Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daytime Minimum Musts

Rinse and go.
Let's get this on the table, a confession: I never wash my face in the morning.

I rinse, often spritz with whatever mineral water I am currently using or sometimes -- when I'm feeling whimsical -- a spray of eau de rose or eau de bleuet (more on the eaux another day, they don't count in my minimum musts).

As you now know, once again thanks to my dermatologist, I am addicted, seriously addicted, to Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler cream for day. In the past I have been extremely happy with the products pictured below, below from Avène and La Roche-Posay, but the Eucerin does something I have never experienced with a cream; it makes the skin glow. You see a slight iridescence on the cheekbones and it does not have any reflective nacre bits in it.

Once a week I use the Avène gentle scrub or gommage (which means to "erase") gently rinse it off, and finish with a Clarasonic warm water polish.

I then follow the gommage with the Avène moisturizing mask. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, you can sleep in the mask from time to time if your skin is extra dry. You wake up feeling and looking beautiful. Just rinse.

For years, I have been using Talika Lipocils, a colorless gel on a mascara wand, to encourage my eyelashes to thicken and grow. They have. I realize one can ask her ophthalmologist for a prescription for glaucoma medication which produces similar results, but the Talika is probably less trouble and less expensive.

Regarding my use of Retin-A, I don't know, maybe I should be applying it before my Filorga Sleep And Peel. No matter what night cream I've used, I've always put the Retin-A on top, i.e. the last step. Next time I see Dr. Gallais, I'll ask her.

Another secret, strictly personal, once a week I leave my poor face in peace. I put nothing on it for 24 hours. We live in the country so a simple rinse/spritz suffices before bed. I change my pillowcase and let my skin breathe. I asked Dr. Gallais what she thought about my "technique," she offered a noncommital, "Pourquoi pas?" (Why not?)

When I posed the same question to estheticians I thought we would have to call in an emergency medical team. "What?!" they said. "You go to bed without moisturizing? That's crazy."

The products I used until recently. They are superb, but you don't get the Eucerin glow.
There you go. You can see my products are anything but glamorous, but they are truly the best of the best. Unfortunately the product that staves off the ravages of gravity has yet to be invented.

Off to Paris. . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nighttime Minimum Musts

Before I launch into what I do every night before I head for bed, let me tell you about a stunning technological slight of hand I pulled off with one light press of a button yesterday. After being informed this space was riddled with malware ("mal" from the Latin meaning bad, and "ware" the second syllable in silver-ware) I located the source -- or sources -- and set about erasing the culprits.

In so doing I was obliged to remove two blogs from my Favorites list, which obviously I thought I did with great skill and economy. I most certainly did. I erased the offenders AND every-single-other blog on the list. Never to be re-found. Like a house of cards.

Not that it will change your life or anything, but I shall recreate my list with diligence.

Now, down to business:

By popular demand -- at least three or four of you asked -- here follows what my simple, effective, no-nonsense every day, all the time products are for pre-bed prep. Over the months I've mentioned many or most of them, but now you'll see them in my daily routine format.


1.) Bioderma ABC Derm H20 Solution Micellaire (solution micellaire means it does not require rinsing). It's a baby product and comes, as you can see, in a completely unglamorous one liter pump container.

I squirt the clear liquid onto large, Lotus baby cotton squares imbibed with aloe vera. A day's grim usually disappears with the use of both sides, if not, take another.

2.) Just because. As mentioned above, rinsing is not necessary, I always spritz with a pure mineral water like Avène, La Roche Posay or Evian to name a few. One large can lasts for months. When one is finished I try another brand, mainly because each has a different type of spray nozzle and I think that's fun. Yes, my life is filled with excitement.

3.) Sometimes. I am, like so many of you, addicted to my Clarisonic brush. Truly it is an investment worth considering. When cleansing with my Bioderma, I often finish with warm water and a Clarisonic "polish" before applying my night cream.
4.) Occasionally. I cleanse my face -- more excitement to the routine -- with Gel Demaquillant Doucer from Avène and rinse it off with my Clarisonic, always finishing with my goodnight spritz.

Cream Care:

1.) Filorga Sleep And Peel. My dermatologist loves, loves, loves this product and now I understand why. It's brilliant. When you wake up in the morning you almost can't believe it. Well, almost.

2.) Until recently (but I'm so attached to these products I may keep them in the mix): Flavo-C serum and its complimentary cream. I believe it's thanks to this combo that my skin looks so amazing. It really does. I'm talking about the quality of my skin. The serum comes in two strengths. I have graduated from the eight to 15 percent L-ascorbic acid formula. If you ever doubted the efficacy of the antioxidant powers of high strength vitamin C, I can assure you from years of using these products, it/they work wonders.

3.) Intensive, focused, wrinkle prevention. You may have all sorts of products you love, but I credit 20 years of constant, as in every-single-night use of prescription Retin-A applied to potential wrinkle areas as the main reason I don't have major creases. Thanks to Retin-A, confirmed by my dermatologist btw, I have no barcode lines above my upper lip, nor do I have that lion whatsit crease between my eyes. Now, would I have had these otherwise? I'll never know. But an ounce of prevention. . .

