced (my assumption only). So in doubt, look for the pink bottle!
I have been using the Bioderma micellar water for the last 8 years. It has only become popular outside of France recently, but in France it has been a staple in bathrooms for more than a decade.
It is very gentle on the skin and removes all the dirt and makeup quickly. They also have a version for all skin types, when I was younger and my skin was greasier I was using the Sebium version (the blue and green bottle).
I recommend you buy the 2 bottles pack as it is excellent value for money and a 500ml bottle will last you up to 3 months!
Simple and efficient, Avene moisturising mask is a no fuss hydrating treatment for the skin. It is very gentle and suit my combination skin as well as very dry skins. It is affordable and last a long time if used once a week like I do. My tip, apply it on clean skin at night and sleep with it on!
A little bit of a ‘princess product’ Caudalie Beauty Elixir is simply a refreshing and hydrating face mist. It is a nice to have in your handbag and to take with you on a long-haul flights. It won’t transform your skin or turn you into a glowing unicorn, but it will make you feel a little more human after a long day/flight/workout.
I have been blessed with keratosis pilaris (thanks dad!) which means I have very dry ‘chicken skin’ on my arms and legs. The condition is completely harmless but there is no treatment that can cure it, so to find a body lotion which leaves me with baby-soft skin for more than 3 hours is nothing short of a miracle. This is exactly what Bioderma Atoderm cream does! It leaves me with soft skin for most of the day and even though it isn’t as cheap as a drugstore lotion, the bottle is huge and last a good while.
About a year ago I took the leap, the dangerously smelly leap to the land of natural deodorant. This was mainly due to my doctor mother sending me links to studies confirming that aluminium salts were harmful. For those of you who have taken the leap too, you will know that the quest to find a natural, yet efficient, deodorant is a smelly and, at time, very embarrassing one. I tried quite a few and got regulars “hmmmm I love you, but you smell a little funny” from my husband in the process.
Luckily, I eventually went back to France and to the pharmacy, and found a little pack of 2 Vichy stick deodorants. I took it home with me and since I have never looked back. It leaves a dry feeling on the skin, it leaves you fresh for most of the day and it has none of the nasty ingredients!
A classic, the holly grail of body oil, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse has been around for more than 25 years and has become a cult beauty product. So much so that Nuxe created a fragrance inspired by the Huile Prodigieuse!
It hydrates and leaves the skin glowing. The fragrance is quite strong and may not be to everybody’s taste, but once you get hooked it is hard to ever look back. In the summer, you can use the shimmering version (pictured) which will make you glow under the last rays of sunshine of the day.
Biafine is a must to have in your pharmacy cabinet! This product was originally created for burnt victims to help heal their wounds and the damaged skin. It works wonders on sunburns and has been very much used over the years by my pale British husband.
In case of sunburn, I apply a thick layer on the skin and let it sink overnight. Depending on the severity of the burn the results can go from reduced redness and pain to fully healed skin in just one night. Biafine is a skin saver, quite literally.
Last but not least, sunscreens! French brands do some of the best sunscreens on the market. Most, if not all, are chemical sunscreens, which have been proven to protect better against UVAs. So if you are from the US especially, make sure to grab a few tubes while in France (or in Europe as most are available across the continent). Which one should you pick? I have an entire post dedicated to my favourite sunscreens so check it out before you go shopping.
That’s it guys! With all those products you should be the softest and most glowing human being around for a good while! And you won’t be completely bankrupt either!
I always pack 4 cotton pads and a small bottle of Bioderma Sensibio micellar water. I have been using it for 8 years now (I am French) and it is the best. Wiping my face with it is the first step of my in-flight beauty routine. Note that my bottle on the picture is called ‘Crealine’, this is because I bought it in France, Sensibio is the name used outside of France.
Caudalie Beauty Elixir is little bit of a ‘princess product’ but very soothing and pleasant to use on a busy flight. It helps refresh the face and the smell is just lovely. It won’t transform your skin but it will make you forget the plane food smell for a few seconds.
I HATE sticky hand creams, and this one isn’t! It sinks in almost instantly, has a very subtle smell and does an excellent job hydrating my little hands. I have it in my handbag all year round!
Face cream tester
About 30 minutes to landing? Now is a good time to wipe your face mask off with the trusty Bioderma Sensibio 100ml. I then use the flight as an excuse to try a new face cream and finally use one of the testers that sits at the bottom of my bathroom drawer. No favourite here, just have fun, be bold and try something you never have before!
About to leave the plane and potentially interact with other human beings? Now is a good time to spray a nice fragrance on to hide the ‘plane smell’ until your next opportunity to shower (no one’s judging here!). I always pack a tester of my favourite fragrance which are either Givenchy Very Irresistible Sensual or Le Labo Santal 33.
Here you go! Eight products that should make your flight a little more pleasant and your face a little more glowy!
Not writing beauty posts often, actually I have only done it once before, but I couldn’t not write this one.
Asia is known to have some of the best skincare and cosmetic products. Japan in particular is renowned among beauty-lovers (yours, truly) for it’s very high-quality, yet affordable, cosmetics. For a beauty product addict like me, it was heaven! I visited the drugstores about 4 times. The first 2 times I found it really intimidating and rushed out – with mountains of products, their drugstores are overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for. A few moons later and after watching about 10 YouTube videos and reading a plethora of articles, I had a list and I was ready! Japanese drugstores here I come!
