Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On Skincare, the Scrounging b, How I Love Thee, Caudalie

I have never been on any kind of substantial quest for the "perfect" skincare regimen. It seems so daunting, the process of such a quest. And with my skin evolving, its needs literally changing with the wind, I end up settling on something decent to be over with the whole ordeal altogether (until that nagging dissatisfaction arises and it always does). This is not to say that I disregard skincare in the least, however. I've always been keen on some kind of regimen, if only to wash and moisturize with something.

Throughout my early 20s, I contentedly used my 3-step Clinique skincare products, washing my face each morning and evening with that yellowy bar soap in the nifty green travel dome container. That being followed by the clarifying lotion in the purple bottle with the big silver C on it, and finishing with the square yellow jar of "dramatically different moisturizing lotion." Skin type 2 (combination skin) was the entire basis of this process and it did me just fine, then. Of course, I am no longer 20 and neither is my skin. But age is only a part of it. I half liken it to buying good jeans. Once you spend over $150 on a pair of good jeans, it is difficult to go back. You know what you've discovered and you feel firm in the conviction that you deserve, somehow and someway, those jeans. And such is skincare.

I can't quite identify the exact product that transitioned me out of my girly-girl Cliniqe days and into the vast realm of mature (pronunciation is key here... ma-tour) skincare. Approaching the Clinique counter at Nordstrom, I would walk past the Lancôme and Estée Lauder counters, wondering if I would ever possibly be old enough to use their products. At age 20, the thought of even possessing Lancôme mascara seemed beyond me. But remember, I grew up in the burbs.

Something tells me that I started accumulating samples here and there and gave them a shot, growing bored with the Clinique stuff. My sister E has always been influential where skincare and beauty products are concerned. She is almost entirely responsible for my eternal love of Jack Daniels and Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist perfume. Yes, she's a very good sister! Along with hearing fellow women discuss their favorite skincare products, samples are where it really starts... that exciting feeling that this product could be magical.

A few years ago I used a lot of Jurlique products, as well as Yonka. Both work alright but I'm not feeling the magic. Maybe I'm bored. So, when my tube of Jurlique day care cream dried up, I found myself fighting off the inevitable- finding something new. I delayed this process as long as I could, digging up samples tucked in odd places around my studio apartment, squeezing the bejeezus out of them for all they had. Two of the sample packets I had unveiled were Caudalie. One was an eye serum and the other a moisturizer. I felt a twinge of magic, people. But I was hesitant. I've been down this road many times... only to buy the full tube and a week later, feel deceived. These samples were quite small and thus, it only took two days for them to dry up and with them, my expectations. So, I held off committing to a full tube of moisturizer and when I ran out of any and all samples at hand, I returned to the Jurlique tube and kept squeezing and squeezing, trying to make it through one more day, to prolong any decisions.

I know that with most skincare products, you can exchange them for something else if you are dissatisfied. But that option opens some kind of Pandora's box and most definitely puts me back on some kind of quest I don't want to be on, a seemingly endless one. The thought of such thus resigns me to stick it out with the product in hand. I figure that if it somehow wooed and suckered me in, I must give in to the end of the bottle. Besides, I really am convinced I will just go through this again and again.

Oh, how I hope Caudalie proves me wrong on this account! Really though, so far, Caudalie is proving more and more magical over time. However, there's more to this story. This is where the scrounging b emerges... a monster I didn't know lived inside of me. So convinced of the Caudalie magic, I went into the mall. I wasn't sure exactly which moisturizer I had sampled. I had saved the empty packet for quite some time but had likely thrown it away while cleaning. I went into Bath & Body Works, as they were the kind party to have sent me the initial samples with my online body lotion order, and scanned the wide collection of Caudalie products on the shelves.

A very nice girl approached me and I explained my dilemma- that I had sampled one of the moisturizers and I liked it but had no idea which one it was. There were so many choices before me and I knew that as right as one of them was for me, there would be others that were NOT right. I didn't want to just give one a shot and return it later if it didn't work. The sales assistant was so patient and tried explaining each one, although she admitted to not knowing much about Caudalie. I tried to explain what the little sample packet looked like, thinking that might help determine which one it was, and strained myself trying to recall what color the lettering was. But all of this was far from helping her. She looked in the drawers and there were no samples to compare. However, she was beyond helpful and said she'd go to the back room and do some digging, even after I reiterated that it wasn't necessary.

