SKIN­CARE The French’s savoir faire on treat­ing acne. By Vic­to­ria DiPlacido

Vic­to­ria DiPlacido trav­els to Paris for a les­son in treat­ing acne à la française.

ELLE (Canada) - - Contents -

“DO FRENCHWOMEN even break out?” I in­ter­rupt Mathilde Thomas, co­founder of the French pow­er­house skin­care brand Cau­dalie. We’re sit­ting in her of­fice in Paris’ bustling 8th ar­rondisse­ment, where she’s pre­sent­ing me with the com­pany’s first prod­uct line for ac­neic skin. There’s a wellestab­lished myth that the French are ge­net­i­cally ca­pa­ble of scarf­ing down croissants for three meals a day, never work­ing out and chas­ing their glass of Pinot with a cig­a­rette with­out neg­a­tive con­se­quences. While I re­al­ize that this is, in­deed, a myth, I fol­low too many seem­ingly clear-skinned Parisians on In­sta­gram not to ask. But acne is, in fact, a univer­sal prob­lem—Thomas as­sures me of that. Af­ter eight years abroad im­mers­ing her­self in in­ter­na­tional skin­care in New York and Seoul be­fore re­turn­ing home to Paris ear­lier this year, she should know.

The re­search backs her up: Based on a 2014 sur­vey by mar­ket-re­search firm CSA Health, one-third of Frenchwomen have com­bi­na­tion to oily skin (which may or may not be ac­neic but has sim­i­lar needs), and in Canada one in five women get break­outs, ac­cord­ing to the Acne and Rosacea So­ci­ety. “Alors,” says Thomas, “we need this col­lec­tion.”

The causes of acne are com­plex, she tells me. There are in­ter­nal fac­tors, like hor­monal changes and ge­net­ics, and ex­ter­nal fac­tors, like pol­lu­tion and stress. The North Amer­i­can ap­proach to deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion is of­ten to go hard (lasers, peels, dou­ble-digit-strength

ac­tive in­gre­di­ents) or go home—and cover it up with makeup. Cau­dalie’s ap­proach is de­cid­edly less ag­gres­sive. (I think of it as the mi­cel­lar wa­ter of acne care: gen­tle but su­per­ef­fec­tive.) The crux of the new Vinop­ure line, which in­cludes a pu­ri­fy­ing toner, an ex­fo­li­at­ing serum and a mat­ti­fy­ing fluid (a forth­com­ing cleanser is still be­ing per­fected), is a patented combo of an­tiox­i­dant-rich grape polyphe­nols (the brand’s sig­na­ture in­gre­di­ent) and or­ganic es­sen­tial oils. To­gether, they form a com­plex that has been proven to pre­vent se­bum from ox­i­diz­ing and thereby in­hibits the growth of acne bac­te­ria. Round­ing out the for­mula are hy­drat­ing grape wa­ter and nat­u­rally de­rived (from wil­low bark) and nat­u­rally pro­cessed sal­i­cylic acid. The lat­ter is key: Sal­i­cylic acid can be sourced from plants or syn­thet­ics (like petrol­eum), the sci­en­tific team at Cau­dalie tell me, but the dis­til­la­tion process for both is of­ten chem­i­cal, which would negate the com­pany’s man­date of cre­at­ing nat­u­ral prod­ucts.

The line kicks off what Thomas calls Cau­dalie’s Green Rev­o­lu­tion 2.0. Al­though the brand has al­ways opted for nat­u­ral in­gredi­ents over syn­thetic ones when­ever pos­si­ble, re­cent cos­metic in­no­va­tions have brought about nat­u­ral sub­sti­tutes for things like sil­i­cones and poly­eth­yl­ene gly­col used to cre­ate the sat­is­fy­ing slip we’ve come to ex­pect of lo­tions. The sup­posed di­chotomy of nat­u­ral/in­ef­fec­tive and harsh/ef­fec­tive is chang­ing, says Thomas. In a clin­i­cal test of the Vinop­ure mat­ti­fy­ing fluid, Cau­dalie found that se­bum lev­els were re­duced by 36 per­cent af­ter daily use for 56 days. Per­haps I had it right about the French af­ter all. ®

The North Amer­i­can ap­proach to acne is to go hard or go home—and cover it up with makeup.

Cau­dalie Vinop­ure Skin Per­fect­ing Serum ($59) has a light, wa­tery tex­ture in­spired by Korean skin­care. For de­tails, see Shop­ping Guide. In the early ’90s, Thomas met a pro­fes­sor (who spe­cial­ized in polyphe­nols) at her par­ents’ vine­yard, Château Smith Haut Lafitte (above), in Bordeaux. He saw a vat of grape seeds to be dis­carded and told Thomas it was a shame to waste all the an­tiox­i­dants—and thus Cau­dalie was born.

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