It’s safe to say French women have the market cornered on “effortless” beauty and aging gracefully. No one exemplifies that more than Mathilde Thomas, who, along with her husband, Bertrand, is the brains and face behind innovative French beauty brand Caudalie.
Caudalie was one of the first beauty lines I ever discovered in Sephora, almost seven years ago, thanks to a store-person raving about the brand’s effective use of resveratrol (a now-famous grape-derived antioxidant compound, which Caudalie was utilizing years before it was buzzy). Having grown up on a vineyard in Grenoble, France, Thomas learned firsthand the beauty power that could be harnessed from grapes, and to this day she’s a walking advertisement for her all-natural skincare line. I had the chance to meet Thomas in person in honor of the launch of her new book, The French Beauty Solution, and she’s everything you would imagine an authentically French beauty brand founder to be: confident, gorgeous, and actually glowing. She’s the kind of woman who makes you think, I want whatever she’s having/drinking/doing. Lucky for us, Thomas wrote her book (an interesting, informative, and delightful must-read) to explain how to take a holistic approach to living beautifully, from the inside out. To hold you over until you’ve nabbed your copy, she also took the time to answer our prying questions and share a few of her secrets here today. So keep scrolling to learn all about beauty from someone who knows best!
When did you start taking care of your skin?
MT: "I started paying attention to skincare at a young age. I grew up in Grenoble, a small French village at the foot of the French Alps, where I discovered my first beauty secrets. I had access to dozens of the best beauty regimens in my own backyard. My grandmother would teach me how to make face masks from honey, and hair masks with rum and olive oil. As I got older, she taught me the benefits of using a moisturizer with antioxidants and how important a good skincare ritual was, and figuring out what routine works best for my skin type. This belief has been something I’ve carried with me through my life."
How has your skincare routine changed over the years?
MT: "My skincare has changed over time because your skin transforms with age and with the change in lifestyles over time. With that being said, I needed to adjust the products in my regimen to target these new concerns. When I was younger I focused on products that were rich in polyphenols to defend my skin from free radicals. As I got older, I started incorporating ingredients such as resveratrol to target fine lines and wrinkles."
If you could tell yourself one thing about skincare, 20 years ago, what would it be?
MT: "Aging is inevitable! Make love not war with your skin. Embrace your youthful glow and age with grace, live in the here and the now, and be happy with what you got and not what you’ll never have. Don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t try too hard. It’s about being your best self. Make yourself a priority. Be smart about your choices."
What have you learned about taking care of your skin from the French women in your own life: mother, grandmother, friends, etc.?
MT: "Skincare and beauty is considered an art de vivre in France. It’s the art of living, and it was how my parents and grandparents raised me to believe. It doesn’t always have to be the most expensive products, but products with natural ingredients that work well for each individual. Women are meant to feel good in the skin they are in; this is a belief my mother and grandmother instilled in me at a very young age."
Is there one thing you WON'T do to your skin?
MT: "I always decode a label if I am testing out another skincare product that is not Caudalie. I would never use a product that includes animal ingredients, apricot pits, benzoyl peroxide, hydroquinone, mineral oil and petroleum jelly, phthalates, or any preservatives."
Can you walk me through your a.m.-to-p.m. beauty/skincare routine? What are you must-have beauty products?
MT: "In the morning, I clean my face with the Instant Foaming Cleanser then spritz the Grape Water to soothe and moisturize. I then spritz Beauty Elixir to awaken and tighten pores. Next I apply the Vinoperfect Serum and dab my Premier Cru Eye Cream around my eyes. Then I apply my Vinoperfect Tinted Moisturizer. Next, the Caudalie Mineral Bronzer, spritz of Beauty Elixir, MAC concealer for dark circles. I apply Caudalie Lip Conditioner, Nars Lip Pencil, and Lancôme Mascara. All in five minutes!
At night, I clean my skin with a blend of foaming cleanser, gentle cleanser, and I add an exfoliating scrub once a week. I spritz the Beauty Elixir to awaken tight pores, then I apply an oil. It really depends on the season. In the winter I’ll wear the Premier Cru Elixir or apply a blend of the Vinosource Overnight Recovery Oil and Polyphenol C 15 Overnight Detox Oil."
Do you have any strange skincare secrets or rituals?
MT: "Before I put my eye mask on, whether it be on a plane or at night before bed, I turn up my eyelashes so when I take the mask off my eyelashes have a proper curl!"
If you had to ID one secret weapon for ageless skin, what would it be?
MT: "SPF! You must wear SPF! It’s the number one secret to prevent aging. I wear SPF 50 on my face and SPF 30 on my body when I’m in the sun. A moisturizer with SPF 20 during the day is key.
Also, drink one glass of red wine every day and have at least one 30-minute walk."
What skincare mistakes have you learned from in your own life?
MT: "NEVER touch a blemish/pimple."
What's your absolute best skincare advice for women everywhere?
MT: "Start a good skincare regimen when you are young, never fail to use sunscreen, and educate yourself about ingredients that are truly effective and what works best for your skin type."
What do you ALWAYS travel with, for your skin?
MT: "I never leave home without my Premier Cru Face and Eye Cream. It’s the perfect three-in-one product to hydrate, tone, and defend skin against wrinkles when on the go. The Lip Conditioner is also an essential, especially on a long flight."
What is always in your bag/purse?
MT: "Caudalie Beauty Elixir to go is always in my purse. It sets my makeup and is the perfect pick-me-up throughout the day! It’s the Starbucks for the skin."
Keep scrolling to shop Thomas' new book, The French Beauty Solution, and to shop all of her favorite beauty products mentioned in this story.