When she finally emerged from the back room, she had a set of samples with her.
These were clearly not the samples I had previously tried, as the packaging was different. She kindly offered the set of samples and I took them, honestly not that thrilled to be returning home with more samples! The set was the Vinoperfect line, consisting of the Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Cream, the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum and Vinoperfect Night Correcting Cream. I was absolutely sold after just the first day. I knew it was more than the initial attraction I had so often felt with other skincare products. The serum is amazing and really does revitalize skin. The day cream is not too heavy but definitely moisturizes. And the night cream, while heavier, doesn't clog my pores or give me the overly greasy feel that many night creams do. My pathetic descriptions do nothing to capture how much I love this line of Caudalie's.

But I could not bring myself to buy just the day cream. The serum and night cream were essential to this skincare bliss. However, with Paris on the horizon and trying to save for that trip, I convinced myself to be satisfied with just the day cream for now. Yet, somehow, when I entered the store again, the monster emerged from within. A different sales associate approached me and I played dumb, going through the whole conversation I had with the previous associate days earlier, citing that I couldn't remember which line I used and liked. She kept assuring me that I could return anything that I wasn't satisfied with. But she offered no samples. I HAD to have those samples and I knew they were back there. I finally asked for them flat out. She said there were none. I was calling her a liar with my eyes and kept on nudging, hoping to break her will. It didn't work. All of this near-groveling for some samples!

Even amidst the conversation with the saleswoman, I totally realized what was going on. It so reminded me of that scene in Friends with Money, where Jennifer Aniston's character goes into the department store and tells the salesperson that she saw this ad for moisturizer and wanted to try it out. She gets a sample and proceeds to the next department store, where she approaches the product counter, repeating the same schpeel and getting greedy, she cites that she needs one for her friend as well. The salesman is highly skeptical.

Yep, that was me. I was scrounging for samples. I realized that the moisturizer was out of my jean bracket slightly and how precarious that is, to step into a new price bracket for moisturizer. So, scrounging for samples became my solution? I assure you, it was scrounging! It would be one thing if I were a deal shopper but I am far from such. I will pay twice the price of something I know will go on sale in two days, just because that's what I do. Yet, for Caudalie, I found myself scheming about how I could go to various Caudalie counters in various Nordstrom stores, Bath & Body Works, maybe even Sephora... and build a little arsenal of Caudalie samples at home. This was a side of me I had never uncovered and Caudalie brought it out in me. I am thinking I must be onto something good here, skincare wise. Not so much personality-wise!

So, the saleswoman crushed my dream of permanently living off Caudalie samples. I broke down and bought the $68 Day Perfecting Cream, giving up any and all hopes of more Caudalie samples. I know I'll cave in and get the serum next. I am happy to have discovered Caudalie, however. Maybe all those samples are behind me for now. I so hope the magic doesn't wear off. Although I find myself in a new skincare product spending bracket, I'll manage somehow. We always do, don't we? And thus, the scrounging b goes back into hiding.

P.S. The Caudalie story is a great one, the base of their products being grape-seeds of vineyard grapes in France:

30 comments:

La Belette Rouge said...

Love this story and the image of you so loving a skin care product that you turned into Jennifer Anniston is delightful. With or without the Caudalie you are prettier then Jenn. But, please, do not use the cream as a body cream---if you do we will know you are about to meet and marry a highly eccentric millionaire.
As one who has been on the grail quest for perfect skin care, I know how the hunt can turn you into someone you didn't know you were. The first time I went to the Darphin counter I realized I needed to be a person who spent over $1000 on her skincare regimen. Fortunately that realization diminished as I did not have the funds to support my fantasy.

Dr.Bethenais- Languedoc's Lady Doc said...

b-
love your story on skincare quest,oddly enough just today ,I,too made a new choice from 30 yrs using Erno Lazlo,rather too pricey for the falling US dollar- to Bioderma,an ultra sensitive natural french line,loving it!!!Did try Caudalie,like its grape base,but,I have frightenly sensitive skin-alas, not a match for moi unless I wanted to look the part of a strawberry!
Also thought of you yesterday when I wrote about WimWender's film Wings of Desire,1987 Cannes film award winner with a fab poem !
thank you so much for your comments-you truly made my day!!!
joy
bethenais
dancingdocdesign

Richard said...

While I cannot empathise, I at least have some idea of what is going on. Sofia has a myriad of creams for, it seems, every part of her body. I don't understand it and I think it is a waste of money.

I don't deny that some creams are better than others, but I certainly have not been impressed by any exotic creams Sofia has gotten me to try. In fact, I have always found them inferior to the creams I use: Vaseline Intensive Care or Glaxal Base.

I apply cream more or less daily to my face (depends if I have shaved) because shaving leaves my skin exceedingly dry (one more reason for me to prefer being bearded), but it only goes on the areas where I shave. There is none on my nose, eyelids, under the eyes, forehead, elbows, knees, etc (unless they are dry).

Zen Chef said...

Somehow i feel like i don't belong in this skincare discussion but since i enjoy your presence so much B, i will just sit right here and hang out. Maybe i'll just watch you get all pampered and pretty. Sexeey! hehe :-)

b said...

LBR... Well, you encouraged me to post this, so merci! Yeah, when I reach the point where I'm slathering Caudalie face cream all over my feet, please intervene!! Or yes, point out any highly eccentric millionaires that might be lurking in the shadows. :) Yeah, the hunt does bring out a peculiar side in us, doesn't it? I fear that I'm at the age in which the hunt is become all too real and necessary! God, still though, nothing like Darphin. And truly, I really don't ever want to spend $1000 on a skincare regimen.

b said...

Dr.B... Yes, no one wants to look the part of a strawberry!! There really is no one miracle product that will suit all skin types. That's why this quest is such an individual one.... and often, an agonizing one. And what works at one point in time doesn't work at another. I'm also so aware that spending more doesn't necessarily mean anything, either. I'm happy that you like Bioderma. Hmm... maybe I'll try to find a sample sometime! :)

You're so very sweet to think of me. You truly make my day!!!! I love that post and am looking forward to watching Wings of Desire. That poem is lovely. Poetry is really speaking to me right now.

Thanks as always for being such a bright spot in my day! So glad to have you "back."

b said...

Richard... Hey, I'm just thrilled that you were willing to leave any comment! I think that much of skincare (and well, any consumer product) is wasted money. I say, use what works best for you.

Ah, how I wish I were a guy sometimes. I know, I know... I don't have to put myself through this but I do like it! :)

b said...

Zen... As with Richard, I'm just so appreciative that you would comment at all! Awwww.... you are way too sweet. I promise you won't have to hang out in girly land too long!!! :)

Richard said...

I certainly think women spend too much time grooming, but, believe it or not, so do a lot of guys. I remember one fellow I worked with, he used to spend a lot of time standing in front of a mirror and fixing his hair (he had long rocker type hair). Guys put grease in their hair or gel. They dress in certain ways. They posture certain ways. I see little differenc ein the way males and females behave. I find it all strange. On the other hand, as Sofia tells me, I am not the model of a typical person.

As for commenting ... hmmm, it is always hard to say what will inspire me to leave a comment. I leave a comment because I want to, not because I am being polite.

Cavalock said...

wow...that sure is a long article on skincare. ^^;

b said...

Richard... yeah, we do spend a lot of time grooming. I used to dread this time in the morning, but I have now come to appreciate this time. There is a comforting routine to it all and these days, standing before the sink and drying my hair and applying makeup seems to arouse some of my most creative thoughts. As a writer, my mind is always writing and this time is really appreciated.

And definitely, some guys do spend more time getting ready than women I know. To each his/her own, I say.

Oh, and believe me, I know you don't just comment to be polite! ;-)

b said...

Hi Cavalock! Haha... it is a long post on skincare, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by and as always, I hope you are doing well!

Function of Time said...

I remember watching that movie "friends with money". I cringed most of the time with Aniston's character. However, I've been known to get the samples.

b said...

Function of Time... I definitely cringed with Aniston's character, too! In fact, all the characters in that movie seemed rather cringe-worthy, didn't they?

F.O.T. said...

Now that I think about it, yes. All of those characters I wanted to strangle at one point.

Cassoulet Cafe said...