Et voila, that's my nighttime routine. As you can see, the following products are not cluttering my bathroom shelves:

1.) Astringents.
2.) Toners (I don't even know, maybe they're for daytime use?)
3.) Nighttime lip balms.
4.) Eye creams.

My philosophy on the subject of beauty products is simple: Whatever you feel works for you, makes you happy and is fun to use is what you should be using. My products more than fulfill those requirements.

A demain for the daytime regime.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Patou On-The-Street

Patricia, "Patou," manages her friend Babette's shoe store which nestles temptingly against Coté Rue, Babette's clothing boutique.

Patou's purview includes the latest trendy styles (since we live so close to Paris, customers demand hip and hot) and all the newest ballerinas one could never imagine, among them scores of Repettos. (I'll photograph some of my favorites for you.)

Like Cristel, Stephanie, Brigitte and Babette featured previously in this series, Patou has her own, clearly defined style, French country with a hippy twist I would say. You like it or you don't, for me that's often not what interests me in the way women dress. I'm more attracted to how they define themselves through their clothes.

Certain looks I wouldn't dream of trying, let alone wearing out of the house, but what I like best is the attitude that goes with the way women assemble their choices. For me, that's what sets Frenchwomen apart. They know who they are and dress accordingly.

Ed. Noted: If you missed my comment last Monday, Brigitte, who appears 45-ish, max, is in her mid-50s.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Next Week Or La Semaine Prochaine

It's possible, perhaps probable, that I know exactly (almost) every post I will write next week. You asked about my six favorite products. I shall tell you what they are, plus a handful of auxiliary items I like to use, mainly because they're fun. They have their benefits, but they're not essential.

Cherie has e-mailed to inform me that since September debuts on Thursday she doesn't see the logic in asking the captain to turn the "boat" around to deliver her back to her post to post until what she refers to as "the real beginning of September" which is the week after next. Frankly, I have enough on my mind at the moment. I do not need to deal with her.

One subject, before the weekly line-up, I would like to address is a comment from Madame Anonymous who "accused" ("suggested"?) I hyped The Reveal to get more "hits," to "up my numbers" -- you get the idea. I thought you knew me better than that. I would never, ever trick or manipulate you. I have much too much respect and affection for you to do such a dastardly deed.

Now, to the week ahead:

Lundi: Patou On The Street

Mardi: Makeup Musts, Part I

Mercredi: Makeup Musts, Part II

Jeudi: Virtual Shopping for Fall, Part II

Vendredi: News & Views

Samedi: Surprise

Dimanche: Just like today, only different. . .

Ed. Note: Regarding Madeline and Nancy Drew (see yesterday's post please), Nancy Drew comes after Madeline. Andrea and I moved from Madeline, which was read to us in the beginning, to Nancy Drew which we could handle on our own. Very grown-up.

Happy Birthday my darling Drea.

A demain.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Birthday & A Reminiscence

Dear, sweet, precocious Madeline.

Barbar is about to celebrate his 80th birthday. For some reason he was never part of my childhood nor that of my daughter, but Madeline was. Oh, how we loved Madeline.

Barbar is 80!

As is my wont, I read today that Barbar is entering a new decade and my memory went reeling back to Madeline. I discovered she has her very own website and that the franchise, as everyone refers to "brands" these days (seems such bad taste to classify the adorable fille in such a tawdry materialistic category) continues to flourish.

Ludwig Bemelmans created the charming child in 1939. But best of all on my journey into our pasts I discovered his grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano, has written a children's book about manners. What a perfect gift for a child -- and her parents. What a perfect gift, full-stop.

Now I'm thinking, maybe I should see if Eloise is up to anything exciting these days.

If, like many parents and children, you had a doubt about how to pronounce Madeline, Monsieur Bemelmans told us in this famous opening stanza:

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, 
lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…
They left the house, at half past nine ...…
The smallest one was Madeline.

A demain. I hope you are having a safe, happy weekend.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Virtues of Vinaigre

Can't take your cider vinegar and water cocktail "straight up?" You can add a tablespoon of honey.

Apple cider vinegar is a magic potion. Reputedly it wards off insomnia and fatigue while at the same time boosting energy. But that's not all: cider vinegar re-establishes the PH of the skin as it softens, then it acts as an astringent and an antiseptic when applied locally.  It is credited with a number of other qualities related to more serious medical conditions which I shall eschew since that is not my purview.

Two tablespoons of vinegar in a tall glass of water is a brilliant appetite suppressant. In France, we're addicted to the stuff -- internally and externally.

Find the best of the best, the purest of the pure.

Words of caution: You cannot grab any old bottle of cider vinegar off the grocery shelf. It must be pure, all the better if it comes from a farm, has a nice biological label (ecologically sourced label?). It's worth the time and effort to find the best of the best. It must be golden and limpid.

I am not a DIY beauty addict. I have my six favorite products and that's it. They're simple, "performant" as the French say and I couldn't be happier. However, I'm drawn to cider vinegar and it's promises -- not the ones where you are required to whip up some cream with wheat germ and olive oil, waaay too messy and I've outgrown the thrill.

