258: 22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment in either time or money
Thursday August 15, 2019

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“Parisian women . . . want above all to become the best possible version of themselves, outside and in, at any age.”

—Anne Berest, Audry Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are

Each time I have finished reading a beauty book that offers advice I welcome into my regular routine, I think there will be no need to read another book. But the truth is, as we know, as we grow older, so too does are skin; consequently, our need to understand how to best take care of the skin at the age we are become necessary.

Since the publication of Ageless Beauty: The French Way by Clémence von Mueffling, TSLL readers continued to recommend it, and it wasn’t until this summer that I purchased it and read it in one afternoon and evening. I highly recommend it if you are looking for specific beauty product recommendations for your skin at every stage of aging – jeunesse (20-35) to maturité (55-older).

Sharing not only specific beauty routine ideas but also offering detailed explanations so that readers can understand why they are doing what they are doing to justify the investment, the book will be a resource I return to in the future as well when I begin to step from plénitude, as she describes 35-55.

But beauty when it comes to products for skincare and makeup are not all that is covered. She writes about food, exercise and carriage, as well as hair and perfume.

Today, what I’d like to share with you are 22 beauty secrets that caught my attention and that I either have found to be high advantageous or are new ideas I am now incorporating into my routine. Let’s get started.

~Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as much more detail is shared than what is shared below.

1.Regularly and properly hydrate your skin

A skin’s quality determines the aesthetic beauty of one’s exterior appearance. “Well-hydrated skin that is dewy and glowing optimally reflects light in a flattering way that makes it look almost like silk.”

2. Attention to one’s skin must be a regular routine to see the difference you are seeking

“One of the most important components of any French woman’s beauty routine is just that — it’s routine.”

—Clémence von Mueffling

3. Attend to proper posture

4. Adopt a cleansing routine that properly cleans and cares for your skin

Mueffling advocates for washing your face twice (the first time to rid your face of impurities, pollution and makeup – preferrably with a creamy product; the second, to clean the topmost layer which “optimizes the skin’s natural protection and regeneration which primarily takes place while you’re sleeping”). And while I have only been washing my face once each time I wash my face – in the morning and evening, I have now begun to wash my face twice in the evening as she has suggested.

However, as she reminds, the goal is not squeaky, clean skin as that would be counter to what the desired goal is. Rather, it is about cleansing and caring for our skin so that the serums, oils and moisturizes we then apply will be able to properly penetrate enabling the investment we have made in these products to work as they are intended.

Depending upon your skin type, she delineates the different types of cleansers to consider in chapter 2: milk cleanser, foaming cleanser, cleansing gel, cleansing oil, micellar water and toner.

~NOTE 8/16/2019: In the audio version, I incorrectly pronounced “micellar”. The “c” should be pronounced softly, like an “s” in “cell”, not a hard c as in “crunch”. Thank you for the gentle constructive feedback from listeners.

~read about micellar water and why I added this beauty essential to my cleansing routine a couple of years ago and continue to love it.

5. Apply a toner after cleansing with a cotton ball.

What is the purpose of a toner? As she shares, toners have received a bad rap for being “unnecessarily or overly harsh”. Case in point, for the past 10 years, I haven’t used one, but did during my 20s. She explains that toners when made properly as the more modern, natural toners are that are available, “use plant essences to deliver targeted ingredients deep into the skin”. The reason for using a toner after cleansing and before you apply your serums and moisturizers is to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively.

~I recently began using Clarins Camomile toner per her recommendation and find it be soothing, as well as affordable.

6. Make sure your skin is pat dry after cleansing and toning and before applying any serums or moisturizers

7. Start early and be consistent

“French women know that the earlier you start a comprehensive skincare regimen, the more youthful your skin will remain.”

8. Find a quality hydrating moisturizer as it is essential to your skincare routine

I finally found a moisturizer that works well, especially in the arid climate that I live in – La Mer. However, she recommends many moisturizers at varying price points, some below and some above what La Mer is priced.

9. Apply any oils or serums on BEFORE applying your moisturizers

I have read conflicting commentary on which should come first, but I am trusting Clémence on this one. Whether you apply a serum or an oil after your toner, apply it after your toner and before your moisturizers (face and eyes). Why? For the same reason the toner and the second cleansing is used to ensure that the moisturizers can properly penetrate and do their intended job.

