Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
1. Guerlain Terracotta Moisturising Bronzing Powder, £34.50 (available in 8 shades)
This cult product, launched 25 years ago, is the secret weapon in every Frenchwoman’s bathroom cabinet and one that’s often passed on from mother to daughter. It gives a healthy sunkissed glow that’s surprisingly natural, if you get the shade right, and not remotely Essex. If you apply it correctly, in an inverted capital E-shape from forehead to chin, it gives contour and radiance to the face. Make sure you don’t overdo it. A tip – from beauty writer Emma Hill – is to brush a little off on the back of your hand before you apply it. The people at Guerlain say the powder has ‘top notes of bergamot’ and ‘feminine notes of gardenia.’ I found the scent subtle and appealing.
2. Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying cream, £19
Soignée Parisians have a little pot of this orange lotion on their bedside tables and apply it to their fingernails last thing at night with expert parsimony (a little goes a long way). It has a sticky texture that’s a bit like Vaseline – you’ll need to be careful when removing the foil seal. The product claims to strengthen and hydrate nails – and this does seem to be true. Even a bit of free testing at the Dior beauty counter in Selfridges made a difference to my ragged cuticles. Dior Crème Abricot also comes in a snazzy white tube (£18) that’s marginally less economical but great for handbags. The scent? Pleasantly old-fashioned and vaguely lipstick-y with not so much as a whiff of apricot.
3. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £26
Created in the 1930s, this Elizabeth Arden cream is a wonder balm in France with a profile that’s rising fast in the UK. Prince Harry apparently took a tube with him on his Antarctic trek last year and one is now sold every two minutes. Frenchwomen slather it on at night when their skin feels really dry and keep an emergency tube in their handbags for stings, bites, grazes, chapped lips – and even to tame nappy rash. It has a terrific farmyard smell – a sort of horsey pong redolent of stables and manure – but there’s a fragrance free version if it all gets a bit too much. Paris style guru Inès de la Fressange calls Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream ‘mythical’. The lady at the Debenhams beauty counter told me she lent some to the security guard when he scraped his knuckles and he was thrilled with the results.