Since cider vinegar is rich in minerals, enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants, beta carotene and of course pectin, a morning that starts with the vinegar/water cocktail does give the day a kick-start. As a natural diuretic: 1.5 liters of water (approximately three pints) and 10 cl of vinegar (about 1/3 cup) is most effective.

If a splashy rinse is not appealing, apply your vinegar/water astringent with cotton pads.
If, like chez nous, your water is hard a final rinse of a tablespoon of vinegar in a half cup of water closes the pores and rinses away harsh minerals in the water. You'll note it has the same effect on your bathroom sink. . .

You already know about the hair rinse, sunburn, bug bite benefits so I didn't think we needed a review in those areas.

Ed. Note: All of you in harm's way -- I'm thinking about the hurricane, but it applies always and ever -- take care.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

News & Views, This & That

Hermes. For years, I considered caftans "at home wear" and I have yet to meet a woman who wears long, lush leather gloves chez elle.

During my first day out on my virtual shopping expedition yesterday, I realized once again what some clothes represent. I remember thinking years ago, when I saw a pair of pink satin, marabou-puffed mules chez Chanel, "now, that's the life I would like to lead." In my dreams.

Furthermore, for some inexplicable reason, one of my dogs -- and she's huge -- steps on my shoes at least three or four times a day. I don't lead a satin muled life.

While pulling some of my choices together I discovered the coral caftan from Hermes. It is pure glamor and suggests a lifestyle. When clothes are evocative and transcend the quotidian, I find them fascinating.

Moving along. . . It's a headline day:

Would You? Could You?

Seriously, would you plunk down 700 Euros for one of these Olympia Le-Tan embroidered cotton sacs?

I'm merely asking.

Oh, And I Thought It Was Jewelry. . .

Boxes of Patrick Roger chocolates.

Let's say you are sometimes momentarily blinded by excitement -- an odor that harkens cherished memories, a color that signals Tiffany (!) for example.

Tiffany. That's what I thought for a nanosecond the first time I saw a box of chocolates from Patrick Roger . They are delicious, but they're not keepsakes.

At the moment the magazines are suggesting we run out and buy a collection of his chocolate marbles. They apparently make us think of back-to-school. I would think a chocolate iPad would make children think "back-to-school," but what do I know?

At the moment, I'm in my third week of dieting with Dr. Pierre Dukan. I don't think I'll be permitted to  savor a piece of chocolate until late 2012.

Not Just Another White Shirt

Under the subject of we can never own too many white shirts, another example to prove the point, from COS .

Logo Mania

Look at it this way, the vertiginous "Fetish" shoes (that's what they're called) featuring sweet petite patent leather ribbon bows are probably waterproof. Price: 630 Euros.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fall Fashion Reveal** Part I

I'll take this Celine dress please: one each in black, navy, gray and the color above. Merci par avance.

Autumn is my favorite season. When I was a child, my parents and I would fly from Buffalo, NY, to New York City to shop for my back-to-school clothes -- we stayed in a hotel (!), room service (!) just like Eloise, a play, a musical, dinners in restaurants (!) -- it was almost too much excitement for a little girl. I loved every second of it.

My parents were older and I think they often forgot I wasn't a miniature adult. Lucky me.

My mother guided me so gently in the proper vestment direction that I thought I made all my own wardrobe decisions. Then my father would tell me what extraordinary taste I had and how divine I looked in my new clothes which called for a celebratory dinner en famille in some swank restaurant.

I think, scientifically speaking, this is called "imprinting." In any case, the experience made an enormous and lasting impression upon me.

Celine. Note the leather detail on the sleeves. That's what sets it apart.
A classic, an investment, but if choosing between this Celine and the one above, I'd take the one above.
Dear Mr. Armani, Would you be so kind as to let down the hem on the pants? I'll take the suit. Thank you so much; it's perfection.
As August wanes and September beckons, I want to shop. Every year at about this time I long for something new.

Giorgio Armani -- just the jacket.
Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Hermes. Maybe not, but it is pretty.
Nina Ricci. So not me, but I'll try it to see whether I can break out of my mold.
Today then, I shall begin my -- alas virtual -- fall 2011 shopping expedition. I plan to approach the task the way I would if it were not virtual, that is to say: fill-in, fill-out and add excitement to what is presently in my closet. In other words, shopping the French way. I will not choose random items -- unless one, and only one piece, is so extraordinary it cannot be left behind. I will be freshening and expanding the possibilities of what I already own.

Very French indeed.

Louis Vuitton. Skirts only. You probably think I would take the black, but I wouldn't. I'd take the blue. (I already have a black sequined evening skirt.)
Here's the plan: from now through September I shall pull clothes into my fantasy dressing room and by the end of the month I will have culled through them and made my decisions on what I will "add" to my wardrobe. By all means, tell me what you think. Tell me what you like.

**An Explanation: Yes, I had planned an entirely different "Reveal" for today -- you know I would never trick you with taunts and teases. I had to postpone it because two important elements are missing. I promise to keep you au courant. I apologize.
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