Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
While Delphine wasn’t looking I crept up to her bedroom and had a look inside her half-packed suitcase. I spotted a DVD (La Piscine with Romy Schneider), a book (Tamara Mellon’s autobiography) and two exquisitely-cut swimsuits (Eres, bien sûr) but what I was really interested in were the contents of Delphine’s spongebag.
What beauty and skincare essentials was she taking with her on her annual summer holiday in the Landes?
Delphine’s spongebag: my top 10 discoveries
1. Guerlain Cils d’Enfer Maxi Lash in black, £22. I’ve always been sceptical about wasting hard-earned cash on mascara from luxury beauty brands but this is the best mascara I’ve ever used. It doesn’t clump or spike, it’s a deep, deep black and it gives full, dramatic lashes, the kind that make you feel a million dollars. I also love le packaging, a slinky gold tube that’s pure Alexis Carrington.
2. Green People Hydrating After Sun, £8.99 (100ml). The French are just as keen on eco beauty brands as we are. This is one of the best-known and comes in clean, attractive packaging that can sit happily alongside the Clarins and the Guerlain on your bathroom shelf. The product claims to cool sun-heated skin, prolong your tan and reduce peeling and is made with aloe vera, chamomile, calendula, myrrh and mint. It claims to be suitable for people with sensitive skin and those who are prone to eczema and psoriasis. French girls buy it in the basement of Whole Foods when they’re stocking up on the Camembert and non-bagged lettuce
3. Lancôme Aroma Tonic, £20. It takes a bit of effort to track down this scent, unless you buy it online, but I have seen it at big branches of Boots. Delphine uses it to freshen up after the beach and says it ‘smells of Lipton yellow tea with a slice of lemon in it.’ The makers say it has a fragrance of lime, cardamom and green maté. Online reviewers claim it never fails to lift their spirits. ‘It has a wonderful, fruity, zingy, happy smell.’ I didn’t fall in love with it but anything that acts as an anti-depressant gets the thumbs-up from me.
4. Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel, £19 (100ml). This lightweight gel has a great natural colour and is a favourite product among French girls. I persuaded the shop assistant to open a brand new tube so I could test it on my arm. I like the colour and shimmer – but for me the drawback is that unmistakable fake tan smell. It’s like being married to the wrong man. You fall asleep with it and it’s still there in the morning.
5. Dior Nail Glow nail polish, £18.50. This product that I’ve already blogged about gives a great rosy shine, whitens the nail tips and can be applied in the taxi or bus to the airport (it dries in 4 minutes flat). I’m a convert to Shellac when I can afford it but this is great for a bit of last-minute summer grooming.
6. Neal’s Yard Geranium and Orange Soap, £4.50. Hotels, even posh ones, are often stingy with the soap, forcing their guests to skate between bath and basin, so Delphine’s idea of bringing her own seems inspired. Neal’s Yard soap is expensive but it’s often discounted if you buy three – and it smells delicious. An added bonus is that the Neal’s Yard shops take a lot of trouble with the wrapping – a beribboned soap wrapped in white tissue is a lovely thing to discover in your holiday suitcase.
7. Guerlain Terracotta Moisturising Bronzing Powder, £34.50. For anyone who avoids the sun like I do but doesn’t want to look like a ghost on holiday this is a lifesaver. The product was in one of my first ever beauty posts, largely because every French girl I met raved about it. It gives a sunkissed glow to your complexion and is available in eight marvellous non-WAG shades.
8. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Suncream 50+ spf, £10.87. I’ve recommended La Roche-Posay several times already but that’s because it does the job so well. It’s light, non-greasy and easily absorbed, and smells clean and healthy. I wear it every day, love that it’s small and light enough to carry around, and I’ve even converted my mother to it.
9. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £26. The ever-practical Delphine carries a tube of this in her beach bag. It’s very useful for stings, bites, grazes and patches of dry skin i.e. just the sort of niggly problems you might encounter on an Atlantic or Mediterranean beach. I’m told it’s also good for nappy rash. The original version smells strongly of horses (and stables) which might be just the thing for polo players but is unlikely to get a big tick from anybody else. You have been warned.
10. Perhaps it’s inertia, but change in the toothpaste department is something the human race doesn’t adapt to easily. French girls who’ve come to London to escape Hollande’s taxes use the green-striped Fluocaril. I know because I’ve seen their bathrooms.