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Beauty Comes From Within (And From Shopping In France)

For a French girl, I’m remarkably low-maintenance. Like I explained before, some women claim their husband wouldn’t recognize them without make-up — mine won’t recognize me if I put make-up on.

I do have a fondness for cream though. I probably got it from my mother who insatiably test and collect various creams, commenting on their textures and their efficiency. Putting cream on is comforting and their smell often remind me of places I’ve been too: for instance, I used the Olive Body Butter from Body Shop in Australia 7 years ago and to this day, it still makes me think of Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.

I don’t buy creams often but I’m always on the look for a great face cream which will protect me from our harsh Canadian winters. Last year, after completing an early morning exam at university, I walked through The Bay and sampled a few creams at the beauty counter — that’s how I relax. Pathetic, I know. One of the salesgirls must have sensed I was in the mood to spend money and she presented me with a few samples. I must have looked interested: she gave me a small white beauty case with two samples inside. “You will see”, she claimed. “You will come back to buy the cream in less than a couple of weeks”.

The cream she gave me smelled great. It felt great — the texture was soft and rich, yet it didn’t leave any oily film. My skin was glowing and it wasn’t so dry after a couple of days, which was no small miracle considering we were in February. One night, I looked that miracle cream up on the web, determined to go back to The Bay to buy it. I was ready to dig deep in my pocket. I wanted it badly.

I gasped when I saw how much it was. And that was the online price, in US$. Let just say I could have bought a very nice Ipod for the price of the small jar, and another zoom lens for my camera for the price of the not-so-small jar. Bah.

I felt like one of those people who are offered drugs at a party, got hooked and ended up selling their car for a few grams of crack or whatever is trendy these days. The girl at the counter had me hooked on the best cream ever by giving me a free sample. I decided to do the sensible thing: I just said no. I’m not spending that much on a cream, this is ridiculous, no matter how good it is.

During this trip to France, I went back to basics and shopped for creams and beauty products that are a great value and yet don’t break my bank account.

I bought:

  • Les Gouttes Bleues (Innoxa, €4.50) : really cool eye drops that relax tired eyes and make the sclera looks very white.
  • Argan Oil Cream and Oil (around €15 each): this nutritive oil is great to repair dry skin. The cream is moisturizing yet not oily.
  • L’Occitane soaps (€9 for three soaps): for the longest time, I used liquid soap before I eventually realized it was expensive and I switched back to bar soap. L’Occitane, a company based in Southern France, has great products inspired from Mediterranean beauty rituals. These soaps smell good, are moisturizing and last me for quite a while.
  • Pierre d’Alun (€7): Alun is a chemical compound that can be used for a variety of thing, including as a deo. I’m not a huge fan of North America deos, I find the smell strong and they tend to stain clothes. Funny thing, I heard a lot of Americans complain about French deo… I guess our bodies are just different! The Pierre d’Alun, a deodorant stone, is supposed to last for ages, just wet it a bit and rub on the skin as you would do with other deos. It works very well and has no smell.
  • Nuxe Crème Fraîche (Nuxe, €22): this is one of the best face cream I know. I love Nuxe products in general, they are not too expensive and the quality is great. This cream smells good, moisturizes the skin yet doesn’t leave an oily film. Plus, it’s about €150 cheaper than the famous French cream mentioned above…
  • Nuxe Honey Lip Balm (Nuxe, €8): I had to buy this one, the box stated it was the tests were conducted in conditions of extreme Canadian cold! It smells of honey and makes the lips super smooth.
  • Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse (Nuxe, €10): this shimmery oil is truly multipurpose and can be used on the face, body and hair. It repairs dry patches and makes the skin glow.
Gouttes Bleues from Innoxa
Huile d'Argan Cream and Body Oil
L'Occitance Soaps
Pierre D'Alun (Natural Deo)
Nuxe Products: Shimmery Body Oil, Face Cream and Honey Lip Balm
Tests Conducted in Conditions of Extreme Canadian Cold!

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