The French Woman's Answer To Coconut Oil

leonor-greyl-huile-secret-de-beaute-embed_vPhoto courtesy of Leonor Greyl
Certain beauty products — think NARS blush in Orgasm, Clinique's Black Honey lipstick — are so good, they're practically famous. And, while we do love so many of those standouts with a loyal following, we've been wondering why others quietly fly under the radar. With that in mind, we've launched Cult Classics, a series in which we'll introduce you to the products you should really, truly know about (and try, like, right now). They're not brand new, but they definitely have staying power.
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In theory, coconut oil is pretty great: It's all-natural, super hydrating, and incredibly affordable. It's also all the rage — beauty junkies all over have been using it as a makeup remover, a moisturizer, a conditioner, and a body lotion, among countless other things.
But, there's a catch: It takes forever to sink in, leaving your limbs glossy and wet for what seems like forever. Meaning you can't put your clothes on without looking like a sweaty mess and immediately needing to send them to the dry cleaner. This begs the question: Is there something that has the moisture content of coconut oil, is similarly natural, but works more efficiently?
Caroline Greyl, the CEO of cult beauty brand Leonor Greyl, knows a thing or two about oils. In fact, her beloved Huile de Palme is a product that already has a cult following. "Whenever my family went on holiday, my mother and I would pack a special oil that Dad produced just for us. He said it would protect the skin. I remember it smelled so good and worked such wonders on my young skin that my tan lasted long into the autumn."
At the height of the beauty industry's oil craze, Caroline decided it was the right time to finally release her family's secret recipe. "Under the watchful eye of my father, we reformulated the recipe, but made it easier for women-on-the-go," she said.
The result? Not one, but three powerhouse oils: Amazonian buriti, which is rich in carotene and prevents free radical damage; pomegranate seed, which improves elasticity and promotes regeneration; and mongongo, which hails from an African tree in the Kalahari Desert and is known for its intense hydration benefits. "We chose oils that are 98% natural and don't contain any preservatives," Caroline explains.
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But, the most important part, of course, was the fragrance — a fresh-from-the-beach-on-the-Côte d'Azur-scent, rich with yucca and jasmine. Forget perfume, because this product speaks for itself.
Almost as soon as Huile Secret de Beauté was released, it earned cult status among those in the know. (Perhaps, in part, because Kate Upton's a big fan.) Matin Maulawizada found it essential for the body makeup he did on the cover of the most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. "I love it because it hydrates and protects, but it also imparts a glow that really can't be replicated by other oils. If a product is too heavy or slippery, it doesn't create that same luminosity." And, because it moisturizes instead of laying flat on the skin, you can layer makeup on top without a sliding or caking phenomenon. "That's why I like to use it on the body and the face," he says.
Lupita Nyong'o's main makeup man, Nick Barose, does one better: "I mix it with a little bit of shimmer powder and use it as a highlight on the arms, shoulders, and the legs. Plus, I love that it smells so good," he says.
And, thanks to the fine veil of product that comes out from the super-effective atomizer, you can either spritz it on damp hair to tame frizz, or remove the nozzle to get a few drops on your palms, then rake it through your lengths for added brilliance and UV protection. You could also add a couple of drops to your conditioner for an express hair mask.
However you wear it, we can assure you of one thing above all: If you do exchange your self-righteous, good-for-the-Earth addiction to coconut oil for this expensive, well-dressed alternative, it will become your chicest guilty pleasure ever.
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Leonor Greyl Huile Secret de Beauté, $66, available at Leonor Greyl.
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