10. Consider welcoming a humidifier into your home

Living in an arid climate, for some reason it took me four years to follow this sage recommendation. However, if you live in a tropical or humid climate, there is no need as the moisture that the humidifier provides is already done naturally in the environment in which you live.

Why a humidifier? Remember, the goal is to regularly and adequately hydrate your skin, and especially during your sleep, by keeping your skin hydrated you enable the products to not have to be asked to do more than they are capable of, but your body retains more moisture offering that healthy glow you are looking for.

~1st recommendation (what I use in my home) Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier (the previous link a model no longer found, this new model is its equivalent and comes highly recommended – Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier)

~2nd recommendation Pure Enrichment Mistair humidifier

11. Apply a spritz of thermal spring water

After finishing your evening beauty cleansing and moisturizing routine, spritz a bit of thermal spring water on your face. As well, after cleansing in the morning, apply for a a bit more hydrating and extra dewy glow. Blot off gently after letting it sit on your skin for about one minute.

~I am not using after her recommendation Avène’s Thermal Spring Water, and based on the size of the bottle, I will have it for some time.

12. Find and use a hydrating and healing lip balm

It has taken me a long time to find a lip balm that does just these two things, and it was found after reading this book. Bioderma’s lip balm stick will cost you $4.90 at the most and is soothing and exactly what I was looking for. Apply throughout the day and especially just before going to bed.

13. High SPFs are a good idea, let me explain AND consider reducing your time in the sun even when you are wearing sunscreen

Perhaps you have heard it as well when you share with others that you are wearing SPF 50 or higher, “beyond [insert number], the SPF doesn’t matter”. First all, that is incorrect, and second of all, it’s absolutely incorrect! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. Mueffling explains that SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin and can be used to approximately how many minutes you can remain in the sun without burning. So yes, wearing SPF 60 as I do, especially on your face, it will save you money and time.

But let’s back-up what is the difference between UVA (which sunscreens do not protect against) and UVB (which sunscreens do protect against). Understanding the difference has motivated me to stay out of the sun as much as possible during the highest and most direct sun exposure times of the day. UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) are the most harmful because they can cause “the most injury to our cells’ they are able to reach inside cells and damage the genetic code, impacting the cells’ ability to produce good-quality collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the other proteins needed for proper functioning”. UVB rays (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation and the superficial damage that occurs immediately after sun exposure) can be protected against with sunscreen (when applied regularly).

So, consider limiting your sun exposure and consider increasing the SPF.

14. Help your skin out while you are traveling, especially on the plane, and refrain from drinking alcohol while in flight

15. Avoid spritzing your face while traveling (plane) as it actually will dry your skin out even more

16. Moisturize your hands regularly

Hand creams to try:

17. Add a facial massage to your weekly beauty routine

Something that you can do at home, she provides three basic techniques for massaging your face with a moisturizer you already use. As our facial muscles need to not be contracted all of the time, so when we give them a massage we are asking them to relax. A facial massage will help your facial muscles retain elasticity and remain firm.

18. Visit a facialist regularly

Depending upon your age, von Mueffling recommends jeunesse receive a professional facial every season (every three months), plénitude every two months and maturité every month.

By visiting a reputable esthetician you can keep your skin in its best shape, combat problems that may arise quickly and accurately without doing more damage and improve the quality of your everyday skincare routine.

19. Eat skin-friendly foods

Sharing a long list of best foods to eat, at the core of such a food regimen is eating food that is sufficient in healthy fats, low in caffeine and very spicy foods, regularly include citrus and offering diversity and brilliant colors.

~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

20. Your Décolleté Needs Extra Care and Attention

From cleansing to moisturizing, remember to not only tend to your face and neck but the area between and just above your breasts.

21. Exercise Regularly and Well

~Why Not . . . Get and Stay in Shape?

22. Prioritize Quality Sleep

~Why Not . . . Get A Good Night’s Sleep?

~Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from three generations of French beauty editors by Clémence von Mueffling


Petit Plaisir:

~Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019)

TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .

SUNDAY August 11th

MONDAY August 12th

TUESDAY August 13th

WEDNESDAY August 14th

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23 thoughts on “258: 22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment in either time or money

  1. I use EltaMD sunscreen for my face; it was recommended by my dermatologist and it is a great product. It works beautifully under makeup, a quality I haven’t found in any other sunscreen.

