It's pretty clear from experiences traveling and reading the never ending gamut of articles touting the "secrets" to French beauty that the French approach to beauty is not similar to our personal "war" on beauty. Our Parisian counterparts appear to keep stress low and beauty routines simple (the polar opposite of the 12, or perhaps 15, step Korean beauty rituals). This is not to say that they don't put in effort, but they are not running to the dermatologist's office for this exotic treatment or that new injection. Yet French women possess enviable skin that exudes youth, health and radiance. How, pray tell, do they do it?
Some attribute this to a key component we've been missing from our skin care process. Micellar water. Everyone from Vogue to Huffington Post has written about this liquid Holy Grail. A simple liquid that removed makeup, clears away impurities and deposits nutrients on the skin while toning? It sounds absolutely dreamy. So why aren't we using it? Perhaps we are non-believers in its powers. Perhaps our "work harder" mentality prevents us from a more gentle, mineral-rich approach to skin care. But perhaps... just perhaps, we're doing it all wrong and our scarf-wearing, ballet-flat bearing sisters have a secret we need to be exploring.
Used à la parisienne, micellar water REPLACES the use of any tap water. The thinking behind this approach is that water from the faucet is harsh and taxes skin with buildup and additives that advance the aging process. Rather than scrub-a-dub-dub twice daily over your basin, what about a softer, gentler approach? What if you swabbed a cotton pad loaded with this simple (and largely inexpensive) liquid and washed away the cares of the day while balancing, toning and nourishing skin? What if?
According to a Vogue article:
“It’s the modern soap,” explains New York City facialist (and Paris export) Isabelle Bellis, who regularly uses it in her bespoke treatments. Acting like a multitasking solution, most formulas don’t require additional rinsing with water, which can further strip sensitive skin in the colder months. Bellis, however, uses it almost like a toner, swiping a soaked cotton ball over the skin after cleansing, then following it with a gentle mist of thermal water, which contains more nourishing minerals and fewer chemicals than what comes from the tap.
The beloved product, which has become increasingly available stateside in recent years, has been spotted in the kits of backstage makeup artists and the bathrooms of models worldwide, with Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 and Orlane’s brightening, antioxidant-rich formula topping the must-have list. But micellar water’s magic properties don’t stop there. Paris-based makeup artist Violette also relies on it to master a sleek cat-eye. “To perfect the line, I use it on a Q-tip and clean up the edges,” she says. “No need to rinse—it’s superfast and efficient.” Enough said. Here are the nine formulas worth considering for your own medicine cabinet.
Am I ready to give it a go? Yes. yes, I am. By and large the brand mentioned most by beauty editors (especially those in Europe) is Embryolisse, boasting a loving and gentle product line to boot. I'm reading reviews on it as well as the others listed here below. I'm loving the idea of a nutrient-dense fluid to smooth over skin that can somehow, someway serve as a cleanser. Is it possible? Parisians (and skin pros) confirm it is. And I can't wait to add this luxurious, less aggressive step to my daily beauty ritual.
How about you? Are you already hip to this marvelous method? I'd love to hear from you!