Parlez-vous français? I definitely don't. But I am fluent in the world of French beauty; in fact, you might even say it's my native tongue. My very first memories involving skin care are vivid ones, only-slightly-fuzzy recollections of watching my mother work aromatic oils from French brands like Darphin and Decléor into her skin before bed every night. I, too, wanted to apply those luxurious elixirs, to inhale those heady, grown-up scents of orange blossom and jasmine. The answer was always no. And why? "Because," she would say, without looking away from the gold-trimmed vanity mirror. "It's very expensive. It's French."
I didn't get it then, but I do now. I hide my Christophe Robin from my boyfriend because "that shampoo is $40, don't use too much" means nothing to him. But in the case of the moisturizer I've been hooked on for the past few months, I can afford to be generous. Ripped straight from the pages of French-pharmacy lore, Bioderma's Sensibio Light moisturizer is both very chic and surprisingly budget-friendly, a soft, silky cream in a travel-friendly tube that's the perfect synthesis of clinical and luxe. It smells like nothing and feels like contentment, and it's under $20 and I love it.
Would I still find this reliable, straightforward skin-soother as attractive if it was manufactured in Springfield, Illinois, instead of at Laboratoire Dermatologique in Aix-en-Provence? Probably not, no. But as it stands, it's the only moisturizer I've ever used that gives me the perfect amount of hydration without feeling oily or heavy, undoes some of the damage of my ill-advised overexfoliation habit, and works just as well under makeup as it does slathered on with abandon for maximum moisture at night. The fact that pulling it out of my bag might make someone assume I've just returned from a quick voyage to the City of Lights is just a bonus. I've never even been to France.
Bioderma Sensibio Light Soothing Cream, $19.90, available at Ricky's NYC.