    1. Thank you for sharing Deborah. This is good to know. It took me a long time as well to find a sunscreen that worked well under my makeup. I final found La Roche Posay for the face and it is fantastically light and luxurious. Between all of these recommendations, readers are sure to find something that works for them. 🙂

  2. Hi Shannon! One of my biggest takeaways is #9! But I loved them all. There is SO much conflicting info on the steps to apply an oil. I’m going to try this reversal. It sounds like it’s working for you??? I loved this episode and I love French week.

  3. Love this book. I swear by washing my face twice. It really makes a difference and gives my face a polished look. Also, Micellar water.

  4. Living in the very dry Mountain West, I cannot agree more with your recommendation of L’occitane’s shea butter hand cream. It’s a game (and hand) changer.

  5. Hi Shannon! Enjoyed this podcast episode. But #12 was a bit misleading. Perhaps you’re speaking of chemical sunscreens, but mineral sunscreens do block both UVA and UVB rays. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide block UVA rays as well as UVB rays. As a pharmacist I just want to make sure your listeners are getting the whole picture. (I don’t use chemical sunscreens bc of harmful side effects – ewg.org has awesome resources on safe sunscreens.) I personally love Beautycounter’s sunscreen!

    1. This is incorrect, as well. Some chemical sunscreens do provide UVA coverage and not all mineral sunscreens do. For example, titanium dioxide, a mineral sunscreen, does not provide full UVA spectrum coverage while avobenzone, a chemical sunscreen, does. It is more dependent on the individual ingredients in the sunscreen but the FDA provides the labeling “broad spectrum” to indicate if a sunscreen provides UVA and UVB protection. However, if you can get your hands on it sunscreens produced for the EU and Australia actually provide the best UVA coverage on the market because they allow the use of ingredients (Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M, Mexoryl SX, and Mexoryl XL) which have not yet been approved by the FDA for use in the American market. Research has shown these ingredients have better UVA protection and chemical stability than those provided in the US market.

      Also, for reference, micellar water is pronounced with the “c” as an “s” as in cell.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and it had a lot of great takeaways. I intend to read this book as well. I’m laughing about the word micellar because its pronunciation confuses so many people. Another podcast I listen to spent about fifteen minutes discussing how to correctly pronounce micellar. I’m loving French Week!

  7. Great podcast Shannon.Lots of great tips but good skin is also genetically predisposed. Good skin runs in my family. We are indeed lucky. My grandmother and mother used just rain water to wash and coconut oil to moisturise and in her eighties my mother hardly had a facial line. I am doing ok as well n my sixties with minimum products. I use a homemade facial oil and rose water and a daily facial massage. I have a weekly masque of turmeric coconut sugar and essential oils et voila. In winter I use Weleda skin food. It’s amazing and great value?

  8. Thank you for this posting! There are so many conflicting recommendations about skin care that it becomes very confusing and overwhelming. Thank you for distilling the great information from this book, I have noted some of the recommendations and will tweak my routine accordingly.

  9. Good evening Shannon-I was wondering if you knew where “The Mystery of Henri Pick” could be viewed in the US as I did not see it on Netflix or Amazon? I’m a big fan of “Call My Agent” and recognize both Camille Cotton and Fabrice Luchini from the series. Thanks so much for all of your inspiration!

    1. I know it is a new international film, so it may not yet be available here in the states. We may have to wait a few months, but I am fairly confident it will be available on at least Amazon video as that is where the new French films I want to view usually arrive first. I saw it by chance, the Mystery of Henri Pick, on my AirFrance flight to Paris this summer.

  10. I’m catching up on your podcasts Shannon and I now have a new book on my birthday list. I use the Avène thermal water after cleansing, just before moisturising as I find it adds an extra layer of hydration to my skin. I also use it all over in the summer to cool my skin down. It’s particularly good for urticaria sufferers too.

    1. Thank you for sharing how you use Avène’s thermal water. I absolutely love it. It is quite refreshing. I spritz it on after I finish my evening facial moisturizing care and even after I put on my makeup in the morning. The bottle has lasted me for seven months with no signs of running out anytime soon. Very long-lasting.Thank you again for tuning into the podcast!

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