Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: The French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas

Synopsis: When Mathilde Thomas moved from her native France to the United States to expand her skin-care company, Caudalíe, she wanted to find out what American women wanted from their beauty routines. She interviewed thousands of women and was struck by how different the French and American approaches to beauty were. American women are all about the quick fix—the elusive product or procedure that will instantly solve a nagging beauty problem, even if it hurts, is wildly expensive, or is damaging in the long term. The French, by contrast, approach beauty as an essential and pleasurable part of the day, a lifelong and active investment that makes you look and feel good. Mathilde used these insights to turn Caudalíe into one of America’s top beauty brands. Drawing on her company’s twenty years of scientific skin-care expertise backed by the research of doctors and dermatologists—as well as the beauty secrets she learned growing up on a vineyard in Bordeaux—The French Beauty Solution covers everything from how to use natural ingredients such as oil and honey to wash your face; what foods to eat for healthier hair, skin, and nails; and the amazing properties of grapes and grapeseed oil. She also introduces an easy three-day grape cleanse that European aristocrats have been using to detox for hundreds of years. Blending stories, science, DIY recipes, and tons of savoir faire, The French Beauty Solution is the last beauty regimen you’ll ever need. (from the back of the book)

Review: I chose this book because I am a beauty disaster. Meaning, if I remember to brush my hair, it's a good day. I don't want complicated beauty regimes, nor would I be able to sustain one anyway. This seemed the right sort of advice for that. And for the most part, it was. Thomas has a kind cheery writing stlye, peppering her paragraphs with french words and anecdotes about her childhood on a farm in France. Her advice and information is not anything ground-breaking - the idea one should use natural products and eschew chemicals isn't new. She did have some interesting tricks and tips, and I would love to, as she says, get to the point where I feel confident enough in my skin that I can leave off the make-up. And her advice is designed to help the reader accomplish this seemingly impossible task.
My complaints are that, occasionally, she forgets us mere mortals can't afford $50 eyeliner, and several times, it felt like the book was a giant advertisement for her company, Caudalie. However, she also gives the recipe for several Caudalie products, and recipes for many more items (hair, face, and body scrubs, creams etc.). It's clear she isn't about hoarding her knowledge, but sharing it. I liked that. She's clearly a fan of grapes, lauding them as the miracle food/cure. Meh. I'm inherently skeptical when someone claims XYZ is the answer to all your problems - and encouraging women to eat nothing but grapes for 3 days and calling it a cleanse? Eh, that's a a bit too nonsensical for my taste.
The part where she explained the benefits or dangers of many of the chemicals we find in our beauty products was the most helpful, in my mind. Now, when I read the ingredients on the back of my shampoo, I know what I'm reading - and what those mysterious items will do to my skin and hair. That's knowledge worth having.
I plan to try some of her recipes. Thankfully, most of the ingredients are items you can buy at the grocery store or health food store - things like oatmeal, avocado, olive oil, baking soda, essential oils. At least in that aspect, she remembered not all of us can afford expensive beauty treatments. As far as books on beauty go, I would recommend this one, despite its flaws. Instead of the standard approach of teaching women how to hide their real face, Thomas encourages women to be natural, to exalt in their "flaws" and to proudly flaunt what makes them unique. That's the sort of beauty I want - and I think we need.

Note: I received this book free as part of LibraryThing's Early Review Program, in exchange for my fair and honest opinion

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-592-40951-8
Date Finished: 6-14-2015
Pages: 259

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