Skin Care

By Candice Sabatini

Ever wonder why French women are considered so beautiful, and have such je ne sais quois, yet they seem to wear so little make-up? The secret, ma cherie, is that as little girls while we Americans were painting our lips with Mommy’s lipstick, les jeunes filles were smearing Mama’s crème on their visage. Right from the start, they learned that a jar of crème will lead to beautiful skin, and beautiful skin will lead to – well – beauty.

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A little Parisian geography lesson pour vous, mes amies as our skincare tour unfolds without a wrinkle. Paris is divided up into 20 arrondisements (districts) with the 1st right in the center and the rest spiraling out like un escargot; each one possessing its own personality. Think Upper East Side vs. Avenue A – quelle difference, non?

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The 1st arrondissement is most famous to travelers because it’s the home of the Louvre. But for me, it’s most dear because it’s the home of one of Paris’ Grande Dames, Coco Chanel.
After your visit to the Louvre, you’ll be tired from waiting on line behind the fanny pack wearing tourists to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Get your own secret smirk by walking a couple of blocks to rue Cambon (you didn’t think the name of that handbag came from no where, did you?) where the original Chanel store still stands. Mlle Chanel’s salon was above that store and I can still feel her presence as I wander down the little street knowing that I’m walking in her very steps. Enter the elegant store and feel its magic, then make your way to the skin care counter and discover the newest product to keep our skin as timeless as the fashions, Precision CHANEL Beaute Initiale Energizing Multi-Protection Cream. Mlle Chanel once said: “The face is a mirror that reflects the movements of your inner life: take great care of it”. The powerful antioxidant Blue Ginger PFA, along with SPF 15, in this luxurious cream will do that – Bien Sur!

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In our oh-so-chic shoes, we wander until we arrive at the rue du Faubourg St Honore. It’s the rue de reves (street of dreams) for shopping and is home to stores like Hermes, Celine, Goyard and Dior as well as elegant restaurants for the ladies who lunch…..but, ma petite perle, c’est Paris and lunching can also mean canoodling with a special monsieur at an intimate table a-deux. Though soft lighting always makes our skin glow, these ladies know the secret of Darphin to keep their skin soft to a lovers touch. Since the 1950’s Darphin has used aromatherapy in skincare and this fall they’re re-introducing three of their famous aromatic body products. Parisian devotees barraged the Darphin offices when the company dared to discontinue them and like the guilty husband who brings flowers, Darphin is bringing back three of our favorites, Aromatic Bath & Body Oil with four essential oils that quickly absorbed into my skin and made it feel so soft, Aromatic Hydroactive Body Lotion fragranced with orange, lemongrass and others along with shea butter for moisturizing which feels like velvet and the Aromatic Seaweed Bath & Shower Gel that compliments the body lotion with the same essential oils along with the addition of algae extract for cleansing. So we’ve kissed and made up and they’ve promised never to stray again.

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Arc de Triomphe courtesy and copyright parisdailyphoto.com

Our tour continues to the 16th arrrondisement which is crème de la crème of Parisian neighborhoods and is home to the Arc de Triomphe and Place de Trocadero as well as actress/singer Jane Birkin, the inspiration behind the Hermes Birkin Bag. Generations of families live around the corner from one another and les elegantes women share their beauty secrets at afternoon tea. If we could eaves drop over un tete a tete between les amies, we would probably hear them raving about Clarins Generation 6 Double Serum. Because oil and water don’t mix, Clarins has divided the serums into separate bottle halves which blend together a la minute you’re ready to smooth on to your face and neck. Targeted for women over 40, this innovative formula keeps madame looking as lovely as mademoiselle by supporting the skin’s five vital functions: hydration, nutrition, oxygenating, protection and regeneration with a list of precious ingredients that reads longer than a recipe for ratatouille.

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If I lived in Paris, I’d live in the Marais. This quaint area is where the uber-hip live life with a joie de vivre. Wander along rue de Rosiers, where Paris’ best falafel shops and trendy boutiques happily cohabitate. Our femme de la Marais likes her skin care to be contemporary and simple yet demands high quality products for her face and body. It’s no surprise that Nuxe is so popular with spirited women who create, rather than follow, fashion trends. Nuxe has been developing plant based products for fifty years yet stay on the cutting edge of botanical research. Their new Crème Etincelante moisturizers refine skin imperfections, because ma petite cocotte, flaws are only charming when they’re on the cobblestones beneath your feet.

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I might live in the Marais, but my spirit is in St.Germain des Pres also known as La Rive Gauche (the Left Bank). Café de Flores and Les Deux Magots, its two most famous sidewalk cafés, beckon both Parisians and travelers to sit for hours over a glass of wine just as their most famous former patrons, de Beauvoir, Sartre and Hemingway, did years ago. And what’s Paris without the wonderful wines of France? The discovery of the powerful anti-oxidant properties of grape seed polyphenols led to the creation of Caudalie Skincare only 14 years ago at the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. Don’t worry, there’s no wine in the products, just the powerful anti-aging ingredients from parts of the vine. Years ago, I heard through my grapevine of Parisian friends about the Vinoperfect products and began hording the Radiance Serum on my trips to Paris until Caudalie finally was sold in the US. I’m still a fan of the serum and the recent addition of the Vinoperfect Day Cream and Vinoperfect Night Cream gives a luminous finish to my skin that’s smoother than a fine Bordeaux.

Chanel: Sold in fine department stores, www.chanel.com
Darphin: Sold in fine department stores, www.darphin.com
Clarins: Sold in fine department stores, www.clarins.com
Nuxe: Sold in Henri Bendel, Clydes, New London Pharmacy, www.nuxe-us.com
Caudalie: Sold in Sephora, www.caudalie.com

Originally published October 2007
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