When it comes to having a daily beauty routine, the French take a very minimalist approach. Compared to the U.S., there also seems to be more of a focus on skincare rather than makeup. Maybe this is part of the secret behind why French women always seem to age so gracefully?
When I first moved here, I decided to take a trip to the pharmacy to see what all the fuss was about. Since then, I'm a total convert. A far cry from a CVS or Walgreens, the drugstores here only sell, well, drugs. There's no food, no Hallmark greeting card section, none of that. Just prescription and over-the-counter drugs, plain and simple. Besides that you can usually find a good selection of suncreen, facial cleanser and other toiletries, depending on the size of the store. And unless it's really busy (which happens more often than you'd think with pharmacies on practically ever corner), the service is usually excellent. Smiling, white coated pharmacists are there to advise you on everything from cough medecine to the right facewash for your skin type. It's like being able to ask your doctor or dermatologist for advice without having to make an appointment! Definitely a plus.
Anyway, back to the French attitude toward beauty. Most women I know here barely wear any makeup. Next to them, even I feel too done-up, so that's really saying something. I scaled back my already pretty simple beauty routine to just a handful of products, which really comes down to just three key staples. I checked and I believe all three brands, including Melvita, are available in the U.S. La Roche-Posay and Nuxe are practically mainstream now, as I'm pretty sure you can find both at Target.
1. The serum. Definitely late to the party on this one. For the longest time, I kept hearing about serums--from magazines, coworkers, bloggers I follow--without actually understanding what it was or why it's important. I'm still not 100% sure on what it does exactly, other than its anti-aging powers, but I do know that my skin feels extra smooth on the mornings after I apply this rose water serum. Plus, it smells like roses!
2. The cream. It was a coworker, with flawless skin, who first told me about this cream from Nuxe. I asked Domi what her secret was and she just shrugged and said she keeps it pretty low maintenance but uses this Nuxe cream at night. So I marched right over to the nearest glowing green sign to stock up. Considering how pricey creams can be this one seems pretty reasonable, especially when you consider how long it lasts. A 50 mL pot will last me about a year, (I only dab a tiny bit around my eyes).
Another cool thing about the pharmacies here? Free samples! I almost always walk away with two or three new products to try.
3. The foundation. Looking for a good, everyday base that would give me a bit of coverage but still go on lightly, I picked this one up on a whim. A pharmacist explained to me that Laroche-Posay is mainly geared toward people with sensitive, acne-prone skin. This is not necessarily my case, but I do have a mixed complexion with a T-zone that can get pretty shiny as the day wears on. So the idea of a mattifying foundation seemed ideal. It's got this whipped texture that goes on velvety smooth. I use the tiniest dab and I love that it combats shine without the dryness of a powder.
And that's pretty much it (+ sunscreen and a swipe of mascara). Simple right? Of course, if I'm going out, I'll throw in a red lip, maybe a little eyeliner. No palettes or contouring, at least for now. Just trying to master that whole French "I woke up like this" look for now.