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Bitch at Us: Matilde Thomas of Caudalie

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You’ve heard me say it before: I’m a Francophile. The food, the fashion, the language, the beauty—you can’t beat the French in these respects. We recently received our own little oasis of French beauty in Washington with the opening of the Caudalie spa and boutique in City Center.

I attended the opening party and sat own for an interview with Mathilde, the impossibly chic French woman who founded the luxury beauty line.

Caudalie is an independent, family-run beauty brand founded by Mathilde and her husband Thomas in 1995. I’ve tried, and enjoyed, products from Caudalie before, but I hadn’t realized that entire essence of the brand is built around wine. The beauty products are derived from the vines and grapes at the family’s Bordeaux vineyard. As someone who regularly touts the benefits of red wine and idolizes the French aesthetic, I can certainly get behind this beauty brand.

Here’s what the beauty mogul had to say about beauty, brunch, and business. Read on for her tips on how to fight aging with style, grace, and the right beauty products.

What’s the inspiration behind Caudalie?

The story began 20 years ago in Bordeaux at our family vineyard, where we learned about the benefits of red wine and polyphenols for the skin. For thousands of years, French women have turned to the vines and grapes for beauty benefits. It wasn’t long ago that women were covering their faces and hands with grapevine sap to reduce dark spots and illuminate the skin—the sap, known as Viniferine, is patented by Caudalie to target and reduce dark spots on the skin.

We began making skincare products from the biproducts of the grapes: it’s the essence of Caudalie then and still today.

Then, when I moved to America in 2010, I was struck by how different the French and American approaches to beauty. Americans seek a quick fix, whereas the French approach beauty as an essential and pleasurable part of the day, a lifelong, active investment that makes you feel good.

At Caudalie, we use natural products.

Our skincare line is also packaged with recycled plastic, and one percent of global sales are donated to ecological NGOs that work in the most threatened areas of the world.

You’ve built an amazing company and also have three beautiful children. How do you balance work-life commitments?

Your life needs to be balanced—your life can’t just be work or play. I try to juggle between your private life and work life. As I work with my husband, that can be a challenge.

We started the company 20 years ago, together—and maybe because the business is dong well—we are too. I don’t know. I create the product; he sells it as the CEO. It’s a good balance.

We have three children—13, 11, and 7. And my son started moisturizer this year. My daughters love makeup and sneak into my bathroom and steal everything they can.

My second tip is to take time for yourself—take the time to escape and go to the spa or get a massage. I will often escape and do a massage.

It’s a hectic life we’re living nowadays—women have crazy lives.

Mathilde Thomas Portrait

What are your top three beauty tips for women on the go?

Make it simple. Skincare should be easy as A, B, C, or don’t do it!

Choose a very simple routine. The first basic step is removing makeup at night. That’s very important. At Caudalie, we recommend the Micellar cleansing water—use it at night to remove makeup with water and a cleansing pad. The second thing is to wear an antioxidant moisturizer everyday with an SPF. The third thing would be to do a detox mask once a week.

Just three simple steps.

That’s great advice for skincare. What about your morning beauty and makeup routine?

I can survive with four products from Caudalie. The first is the Premier Cru, an all in one moisturizer

Then, I use our eye contour, to remove dark, saggy spots around the eyes, followed by our tinted moisturizer. Lastly, I use the bronzing powder

You’re between France and New York. Do you have a favorite place to brunch?

I do go out to brunch—but prefer to brunch at home with friends.

In New York my favorite place to brunch is Bubby’s, followed by Lauderee in SoHo. They opened this macaron salon in SoHo. It’s lovely. The cherry trees that are blossoming in the gardens in a few weeks, and that will be perfect for brunch.

So you like to entertain, what do you prepare when you’re hosting brunch?

When I entertain, I cook. I would do an omelet. I’d also buy some great French cheese, and some great meats from Parma. Of course, I’d get some bread from the best bakery from Kaiser. And I’d buy some great fruits and do some homemade pancakes. For dessert, I’d serve from Poulaine and some great tea from Laduree.

Caudalie DC 3 by Joy Asico

Who would you invite to brunch?

 It would have to be an American brunch. I would love to have brunch with the Obamas, of course, as a couple. They’re fascinating.

Out of the Hollywood celebrities, I would invite Meryl Streep. Oh, and Beyonce

I’d need someone from the fashion industry—I would also invite Anna Wintour.

Barack would be the only man!

What are you most proud of ?

My kids! Even if it’s not easy every day. Caudalie is also a great adventure.

Caudalie DC 6 by Joy Asico

What’s next for you and Caudalie?

I am going to continue creating products for our clients using cutting edge technology. We’re working on a new anti-aging moisturizer that launches this Fall. We want to treat the dark spots, to cover, to unify, to brighten, to lighten, and to protect – all in one step.

We’re so excited about your new CityCenter location. What can we expect from Caudalie here in DC?

There’s a spa! The spa offers the Premier Cru facial for the ultimate anti-aging experience, a Vinoperfect Radiance Facial to illuminate and correct uneven skin town, hydrating facials, and more.

You will be able to do a brightening treatment—a glow in 15 minutes. You can get ready for the summer with a scrub—Crushed Cabernet Body Scrub. A fantastic body massage with the Divine Oil. Then you can go home with professional products that will work well and help you bring the spa home.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received for life or business?

Focus. Don’t start something new when you haven’t finished the first thing you started.

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