Friday, 11 April 2014

Caudalie cleansers

Many of you will already know that I am not known for fastidiousness when it comes to The Evening Cleansing Routine! By evening, I am tired and usually feel that going to bed without washing my face is a crime I can live with. However, there is a solution, even for slobs like me: Caudalie Eau Micellaire Démaquillante (or Make-up Remover Cleansing Water). This has been my saving grace. It is free from nasties, removes make-up and city grime, and leaves my skin feeling clean and moisturized instead of tight, like some other brands. It also smells wonderful: like spring!

The cleansing water also has a partner in crime, Lotion Tonique Hydratante (or Moisturizing Toner) which I actually use every single day without fail. I have always been a toner girl and have tried absolutely loads of them over the years. This is the best one I have ever used, and it has been in my daily arsenal now for almost 10 years. For a product junkie like me, that is an endorsement of the highest order. It has the same fresh, clean smell, sort of a light grassy scent, and makes me happy each morning when I put it on and who wouldn't benefit from that first thing each morning?!

Both products are hypoallergenic, alcohol- and soap-free and leave the skin clean, moisturized and prepped for whatever you have in store for it. I love this line and the clever thinking behind it. Caudalie was founded by Mathilde Thomas and her husband Bertrand in 1993 when a professor, who was visiting their family vineyard, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, in Bordeaux, France, told them they were "throwing away treasures". By 1995, they had figured out how to extract and stabilize grape-seed Polyphenols and the brand was launched in local pharmacies, who stocked their very first face creams.

Caudalie products are now sold worldwide, and they have discovered (and patented) even more grape-related wonders as well as opening several spas and treatment boutiques. If you have a chance to sample their products, please do. They are usually very generous with their samples, have solid ethical credentials and there is a line for every stage of ageing: my mother and daughters are fans too!

[NB: The links in this post are for UK websites, but Naturisimo ships worldwide for free or you can purchase Caudalie products through Amazon and Sephora as well as Caudalie's own website.]

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Lost Lake

There is so much magic in the world if only we slowed down and opened our hearts enough to see it. We know all about it as children. We hear the truth behind the stories, see the real meaning of things, smell possibility on the wind… and then the grown-ups tell us none of it is real. They tell us so many times and with so much conviction that eventually we believe them and the magic starts to fade for us, too. I think that is terribly sad, which is no doubt why I love Sarah Addison Allen's writing so much. She hasn't lost the ability to open her heart and uses all her senses to keep tapping into the magic, and then she very generously shares it with us through her beautiful writing.

Her latest offering, Lost Lake, is no different. Do you ever wish you could go back to an enchanted time in your youth? If you could go back and then make all your decision with the beliefs you held then, can you imagine what your life would look like? I suspect your story would have a completely different ending! We don't think life works like that, but I think that's just because no one ever tells us it could. Heaven forbid that secret should get out...!

In the meantime, we can escape into Addison's charmed landscapes and hang out with her ever-appealing characters for awhile…and dream. Lost Lake is the tale of Eby Pim's life: the choices she makes, the lives she saves (literally and metaphorically), and the magical holiday camp she creates at Lost Lake with her beloved husband, George, all set the scene for a multitude of stories, stories of people who have lost sight of their dreams, but are inadvertently given a second chance when Eby decides to sell up. It is the story of how the life of just one person can change the lives of everyone they know.

As always, Addison has populated her Southern setting with beautifully drawn characters with rich imaginations. Her descriptions are so well-crafted that you can "see" everything unfolding right before your eyes. She describes places I want to go to and people I want to hang out with and there is always a sense of calm in her stories, like there is someone very capable at the helm who will make sure everyone makes it "home". She evokes worlds that we all remember from childhood and who's to say they're any less real than the ones we live in as adults? Certainly not me….

Regular readers will know that I have a predilection for a happy ending. Life can be hard; I like to finish a book on a high note, with a sense of hope, of possibility, and with a sense that, perhaps, if I simply believe, that my life, too, can contain a little more magic.