I’ve been a big fan of French skincare brand Clarins since I first started writing about the beauty industry many years ago as editor of Cosmetics magazine and a style writer for the National Post newspaper. Having visited the labs in Paris, interviewed the family members and spent time with the head of research and development, I’ve gained an inside understanding of why the brand is so beloved around the world. At first, I thought it was because of the company’s expertise in plant actives, a passion for founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins. But over time, I began to understand that it was also the expertise from their spas around the world that made the products so efficacious. It wasn’t just the products themselves, but how they are used that led to healthy, glowing skin. I thought I’d share some of these techniques, insider tips and spa methods in hopes that you might find them helpful in your daily skincare regimes.
In the days leading up to March 2020, most of our lives were hurtling along at warp speed. The mantra seemed to be “How to pack more into fewer hours in a day.” Martha Stewart once declared she only slept three hours a night in order to be more productive. But Martha could have taken lessens from a Hollywood actress who took time management to a whole new level. I had the pleasure of interviewing Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria for the launch of her signature fragrance years ago and was shocked to learn that she schedules every minute of every day. “It’s the only way I can get everything done I want to achieve,” she told me eyeing her watch. She would schedule business phone calls from the time she left her car at the studio to the time it took her to walk to her dressing room. Hair and makeup? She scheduled meetings with her agent and publicist. And in between takes on the tv set, she’d study for her business degree. She was the ultimate multi-tasker. And for the record, I was allotted three minutes and thirty seconds for the interview. I can’t imagine how much time she had for skincare in the morning? Her prevailing theory is you could have it all if you maximized efficiencies.
This concept extended into the bathrooms of many North American women who snapped up multi-purpose skincare products that promised to give you 15 more seconds of sleep in the morning. Anything that promised “faster” became bestsellers.
Then the global Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Our ultra-fast lives screeched to a halt.
Full stop. Lockdowns spread across continents and we were suddenly forced to stop our hectic lives. Many people slowly gained an appreciation for the smaller things in life – taking time to enjoy the moment. Mindfulness became a trending term as gratitude journal sales soared.
Meditation, quiet, yoga practice became daily rituals. And yes, women and men revisited their skincare regimes.
The Beauty of Slowing Down
French women knew the power of slowing down and being in the moment all along.
“It’s important to understand that for French women, the morning and evening skincare regime is a special time to slow down and to self-pamper,” explains Francois, a friend of mine who lives just outside of Paris. “Women take the time to work the products into their skin by gently massaging in upward movements. They will lock the bathroom door, maybe light a scented candle and will take the time to really enjoy their products. Fragrance is very important and they will take this time to slow down and self-care.” And spa treatments are a regular part of life. “Oh yes, visits for regular facials and treatments are considered essential for many, many women. Scented oils, hydrating creams and botanical serums help to create glowing skin.” She says that their makeup maybe minimal, but skincare is very important.
Jacques Courtin-Clarins’ skincare empire began in the spa tradition of France when in 1954 he opened his first Beauty Institute on Rue Tronchet in Paris. A talented masseur, he blended his own treatment oils and applied them using signature methods and motions. This direct contact with customers gave him invaluable insight in what products to create next.
From the beginning, Jacques encouraged his clients to take the time to enjoy their morning and evening skincare routines. This was a time to shut off the world and enjoy the fragrance, texture and feeling of the products. Taking deep breaths and slowly massaging products into your skin could help rejuvenate you and give you new energy.
Tip 1: Take Time for Yourself
The first French skincare secret is to set aside time for yourself morning and night to really enjoy your skincare products. Don’t race through it. Take the time to enjoy the fragrance. Really work the products into your skin. And breathe. This simple step can make a big difference in how you look and feel.
Tip 2: A New Way To Cleanse
Inspired by treatments used at Clarins skin spas, here’s a special cleansing routine that removes, lifts and eliminates all impurities without inflaming or irritating the skin. The key here is that it doesn’t irritate the skin in any way. Thanks to Dr. Olivier Courtin-Clarins for sharing this method.
1 Begin by warming the cleansing cream in the palm of your hand until it is at skin temperature.
2 Apply the cleanser with the entire surface of your hands by simply patting your hands on your face. Don’t apply any pressure on your face, simply place your hands flat on your face and neck.
3 Pull your hands away as quickly as possible. Repeat this gesture five or six times as the cleaning cream thickens. You will notice this creates a suction which pulls the makeup and impurities off without dislodging or irritating the tissue.
4 Rinse or wipe your face gently.
5 Finish by applying a toning lotion to remove the last residue of the cleansing cream. Applying a lotion is essential as it will rid your skin of the harmful effects of hard water.
Tip 3: How To Best Apply Eye Serums
If you have concerns around the eye area, you might want to incorporate Clarins’ techniques for applying eye serums. After warming the serum in your hands, gently press your fingers under your eyes to help drain any pressure and to gently apply the product. Repeat the gestures above the eyes. Finish by pressing between the eyebrows. This is a technique perfected in the Clarins Spas. Notice there is no rubbing or moving your finger back and forth – all this does is move the product away from where you really need it. Gentle pressing directs the product exactly where you need it.
Tip 4: Always Tighten The Caps On Your Jars & Tubes
Here’s a valuable skincare tip that you don’t read about often: Be sure to always tighten the cap and lid of your products to prevent humidity and air from reaching the formula. This can accelerate oxidation and shorten its lifespan. By tightening the cap, you’ll help your products last longer in peak condition.
Tip 5: How To Best Apply Day & Night Creams
French women understand the importance of hydration in keeping skin looking radiant and healthy. “Water is key to the health of our skin so even anti-aging products are moisture-based,” says Lair. “Our bodies are made of water and use it to communicate between cells – it’s linked to our biology.” She says to always apply products on damp skin to help lock in moisture.
Tip 6: Create A Colourful Plate
“Good nutrition is incredibly important to how our skin looks,” adds Lair. “Our bodies need the nutrients from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. When I travel around the world speaking with influencers and journalists, I recommend they create a colourful plate for their dinner. Incorporate many different coloured vegetables and fruits. The more colourful the better. This will ensure you get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.”
If you are looking for more healthy eating and nutrition tips to make your skin glow, you might want to read Olivier Courtin-Clarins’ “Beauty In My Plate”, available on the Clarins website: clarins.ca (All proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation).