Haw-he-haw Beeyoutees! In the week that celebrated International Women’s Day,’Your Beauty Secrets’ is brought to you today by the forever youthful, ‘fabulously ageless’, Francesca Boschet-Michel; an international lawyer turned ‘trailing spouse’ who now runs her own French language business, Prêt à Parler.

Currently residing in the US, but moving back to the UK in the spring, 50 year old (I know, I can scarcely believe it either!) Francesca will be revealing details about her diet, lifestyle and most importantly, skincare routine; including those products she simply can’t live without. And, in the name of ‘intelligent ageing’, she’ll also be offering her own musings on what we might all wish to consider doing, in order to ‘age intelligently’…

FRANCESCA, WHAT’S YOUR DAILY SKINCARE ROUTINE?
Francesca BM 2.2I should start by admitting that my skin routine is never as rigorous or regular as the health and beauty gurus tell us it should be! I do cleanse and hydrate, but often only once a day. I take my makeup off and clean my skin with micellar water. I like it because it “does it all” and seems to be the thing that least irritates my skin. Favourite brands are BIODERMA Sensibio H2O Micellaire Solution and NUXE Micellar Cleansing Water with Rose Petals. These brands also sell handy 100ml bottles I can take in my hand luggage when I travel, which is a lot!
After cleaning my face, I will hydrate using separate products for eyes and face. I do also take care to moisturise my neck (I should have taken the same care with my hands – if you look at my face, I may not look 50, but my hands will easily add a decade!) For the last couple of years, I have started using a serum on my face and my eyes several times a week. Since I vowed to “age gracefully” and not resort to surgery or injections, I did invest in some rather pricey anti-ageing products from Trésor Rare (the Blue Sapphire Collection) – an alternative to the ubiquitous Botox, so prevalent here in Orange County! It was pretty fabulous and regular use really did seem to help with the sagginess around my eye lids and the furrows in my brows. That said, I am currently using a local vegan salon product range instead. I decided that since I go to great lengths not to put chemicals in my body, I felt it was time to treat my skin with the same respect…
I don’t like foundation and only use a tinted moisturiser with SPF on top of my day cream.
The first thing I now reach for after hydrating is BOOTS N07 Airbrush Away Colour Balancing Primer – gone is my “red panda” look caused by rosacea! I can even go out without putting on tinted moisturiser. I have to thank my savvy teenage daughter for this tip. I could never be bothered with primer before – now it’s a must have!
BOOTS N07 City Light Tinted Moisturiser is my new favourite after several years of pricey BB and CC creams from more up market labels! I have also started to apply it with a brush (thanks, savvy teen) and am a convert. Some days I also wear some mascara – BENEFIT tinted primer. Since I moved to California, my brows lightened a lot because of the sun. I don’t have the dedication to do a lot of eyebrow work and have been saved by Gimme Brow by BENEFIT a sort of mascara for the eyebrows. I will generally only wear more slap if I have to look particularly corporate or glam. Then I use Bobbi Brown. I am taking make-up lessons from the savvy teen who seems to have learnt everything from YouTube.

HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU STARTED TO LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN?
Young! From the age of 11 I had quite oily skin with open pores, blackheads and break-outs (such a nice word. When I was growing up we were stuck with hideous terms such as “spots” or “zits”). My skin issues made me miserable for years (especially since my bestie had a bloody perfect complexion!) I spent a small fortune of my hard-earned Saturday job’s money on all manner of cleansers, cover-ups, creams and scrubs (to no avail). With my own teenage daughters I am very open to doing whatever we can to help them overcome the same issues –good products and regular salon facials to keep their skin really clean. Expensive, but worth it because I know only too well how having bad skin can affect your self-esteem.

WHAT PRODUCTS COULDN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
Tinted moisturiser with a decent SPF.

DO YOU HAVE AN EXERCISE ROUTINE?
I do try and keep active – the one constant is the daily dog walk with my golden doodle, Maggie. We have moved around quite a bit and the exercise I do depends on where I am living and my work routine. For the last 3 years I was living in Copenhagen. I cycled a lot, walked and used public transport all the time. I also found I had to develop a strict regime doing core work at the gym to fight off the middle aged spread (and if you don’t keep it up, it all comes creeping back!) We just moved back to Southern California and I am doing a lot of yoga again. For me the yoga is key to ageing well. It irons out all the creases, helps build strength and leaves me feeling uplifted.

DO YOU CONSIDER THAT YOU HAVE A WELL BALANCED DIET AND IF SO, WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE?
My diet is probably better than my skin care regime! I am a foodie, always have been and marrying a Frenchman literally fed that innate interest. I love to cook and I love to eat – not so good on portion control! I have travelled a lot and lived in several countries so my diet adapts as I change country. The constant is a LOT of vegetables and freshly made food, particularly soup! I make soup at least once a week, regardless of the season and what’s in the fridge. I am pretty much a vegetarian and I am really interested in the health and healing properties of food and spices. I firmly believe that you are what you eat. I start every day with freshly squeezed lemon in a glass of warm water (it helps keep me “regular”). I have cut down on my intake of regular tea to one massive mug in the morning. After that, it’s strictly herbal. I drink a lot of water and don’t like fizzy drinks unless it is sparkling water. My weaknesses are red wine and chocolate.

DO YOU TAKE ANY SUPPLEMENTS AND IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY?
I have just started taking a Vitamin D3 supplement because a recent visit to the doctor identified a deficiency. Otherwise I try and ensure that the vitamins come in the food I eat.

TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR YOUTHFUL LOOKS?
First off, I am proud to be a middle aged woman who looks good (I refuse to say “good for her age”). Whilst I love beauty products, I abhor the dictatorship of the industry that peddles the message that a flawless face is the only beautiful face. Francesca BM 3.1I don’t want to look like I did when I was 17 – that is for my daughters. That doesn’t mean letting myself go; it means getting a sharp haircut, updating my wardrobe – trying to look hip, but not like mutton dressed up as lamb, as my mother would say! Dressing or making up “too young” actually ages you.
On the physical side – I think genes, lifestyle and diet contribute as much as any product. I think the greasy teenage complexion and the fact that I gave up smoking early on has helped preserve my skin, together with the SPF in the moisturiser these last 15 years. If I had exercised more and partied less as a younger woman, I’d probably “look better”, but I wouldn’t have those memories that put the glint in my eye and the smile on my face.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR ‘INTELLIGENT AGEING’?
BE OPEN, AND ADAPT. According to Darwin, it is those who adapt the fastest to change who survive. I have travelled extensively for work and pleasure. I have lived in the UK, France, Denmark and the US and I have taken things I like from each country’s culture and cuisine and I think that has helped – variety is the spice of life!
EMBRACE those few extra pounds that seem to be inevitable as we grow older. We were brought up in a culture to be thin, but being a little plumper does actually make us look younger, less drawn. The race to stay as you are (let alone lose weight!) necessarily means eating less and exercising more – but what’s the point in looking great if you feel miserable trying to achieve it?!
HYDRATE (drink lots of water and moisturise often). STAY AWAY from processed food – it doesn’t taste nearly as good as the fresh stuff. Yoga really will help you stay young, mentally and physically. Oh, and get a dog – best exercise companion and best remedy to any kind of blues – a dog will ALWAYS light up your day!

Francesca, thanks for sharing ‘Your Beauty Secrets’ with Zodleblog… x

🙂