Wednesday, 5 September 2012

notes à la mode 12

Today I'm mixing things up. Instead of featuring fashion I'm talking about skin care products. Some of you may remember when I went to Lille in France in February to buy Embryolisse creams, a French brand that Gwyneth Paltrow made famous overnight in early 2011 on her Goop website. In fact, French women have been using this brand for decades and if a French woman shares her beauty tips the chances are high that she will have something from Embryolisse on her list. Back to Lille. I didn't get the cream I was looking for but I got other items from the brand and I promised to share my experience later. Then life got in the way; all of a sudden I was packing and moving to Luxembourg and let's just say I got a little busy. Fast forward to last Saturday morning when I decided to go to France to try to get that particular cream again and some other items. Going to France to buy creams sounds so glamorous, doesn't it? It's just that I haven't found Embryolisse in Luxembourg and please note, France isn't far away so this sounds way more glamorous than it is.

Before I talk about my skin care products I would like to explain that top photo. Last week, A brought home from work another stack of magazines that was destined for the recycling bin. I got plenty of August issues that I hadn't read. One of them was Marie Claire UK that I read on Saturday. It contained so many shallow articles that I honestly lost faith in mankind for just a second. Fortunately, there was some good stuff too. Marion Cotillard was on the cover and was interviewed and there were plenty of beautiful clothes. I also enjoyed this piece shown in the photo where model Elisa Sednaoui shares her beauty rules. What I found so wonderful was how down to earth she is (they even state that in the intro). She gives simple advice and of course she has Embryolisse on her list (the same cream I bought just a few hours before reading her tips). I was also delighted to see that Cavalli perfume on her list because it is so good. It's my next perfume to buy and for some time I have been getting me some of it each time I enter a perfume shop.

I know what most of you are thinking now. You want to read Elisa Sednaoui's tips, right? Okay, I have copied the ones I find relevant and I have added links to the products she mentions:

  I don't like wearing tons of mascara so I apply a bit of brown eyeshadow just at the roots of the lashes to make them look thicker. It helps to open up the eyes, but no one would guess you're wearing make-up.
  When I was a teenager, like all young women, I wanted to change myself. I started plucking my eyebrows, until I saw an old picture of myself and realised that the shape was better before. I think that a woman who doesn't hide behind make-up is always more seductive.
  To me, smell is one of the most important senses; you remember a person by their scent. I always go for a fragrance that feels like an extension of myself, so I'm comfortable wearing it day and night. I love Roberto Cavalli's fragrance - it oozes sensuality and strength as well as having a [sic] softness to it, like the woman I hope I am!
  I think gentle soap is the best way to get rid of impurities without chemicals - you just have to moisturise well afterwards. I switch between Doux Me Crème Caroline and Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, as I think it's important your skin doesn't get used to one thing.
  A loofah is great for exfoliating the skin - it's the one thing that really makes a difference to how your legs and arms look when bare. I finish with a body oil like the one by MV Organic Skincare. It's nourishing and gives the skin a healthy sheen.
  A boyfriend once told me I look better without make-up, and the older I get, the more confident I am in my own skin. I sometimes use a bit of kohl in the evening and I have lots of Chanel blushers. I don't use powder as I find it can make your skin look older.
  My hair is very dry, especially as I colour it, and I find going to the salon quite stressful. My hair heroes are the Moroccanoil range, especially the Light Oil Treatment, and Kiehl's Olive Fruit Oil range.

from Marie Claire UK, August 2012, page 194

Before I continue I would like to say that I don't believe that one cream will do some wonder for your skin. A healthy looking skin is a blend of taking good care of your skin without any extremes, eating well and sleeping well, the stress factor in your life and your environment. I also believe that we should embrace those lines and wrinkles when they start appearing. None of us escapes old age. If you embrace the fact that you are getting older it will make it so much easier to face yourself in the mirror. Breathe deeply, smile and get over it!

I was fairly young when I started having a facial care routine. I was probably 14 when I was using Clarins daily and I used that brand for years. Then I started mixing it up, so I have basically used all those fancy brands and of course paid ridiculous amounts for them. I have never been the type who buys endless creams at one go because creams have a shelf life and I don't like applying facial creams that have expired. (As Elisa Sednaoui, I find it good to switch between two and when a facial cream turns 6 months old I open a new one and I use the rest of the old one on my hands and heels). There was a time when I entirely made my own creams from a good base, pure essential oils and flower waters but I stopped it when I didn't find another good base. I didn't want to always use the same one. I still blend my own creams occasionally and I sometimes add essential oils to my creams before applying them. (Maybe I should add here that I studied aromatherapy many years ago so this is something I have been doing for years.)

In the beginning of the year I took a conscious decision to stop buying creams from the expensive brands and to only buy creams and cleansers that are free of parabens. I also stopped using exfoliators after having used way too much of them in the last years, believing they were ideal for the skin. I read what the dermatologist of blogger Garance Doré had to say about exfoliation and that was an eye-opener:

It’s the same with exfoliation. It’s paradoxical, but it actually makes the skin thicker. So you think you’re refining the texture of the skin, you’re actually doing the opposite. And all the tiny little cavities and other lesions will burrow deeper which can end up giving the skin a grainy looking appearance. The skin will become like a memory foam mattress!
from 'Cleaner Than Clean' posted 30 January 2012

Now I will turn to my reviews. You can see the products I'm talking about in the photo above and I have added a link to each one so you can learn more about them if you are interested.


  Rich Moisturising Cream: This moisturising repair care is the cream I bought in Lille instead of the one that was unavailable then. It occurred to me that maybe it would be too rich for me and if that was the case I would simply use it as hand cream. Well, it was early spring and it wasn't warm yet so a good moisturiser wasn't a bad idea. I started using the first three products on this list at the same time and I noticed that my skin started cleansing itself quite heavily. It wasn't like breakouts that indicate you are using a product that is not good for you. I would rather call it good breakouts because my skin felt soft, impurities were obviously reaching the surface and then they were gone. However, I decided to apply less of this rich cream and that was the magic trick for my skin. In a short time, when using less, this moisturiser really felt wonderful.
  Hydra-Mask: Of the three products I bought in Lille this intensive moisturising and regenerating care was the biggest surprise of them all. I knew that I was getting a mask that would moisturise my skin but I didn't realise how well it would also cleanse my skin. I apply it every week, sometimes twice. I apply it to a clean skin and leave it for 10-15 minutes while completely relaxing and it's like a boost for my skin every time. This mask suits my skin perfectly.
  Eau de Beauté Rosaméli. This is a wonderful 4 flower tonic lotion with rose, orange blossom, hamamelis and cornflower. It is mild and fresh and the smell is not heavy. If I'm not heading straight for the shower I start every morning with spraying it on a cotton wool and wiping my face and neck. Sometimes I do this in the middle of the day when I'm not wearing make-up and I just feel like freshening up.
  Lait-Crème Concentré. This is the nourishing moisturiser that I meant to buy in Lille, it's the one that most French women seem to use and it's on Elisa's list above. I have only been using it for a few days now and I'm very happy with it. It's much lighter than the rich cream and it can be used as a make-up remover as well, and it can also be used on the body. During the sunny days this summer I have mainly been using a sun protection from Vichy (also contains no parabens) and I have to say that this particular cream keeps my skin much softer.


  Gentle Cleanser (Démaquillant Soin Doux). Unfortunately the website of Caudalie doesn't have a link to every product so I cannot link straight to this wonderful and fresh cleansing milk that is also an eye make-up remover. If you open their link and tick, for example, the combination skin box to the left you will find it in the third bottom row, to the far right (on the package it says that it's for all skin types but on the website it says normal to dry). I bought it on Saturday and I'm already in love with it. The cleansing milk smells really nice and it contains a wonderful selection of essential oils.

I know this post is getting quite long but I would like to include links where I feature some skin care products that I have come across lately and would like to buy later when I'm in need of them. It would really be lovely to read your comments if you have used any of them or if you are using similar products.


  ELEMENTAL HERBOLOGY: Facial Detox. This is a purifying facial mask that helps reduce excess sebum and decongest the pores. All this year I have only been using my moisturising mask so I'm planning to buy this one soon
  COSMECOLOGY: Mask Hydra. I'm more than satisfied with my Embryolisse moisturising mask but I saw an item from the Cosmecology brand in my September issue of Vogue Paris and visited their website right away. I found this mask and when I finish my other one I'd like to try this one to have a comparison.  I don't remember having seen anything from this brand before and on Saturday I meant to buy their cleansing milk, Instant Clean Skin, as I needed one. I didn't find the brand so I went for the one from Caudalie instead
  Speaking of CAUDALIE, there are a few products from them that I would like to try some day. Beauty Elixir is one of them, a spray to refresh the skin and boost radiance. The formula was inspired by Queen Isabelle of Hungary’s elixir of youth. Actually, I love using pure flower waters, especially rose or rosemary, but there is something about the blend of flower waters in this product that I really like. Among others it includes grape, orange blossom, rose, balm mint and rosemary
  THIS WORKS: Perfect heels rescue balm. Usually I make my own foot cream with essential oils that I'm in the mood for but this balm appeals to me. It's a deep moisturiser for the feet and helps to prevent and repair dry feet and cracked heels. It contains cotton thistle extract and lemon
  I have always been for body lotions that contain green tea. They seem to suit my skin well and have cleansing qualities. I can't say that I have used many of their products but I saw on their US website that the L'OCCITANE: Green Tea Body Lotion contains no parabens. I don't see anything about that on the UK website. I can't say that I'm a big fan of L'Occitane as I have used products from them that I don't like at all and then there are products from them that I really like. But if I can get a sample of that lotion I would like to try it
  The last link is about nail polish. The next time I need a new one I'm turning to MARY JO MATSUMOTO (I linked to my favourite colours but she has more) because hers are free of the bad ingredients

