One of my very, very favorite things about visiting Paris is being able to spend time with my dear friend Tish, who pens the incomparable blog, A Femme D’Un Certain Age, and most recently authored Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance. Tish and I got acquainted though our blogs, bien sur, and met in person for the first time in 2009. We hit it off right away, and every time we see each other it’s almost like no time has passed.
This time we’d arranged to meet for lunch, and wouldn’t you know for 15 minutes le Monsieur and I were waiting at a table outside the restaurant while Tish was waiting inside! But once we found each other, wine and lunch were soon ordered and our splendid afternoon was underway. I’m going to tell you something about Tish: she is one of the most utterly charming people you will ever meet and no one is immune, not even French waiters and waitresses. After a few minutes they’ve transformed from busy and dismissive to our new best friends who recommend items from the menu and top off our wine. After lunch, le Monsieur bid us adeiu to go and scope out a few more chocolateries while Tish and I got down to some serious beauty business.
For those who haven’t yet read “Forever Chic,” Tish has done some serious beauty research*, and always shares her latest finds when I visit. This time she’d planned for us to visit the Clarins Institute in Neuilly sur Seine to try some new products. I’ve been a user and fan of many of Clarins plant-based products for some years now, and was looking forward to tagging along and being the beneficiary of the expertise of the staff and Tish’s recommendations, as well as her command of the French language. (While I speak and understand at an intermediate level, there are nuances that are lost on me.)
The aesthetician who was assisting us offered some suggestions based on my own areas of concern and her evaluation of my skin. But it was Tish’s recommendations that went home with me:
1. For firming my softening jawline, she recommended this Shaping Facial Lift serum, which supposed to firm contours and assist with “lymphatic drainage.” Well, OK. I’ll try anything once. 🙂 Tish swears by it and her skin looks fabulous. There’s a whole set of facial massage exercises that one go along with this; I’m still figuring these out.
#2 and #3 go together. I know I keep saying that I’ve given up on foundation, but do feel that I need something more than just tinted sunscreen to even my skin tone. I’ve been using #2, the Beauty Flash Balm for some time now as a primer/radiance-enhancer. Tish recommended I try #3, the Extra Comfort SPF 15 Foundation which is one of the best I’ve found in a long time. It doesn’t settle into my pores or clump or develop too much of “gleam” over time (a problem I’ve found with many illuminating foundations). Wouldn’t you know it’s not available yet in the US. 🙁 (But I think it’s possible to order from Clarins UK, which I’ve linked to.) You’re supposed to use the Beauty Flash Balm as a primer and then apply the foundation, but one of the things the aesthetician kept talking about was that products can be mixed to customize, so once I got home I tried mixing just a little bit of the BFB with the foundation, and it goes on like a dream in our drier climate! Stays on all day too. Love this foundation!!
I have the world’s driest lips. Really. And I panic if I realize I’ve left the house without lip balm. #4, the Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm is a real treatment, and does keep my lips feeling hydrated for hours. #5 is a nice not-too-goopy lip gloss that also prevents dryness, and adds just a hint of color.
In addition to the generous samples, my purchases had entitled me to pick a product as a free gift, and I went with #6, a very light, fresh and citrus-y fragrance that will be perfect for the warmer months. It was such a treat to visit and receive such personal and knowledgeable help.
Once we’d done our damage at Clarins, it was time to hit Tish’s favorite Monoprix. I have to say the one on Champs Elysées, which used to be fantastic a few years ago has really gone downhill. This Neuilly “Monop” was orderly and well-stocked. I was trying to find a fun tee shirt for Jeune Homme, but most of the graphic tees featured U.S. college names, sports teams or Brooklyn. (Brooklyn is apparently a “thing” in France.) Tish found me some of the blue eye drops she’s written about.
By then we were both ready for a coffee. We found a tabac a couple of doors down, and settled in for a chat. Within a few minutes, the place began filling up with sweaty footballers who started swilling beers and singing their team songs. It was quite a scene! But we still managed to have quite a lovely visit until, sadly, it was time for me to hop back on the metro and head back to the hotel to meet up with le Monsieur for dinner.
In a perfect world, Tish and I would be able to get together weekly for lunch, a little shopping, and scintillating conversation. Thank you again, Tish, for such a lovely afternoon!
*And judging from Tish’s own gorgeous skin and hair, the information she shares is definitely worth trying!
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