Next week I’m headed to New Orleans for my oldest sister’s 80th birthday. Yes, 80th. It’s hard for me to believe I have a sister that age, since I’m still such a “youngster” myself (ha!). But she’s so young looking and acting, that I have hopes I’ll follow suit, since our genetics are directly connected. Our mother looked and behaved just as vibrant, even up until she died just a few years ago, two months shy of her 98th birthday — further confirming that good genes are with us.
When I was a teenager, complaining about my oily skin, my mother would cajole me by saying, “You’ll be thanking me for that oily skin when you’re my age,” inferring that it would result in fewer wrinkles. She barely had any, even at 97 years old. My sister who celebrates her 80th at the end of the month has the same great skin, who also suffered from excessive oiliness and a bit of acne as a kid.
One thing I’ve notice since living in France are the lines in French women’s faces, much more than the average American’s. And the construct of the lines are different, too. It has puzzled me over the years why that is — why Americans tend to have much better skin (teeth, hair, and nails, too) than their French counterparts. In fact, one way to spot an American immediately is just that they seem to have taken better care of themselves than the average French person. Their teeth are straighter and whiter (often exaggeratedly whiter!), their skin is clearer, less wrinkled, their hair cleaner and better coiffed, their nails manicured and well-tended. This goes for the men, as well as the women.
I don’t believe there is prejudice in what I say and it’s not a criticism, just an observation. The formation of the lines in a French person’s face are quite different, too, which I believe is thanks to the language and other cultural reasons. Speaking French tends to force your mouth forward, creating little lines around the mouth and downward leaning lines, while English uses muscles that go upward, creating uplifting lines, especially around the eyes. And while Americans smile from birth (we’re taught to do that, right?) and continue smiling even when we’re not happy (have you noticed?), it contributes to the vast difference in our overall expression.
Smoking is definitely one cause of lines around the mouth, as well as contributing to bad skin. The French smoke quite a bit more than their U.S. counterparts (see ourworldindata.org/smoking for more about our smoking habits). And considering that France is the capital of parapharmaceutical products devoted to taking care of oneself, it has puzzled me even further why they don’t out-perform anyone else in the world when it comes to beautiful skin, hair, teeth and nails. Products that cost a fortune if purchased in the U.S. are sold for a song here in France and readily available at every single pharmacy, of which there are an abundance, what seems like on every corner.
Beauty mogul, Helena Rubinstein, was the first to introduce science into the world of beauty with her “Crème Valaze,” a formula she claimed to have been discovered by the brothers Lykusky who had supplied her with it for personal use ever since she was a little girl. In her advertising, she credited the cream for her own flawless complexion. She was a Polish-American businesswoman, art collector, and philanthropist, but mostly known as a cosmetics entrepreneur, which made her one of the world’s richest women, if not one of the most beautiful.
I’m personally rather addicted to something very different for my face — “Biafine,” “a water-based emulsion formulated for the dressing and management of superficial wounds, minor abrasions, dermal ulcers, donor sites, 1st and 2nd degree burns, including sunburns, and radiation dermatitis.” (Source: drugs.com/) I discovered its miraculous powers quite on my own. While it’s not designed for your face like Crème Valaze, I can tell you first hand that it’s the best thing I’ve ever used for an immediate and ongoing reduction of wrinkles! In fact, someone yesterday at Après Midi commented that I looked even younger than the last time she’d seen me, and I thanked her, but failed to attribute it to Biafine. The even better part is that it costs about 5€ – 7€ a tube here in France at any pharmacy. I’ve seen it sold in the U.S. for as much as $76 at byrdie.com/. (Tip: Bring it as gifts to all your friends and family in the States — better than just about anything else and they’ll be forever indebted to you.)
Next time you’re out and about in France, just take notice and see if what I say is true. And if you can explain it better, I’m all ears!
Don’t miss the current exhibit devoted to Helena Rubenstein’s life, art collection and accomplishments, at MAHJ (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme), on until August 25th.
And for a GREAT 24-hour pharmacy with the best array of parapharmaceutical products at the lowest prices, shop at Pharmacie de la Place de la République, 5 Place de la République, 75003 Paris.
A la prochaine…
(with sister Lee)
P.S. We had a roaring attendance yesterday at Après Midi to hear what Timothy Jay Smith had to say about his new book, The Fourth Courier. Read all about it and see photos by visiting Après Midi