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt


  1. I loved this post... I agree there is no such thing as miracle cream - but maintenance and looking yourself is the key to good healthy looking skin. I am also in the throes of trying organic skincare/makeup and I love reading tips from others too. Embryolisse sounds very promising though. Im keen to try the new haircare products by Aesop as the body range is really fabulous. I'm currently using an Australian brand called Sukin organics for my face and I must say, they feel great- not overly scented very subtle and leaves the skin feeling really velvety smooth- their Intensive Firming Serum I find is amazing on my skin. I would like the Kora Organics skincare range also. I have stopped using foundation years ago and never really did the powder thing... but mascara and a liner and a lip colour are a must for me! But one thing I have found I must tell you ... green juicing! If you haven't tried it do so - married with lots of water throughout the day, healthy meals, and organic skincare - you will welcome the results on your skin... Thanks for the tips! :) PS: just link back on botton of that image and it'll take you to the address of the apartment where the view is in NotreDame. Hx

  2. I loved reading this beauty post Lisa. I too agree that you can't buy good skin in a bottle - it is a direct result of what food you eat, the exercise you do + whether you get enough sleep. Genes play huge factor too. I have just discovered Australian beauty brand KORA which is 100% certified organic + is absolutely incredible + not hugely overpriced either. It annoys me when beauty brand charge ridiculous prices for products when you are really just paying for their marketing! I'm looking forward to discussing this with you in more detail over coffee in Paris. Can't wait xxx

  3. I have been using for years all sort of Romanian natural products because of my constant allergies; lately I am on Clinique and Olaz. I have been reading good stuff about caudalie but did not have yet a chance to try them.

    1. Clinique is one of the brands I stopped using long time ago, they use parabens and Olay/Olaz do so too.

    2. omg, I was not aware...I need to make more research on this topic sap.tx

  4. @Helen & Rachel: Glad you enjoyed the post. I read in an interview with Miranda Kerr that they are planning on taking KORA global. I would really like to try their products. Aesop is available in Europe but I don't remember hearing about Sukin organics. I have now looked them up and bookmarked their website. What's with the Australians and all these wonderful organics products? ;-)

  5. Great post, Lisa! My mother always told me to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize and when I once brought home a St. Ives face scrub she immediately threw it in the trash....did you know it contains crushed seashells? Imagine rubbing that over your face every few days!

    I was recently using Clinique when I decided to research the ingredients on the bottle...and was shocked with all the parabens and other nasties. I've dived into natural skincare, too, and as a result have decided not to use any products with parabens.

    Whole foods is a great resource for natural skincare (and yummy food!).

    I had wanted to try embryolisse products since I first heard about them last year, but I searched for them on Amazon and all the ingredient information listed four to five parabens in each product.

    But after reading your post, I went on their website where the ingredients are not listed, but it does say they are paraben-free. I'm wondering if they have reformulated their products....

    In any case, now with your endorsement, I'll order them directly from the website and can look forward to being one step closer to being a French woman ;)

    If you don't mind, I'm going to link your post on my blog, I'm planning on writing the second installment for my "Going Natural" series today :)

    p.s. going to France for skincare is pretty amazing, regardless of where you live. Your adventures make me so happy!

    1. Hi Anait,
      weird that list of ingredients on Amazon as all my Embryolisse items are marked paraben free. Maybe they reformulated something or the text on Amazon is simply incorrect. I have no idea. Feel free to link to the post. I must have missed your first 'Going Natural'. I'm off to check it out.

  6. Yes there is a real awareness about 'green' products in Australia which is great for us the consumers! Mi-essence is another one that I have read about and was going to try - particularly for sensitive skin types. and another one I've heard of is 'Tata Harper' I think its an american brand.? ... PS: wait for me I want to catch up in Paris for a coffee too please? :)

  7. I am so happy you decided to share with us some beauty products, these days I wanted to share a post, but it was more like a request for you all reading my blog: what cosmetics and facial products you use? I have the feeling that I am not paying sufficient attention to my skin lately, between work and other things on my list, body and facial care comes to the bottom of the list. So, for over a month now, I am fighting with myself to find the perfect facial products for me and to discipline myself. I had some problems with my face, but I found Roche Posay Effaclar, but it kind of dries my face (well, this is the point of Effaclar, to clean your face from impurities by drying them) so I wonder what product to use after this lotion not to get my face fat again...well, I think I have to book an appointment to the dermatologist, really! The products I usually use are Avene (facial cream), Ivatherm (micellar lotion, it is strange because I did not find this product in Wien, do you know about Ivatherm, Lisa?) and Vichy. I heard about Nuxe cream, but we do not have it in Romania, so I have to order it online and I do not know if it is the thing for me, but I have to try it, right? And another thing, about the Moroccanoil, I read on Garance's blog that another French woman use it ( Have a lovely day!

  8. I'm so glad you shared these Lisa. I've decided that for my new living glamorously challenge to use less makeup and focus more on skincare and grooming. I totally agree about less makeup and not hiding behind it - I'm going to be trying to do that a lot more now :) Enjoy the rest of your week xoxox

  9. Lisa, I loved this post! Actually I was looking for another one you wrote after your trip to Lille and I stumbled upon this one...Thank you for this useful review! Tomorrow I'm going to Paris to meet up with Rachel and I will visit the pharmacy to buy the hydra cream as well as the cleanser and possibly the eye cream...Embryolisse is an excellent brand and I'm glad you liked it!


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