Book Review: The French Beauty Solution

The French Beauty Solution:  Time Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out by Mathilde Thomas (of Caudalie skin care).

I enjoyed skimming this book, and it inspired a spa night and a cotton ball full of perfume in my purse… but had I bought it, I would be utterly disappointed.  I snagged it at the library while my daughter was picking up research materials, so I’m going to share the good stuff.

Good stuff

  • The philosophy of beauty as something we inhabit throughout our lifetimes, not something reserved for youth alone
  • Makeup tips (minimalism)
  • Discussion of fragrance
  • Encouragement to take care of yourself as a non-negotiable
  • Classic wardrobe, well-kept and personal

Yawn Worthy

  • You noticed this woman has her own skin care line?  So… what do you think half the book consists of?  Ah yes.  So, while I like her emphasis on keeping the raw materials in top condition, the amount of pages (and detail!) that skin care consisted of made this book, as a whole, out of balance.   I have friends who like this level of detail (you know who you are, dahling) but I was hoping for more style tips and less instruction on at-home facial masks.
  • A grape cleanse?  Yeah.  ‘Nuff said.

I hope that this site has conveyed that beauty is something we inhabit through our lives, and that a classic wardrobe is the most chic, but something I struggle with is the finer points of self-care.   I am about as low-maintenance as a girl can be.

It was how I was raised.  California beauty isn’t too far from French beauty, although Californians are unapologetically athletic (and we don’t care about clothes as much).  My dad was of the opinion that a clean face, long, unfussy hair, and a bikini (possibly with sarong) were all a woman needed for true beauty.   How to be a Cali Girl?  1) Look good naked. 2) Wear clothing that implies you spend all your time at the beach, and it just sort of landed on you.  Impeccably draped if you want to show off… but basically, you want to look like you were at the beach today.

Looking good naked means that you need to be in top physical shape (unlike the French, we have no compunctions about a nip and tuck… or more… you do what you have to do), it means that your hair is well-cut and perfectly colored, and it means you have at least a glow.  You don’t need a to be the next Hawaiian Tropic girl, but …. well, again, you should look like you came from the beach.

Southern California doesn’t do much in the way of professional sports, but outdoor living?  Yes, please.  Surf, paddleboard, hike, bike, golf, run, crossfit, garden, …. why are you inside?  You pay a premium to live here, where you can be outside.  Go outside.  We like an athletic figure, so long as it’s trim.

So as I embark on more self-care (manicures, exfoliation, teeth-whitening, etc) I want to encourage you to do the same.  Your needs will vary with age and locale and lifestyle… but keeping your raw materials in as good a shape as you can manage is where external beauty begins.

At 43, I need a bit more than a quick shower and a bit of after-sun lotion… and it’s fun.

And for reminding me that it should be fun, and not a chore, I’ll raise a glass to Madame Thomas… even if my glass is water, not wine.



3 thoughts on “Book Review: The French Beauty Solution

  1. Elspeth

    I’ve experienced that…read a book that was heavily lopsided toward the author’s specialty/product when it was supposedly about a broader spectrum of the topic.



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