B, I absolutely loved reading this! I can totally relate, though it is usually with foundation samples, as I don't want to commit until I've used it for two weeks. Somehow, the magic definitely disappears at this point. Unless it's good stuff!
I'm switching to Phytomer right now, waiting for my shipment to come in ;)

Jacqui said...

Have you looked into or tried New Vitality, a skin cream used only at night with the highest over the counter percentages of certain anitoxidents and retinol etc. It's made by a dermatologist of course but the premise is interesting. You use it only at night and don't use moisturizer. In doing so, it allows your own skin to produce the collagen etc it needs. Also this doctor says that using moisturizer becomes addictive,i.e. you have to use it for your skin to "look" good whereas if you use this type of cream, it works on your skin to reproduce the collagen it needs. Also gives the appearance of clear clean skin. As someone who has spent thousands of dollars both here in the states and in France on skin regimens, I was intrigued by both your Caudalie experience and the documentation I received on New Vitality. Curious to know if you've come across it.

b said...

F.O.T.... yes, no kidding, huh? It was like consumer/appearances/Los Angeles purgatory to me!

Cassoulet Cafe... Oh, foundation is my next daunting makeup/skincare pursuit. I think I'm done with the Trish McEvoy stuff I have. It's just alright but here we go again.. knowing that there is better out there. Foundation samples seem harder to procure. I've used some Phytomer skincare stuff before and I think I was pleased with it. They use some of that stuff on my face for facials. I didn't realize they had a makeup/foundation line. Interesting. I'll have to find me a sample! ;-) Thanks for mentioning that. Hope your shipment comes in soon!

F.O.T. said...

speaking of foundation, I love Aveda. It works so well with my face.

b said...

Jacqui... thanks for stopping by my blog. No, I've not heard of or tried New Vitality but I am absolutely intrigued by your description here. Wow. Now that is skincare that is actually doing something beneficial... initiating natural collagen production. I will definitely look into this product, thank you! I'm assuming you haven't tried it yet? I would say it is well worth trying. If/when you do, let me know what you think!

b said...

F.O.T... I don't think I've tried Aveda skincare products. I go to an Aveda hair salon and use several Aveda haircare products, all of which I really like. Have you used it long? Isn't it great to find something that works for you?

F.O.T. said...

I've used it for 3 years. It's a pressed dual powder and it light but yet covers nicely. If you are interested:

http://www.aveda.com/templates/products2/spp.tmpl?CATEGORY_ID=CATEGORY10577&PRODUCT_ID=PROD7238

I also like their tinted lip gloss.

b said...

F.O.T... you are so reading my mind. How do you do that? :) The last few days I've been really thinking about trying some kind of mineral makeup but not sure where to start. I like the look of this powder/foundation. Thank you, I'm definitely going to try it this weekend. Ooo.. and tinted lip gloss? Love it! Need it!

Jacqui said...

As a follow up to my earlier posting and as a reminder that le 3ieme age is not far away, the company is called New Vitality but the skin cream is called "Night Cream". It's created by Dr. Perry. It's called Night Cream because as I said, it is used only at night etc. Sorry for the confusion. That's what happens if I stay at the office too long!

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Sorry, I was confusing with my comment. I am switching to Phytomer, to give it a good try, but I said that right after I mentioned foundation, lol, which Phytomer does not carry.
I am excited to try the Phytomer, cuz they are some free samples...YAY!
(I think Estee Lauder is giving away a 10 day sample of the new Double Wear light, which my aesthetician highly recommended. I'm on my way to Macy's to check it out!!)

b said...

Jacqui... Haha. No, I just wanted to clarify as I was searching for it online. But yes, I know what staying at the office for too long can do to a person! :) Thanks again for the tip!

Cassoulet Cafe... Okay, that makes sense now! I now have foundation on the brain, can't you tell? :) Oh, does it ever end?! Let me know how you like the Double Wear Light! Yay for samples!

carra said...

I don't own a cream, or a lotion, or potion. I have one product for my hands, because they're hyper sensitive, but that's it. Should I cry about my femininity hiding somewhere?

Jacqui said...

You can find "Night Skin" (Dr. Perry) at New Vitality.com

b said...

Carra... Haha. No, you should not cry about your hidden femininity! It is great that you don't need a moisturizer. I miss those days. :(

b said...

Jacqui.. Thanks for the link! :)