Once in and armed with a list and a credit card, I faced another issue – packaging! Bloggers and vloggers will talk a lot about Asian beauty products but they will often show you the actual product, not the box which contains it, and some time the difference is huge.
So in this post you will find a list of skincare and cosmetic products I recommend buying in Japan, with a picture of the packaging when needed. I also tried to find a link to the products when I could find it.
Another tip, you can buy all cosmetics tax-free as long as you don’t open the bags before leaving the country. Great way to spend more!… I mean save more!
1 – Sunscreens, sunscreens, sunscreens
Japanese women look ridiculously young, I know it is mainly thanks to genetics but they do wear sunscreen religiously. The minimum SPF available is 50+ in most shops!
I myself wear sunscreen as a day cream everyday, so I thought I would try some that are not available in Europe. I went for the Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence which is a bestseller there and came highly recommended by Gothamista, who I adore. I also got a couple of the Biore mists which will be useful to have at my desk for lunch breaks this summer. My future self will thank me in 20 years.
One thing Japanese are good at is eye makeup. Japanese love a very thin eyeliner and very long lashes, a look right up my street!
I have hooded eyelids which means my makeup constantly crease or smudge, and with the promise of smudge-proof everything I had to get a few products. So I went for the Dolly Wink eyeliner which is SO GOOD I bought a second one on my last day in Japan. I also got a Avance lash serum (because who doesn’t like long lashes?) and a Shiseido lash curler (Shiseido is a lot cheaper in Japan)
An obvious one! Like in South Korea, Japan has a lot of sheet-masks on offer. I got the pink LuLuLun which has excellent reviews and is a bestseller. I also got some Kose ones with the ‘top 1 bestseller’ logo.
I also saw the Black GelPack Materic mask and had to have it! It’s black, sticky and promise to leave your pores squeaky clean.
For some reason nail clippers are excellent quality in Japan so I bought a few. I have to say, they feel very sturdy and the blades are really sharp, it doesn’t break the nails instead of cutting them.
If it’s good enough for Lily Aldridge it’s good enough for me! I heard about the notorious ‘minty’ Japanese eye drops. People describe the feeling they give as a third-degree burn followed by the clearest vision.
I can attest that the third degree burn feeling is a massive exaggeration. Yes it feels very cooling, yes you will tear-up for 30 seconds, but it really isn’t that painful. I got two types, a normal one and a contact lenses friendly one (did I tell you that I am completely blind?). After the first 30 seconds, the relief feeling kicks off and it is amazing! Your eyes feel fresh and moist and they look whiter than usual. My new best friend to deal with a sleepless night!
AHA is great to gently exfoliate the skin. As an alternative to an aggressive physical scrub, I bought the BC AHA soap and the Rosette AHA face mask/scrub. They should be perfect to peel off my winter skin!
A big trend in Japan is the ‘lollipop lip stain’ effect. Young women have a little hint of colour on their lips just like after sucking on a lollipop. It’s a cute (‘kawaii’) and natural look, I liked it and I bought it!
Combination skin means mid-day greasy shine, a problem Japanese people are familiar with. To help tame my mid-day ‘glow’ I bought some Shiseido blotting papers (once again, MUCH cheaper there) and a nose primer, you read that right, a primer dedicated to the nose area.
Japanese drugstores are full of very random surprises! You can find detox masks for the bottom of your feet for instance (yep). My feet being fine, I went for a warming lavender eye mask, because why not?
Well… Kind of, but only because this is very relevant to travellers and wanderlusters like me. Don’t worry I am not going to bore you with a description of my favourite eye cream (even though I could absolutely share that with you if you wish!) but I wanted to talk about the ‘must-have’ skincare for any trip – sunscreens!
They are many benefits to using sunscreen:
It helps avoid very bad portraits of you looking like an oily lobster sipping on a pina colada (we’ve all been there)
It increase the time you can spend in the sun (still in moderation though)
It is the best anti-ageing solution out there (old-me will thank me one day
***When packing for our trip to Thailand in 2014***
Now about the products, once again I am not going to bore you with a list of ingredients and a definition of what sunscreen is. I am simply going to list my favourites and explain why.
Note that because my husband and I have been ‘blessed’ with oily skin, the products I listed focus on this skin type. HOWEVER, I know some that fit most skin types so dry/sensitive skin people, you can keep reading.
Another thing to be aware of is that I am French and therefore very partial to my mother-land cosmetics. Fortunately most can now be found around the world (thanks Amazon!)
As mentioned above, Andrew and I ‘shine bright like a diamond’, as Rihanna would say, when in humid and hot countries. It took a few trials and errors and a lot of unflattering pictures for us to nail the best products.
Good protection, not too greasy and slightly tinted so perfect for a healthy ‘I am on vacations’ glow. I actually use it as a day cream all year-long.
I will usually cover myself with SPF 50 on the first week of vacations and with SPF 30 the second week. If I am on a shorter break I will stick to one or the other depending on the sun’s strength and the destination.
A dry oil that will hydrate while protecting your skin and boosting your tan. If your skin is not dry I would recommend going for the sunscreen I listed below, as this one could make you breakout. Also available in SPF30.