Book Review: The French Beauty Solution

The French Beauty Solution:  Time Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out by Mathilde Thomas (of Caudalie skin care).

I enjoyed skimming this book, and it inspired a spa night and a cotton ball full of perfume in my purse.

Good stuff

  • The philosophy of beauty as something we inhabit throughout our lifetimes, not something reserved for youth alone
  • Makeup tips (minimalism)
  • Discussion of fragrance
  • Encouragement to take care of yourself as a non-negotiable
  • Classic wardrobe, well-kept and personal

Yawn Worthy

  • You noticed this woman has her own skin care line?  So… what do you think half the book consists of?  Ah yes.  So, while I like her emphasis on keeping the raw materials in top condition, the amount of pages (and detail!) that skin care consisted of made this book, as a whole, out of balance.   I have friends who like this level of detail, but I was hoping for more style tips and less instruction on at-home facial masks.
  • A grape cleanse?  Yeah.  No.

I hope to convey that beauty is something we inhabit through our lives, and that a classic wardrobe is the most chic, but something I struggle with is the finer points of self-care.   I am about as low-maintenance as a girl can be.

It was how I was raised.  California beauty isn’t too far from French beauty, although Californians are unapologetically athletic (and we don’t care about clothes as much).  My dad was of the opinion that a clean face, long, unfussy hair, and a bikini (possibly with sarong) were all a woman needed for true beauty.   How to be a Cali Girl?  1) Look good naked. 2) Wear clothing that implies you spend all your time at the beach, and it just sort of landed on you.  Impeccably draped if you want to show off… but basically, you want to look like you were at the beach today.

Looking good naked means that you need to be in top physical shape (unlike the French, we have no compunctions about a nip and tuck… or more… you do what you have to do), it means that your hair is well-cut and perfectly colored, and it means you have at least a glow.  You don’t need a to be the next Hawaiian Tropic girl, but …. well, again, you should look like you came from the beach.

Southern California doesn’t do much in the way of professional sports, but outdoor living?  Yes, please.  Surf, paddleboard, hike, bike, golf, run, crossfit, garden, …. why are you inside?  You pay a premium to live here, where you can be outside.  Go outside.  We like an athletic figure, so long as it’s trim.

But we don’t – or I didn’t – learn to take care of our skins as meticulously as do the French.  At 43, I need a bit more than a quick shower and a bit of after-sun lotion… and it is fun to play with potions and whatnot.

For reminding me that it should be fun, and not a chore, I’ll raise a glass to Madame Thomas!


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