Don’t be rouge | Fashion

Getting red carpet ready in France

Back from a French pharmacy, our columnist has tips for instant spot treatment, white teeth and sparkling eyes

A few weeks back I went to Nice, France. I was excited about meeting a dear friend who lives there, but I was also really looking forward to a Biologique Recherche facial. So I booked myself an appointment at their flagship spa. “Beaucoup des boutons,” my facialist kept saying as I winced in pain during extraction. I would be lying if I said that I looked amazing after the facial. I was raw, red and felt like a plucked chicken. But I knew this was just a temporary condition as not only was my skin purged of impurities, but I also left with an armload of Biologique Recherche products.

The goodies I bought include the iconic Lotion P50, which has cult status and is also called ‘Jesus in a bottle’. I didn’t get the original 1970s version which is now banned in the E.U. as it contains phenol. But I did get the refurbished version which contains polyhydroxy, salicylic, lactic and phytic acids. For the uninitiated, polyhydroxy and lactic acids are great for sensitive skin; salicylic acid helps unplug pores, and phytic acid helps reduce pigmentation. How cool is that? I also got the Serum Complexe Iribiol, a spot treatment that contains zinc, salicylic acid and iris extract to treat and prevent breakouts. Then I got the Masque Vivant and Creme Dermopurifiant, both of which smell absolutely disgusting.

While I did experience a period of purging — where I got two or three new spots partly because of the extraction during the facial, and partly because of new skincare — my face is now completely smooth. The under-the-skin bumps that I thought would never go away have vanished, and I have no new breakouts. The Serum Complex Iribiol either dries spots swiftly or brings them to a head much quicker so they don’t lurk under the surface. The Masque Vivant is so stinky that even I (who am used to stinky products) couldn’t bear it’s yeasty sewage-like smell. Still, it gives the smoothest finish and reduces irritation. Even the Creme Dermopurifante, which also has a similar yet mild stench is wonderful for skin which is breakout-prone, oily, yet dehydrated.

I’ve always loved French pharmacy products, but I feel that I’ll be using the Lotion P50 and Masque Vivant forever. My other skincare favourites from France include the Bioderma Sensibio H2O — I know there there are other micellar waters but this one is far superior. It’s non-irritating, non-drying and doesn’t leave a film on your face. Then there’s the ultimate skincare secret — Collosal Eau de Lait, which is passed down through generations. It’s a watery, milky cleanser that swipes away dirt while making your skin ultra soft. I bought this after I read that Alessandra Steinherr, former beauty director of Glamour UK and my skincare idol, has been using it for years. To double cleanse, I use Bioderma first and Collosol next.

The other two products that I buy from the pharmacies are toothpaste and eye drops. Elgydium Blancheur is the the best whitening toothpaste that will leave your teeth white without breaking down the enamel. It’s no wonder that it’s a favourite with Hollywood celebrities who stock it up when they visit France. Then there are the Innoxa Blue Eyedrops that are better than Clearine to clear up red eye whites. I love them so much because not only do they make the whites whiter but also reduce puffiness around the eyes. Just a drop or two in each eye before a party gives your face that special sparkle that people notice but cannot pin down.

The last thing I got before leaving France was a fresh haircut. While I do enjoy growing my hair in the hope of wearing it long and loose, once I achieve the length, I find it stifling. So I always wear it up in a tight chignon, which sort of defeats the purpose of long hair. Dessange in Nice was too much temptation to resist, also because I love French aesthetics when it comes to hair — messy and undone. After grilling my hairstylist about his experience, I settled for a choppy bob, which looks better every time I wash it. Even in India I have a French hairstylist, Laurent Visco at Rossano Ferreti, who gives my hair the ultimate no-haircut cut, which is ideal if you, like me, hate blowdries. While France is the ultimate beauty destination, this time it has been transformational for me. I’ve left with clear skin, chic hair and confidence to boot.

A fortnightly column to remind you about all things skin deep.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 3:38:29 PM |

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