Caudalie founder, Mathilde Thomas, on French girl beauty, skincare misconceptions, and working with her husband

Caudalie founder, Mathilde Thomas, on French girl beauty, skincare misconceptions, and working with her husband

Drink up

Text: Emily Heng

What makes an institution? Loosely defined, it is referred to as a figure or custom well-established; a person or business whose reputation precedes themselves. If that's the barometer we're going by, there's no doubt that it is one French skincare label, Caudalie, meets. Established in 1995 by Mathilde Thomas, the brand has since launched countless of cult creations; opened many a boutique spa; and cemented itself as the go-to label for celebrities and skincare savants alike looking for simple, efficacious, and natural formulas. Stellar standing, indeed — and one they intend to upkeep.

2020 marks the 15th anniversary of the fan-favourite Vinoperfect Radiance Serum; an event commeorated with a re-packaging of the product. And pray tell, what else is on the cards? We sit down with Thomas herself to get her to dish the dirt.

What was the first-ever skincare product you used?
When I was little, I used to look at my mum while she was applying her skincare and makeup so I tend to follow her lead. Her beauty advice was to keep your skincare routine simple but consistent. Essential products are: a good moisturiser, a Talika product to improve lash growth, an eyelash curler to use before applying mascara, a natural gloss and products to achieve glossy hair.

She also taught me how remarkable antioxidants can be for the skin and stressed the importance of protecting your skin from sun damag. Her advice is also to maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle! Up till today, I still follow this advice in my daily life because... well, it works!

Tell us about your relationship with your skin.
The key thing for me is keeping it simple, with an emphasis on the best skincare rather than makeup. In the morning, I double-cleanse my skin by combining the Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil with the Caudalie Fleur De Vigne Instant Foaming Cleanser. Right after, I love to spray my Caudalie Beauty Elixir before using my Caudalie Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence, followed by a serum depending on the season, which can either be hydrating, brightening or firming. Right now, I am also loving my Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum Complexion Correcting. For my eyes, I use Caudalie Premier Cru The Eye Cream as it specifically targets dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles so eyes look perfectly filtered, soft, smooth, and bright, instantly.

Now, for the daytime, Caudalie's Premier Cru The Cream is the perfect three-in-one product to hydrate, brighten, firm, and smooth my skin, all in one step. At night, I would remove my makeup and cleanse my skin by blending my products. Before I head to bed, I will apply the Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Night Infusion Cream that works overnight — while the skin's regeneration potential is at its peak — to visibly redefine facial contours along the cheekbones and jawline.

Did you always know that you wanted to work in the beauty sector?
I was passionate about fragrance and always knew I wanted to work with perfumers. When I was younger, I would guess the fragrance of every single one of my mother's friends — their faces would redden as they asked "Did I apply too much on?". The answer was no — I just had a great sense when it came to fragrance! I didn't know which beauty sector I wanted to pursue professionally, but I knew from a young age that I had a passion for fragrance, texture and natural skincare.

Growing up in Grenoble, my grandmother taught me recipes revolving around natural ingredients and the importance of antioxidant-rich skincare. Professionally, I started out with an internship at French perfumer, Cacharel, when I was about 15. It was amazing to work with such likeminded people, and today, when I create products for Caudalie, the scent remains an extremely important element.

I hear you work with your husband. How is that like?
We are extremely complementary; we don't see things the same way and it's very interesting. I would not say that it's easy every day, but I would say that we complement each other well that we make things happened. One of us is the right brain and the other is the left. I can also say that 1+ 1 is more than 2. I'm all about product and development and research while he has an eye for execution, organization and logistics.

What is one skincare product or step you wish people did more of?
Always remember to cleanse morning and night and do not forget to remove your make up thoroughly each night. Even if you are very tired, opt for a fast & easy cleanser such as the Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water. Also, it is important to protect your skin from harmful sun rays with SPF. One can opt for Caudalie Anti-Wrinkle Face Suncare — a highly natural and effective daily protection from the sun that will help prevent wrinkles and fight antioxidants. It also offers the skin maximum UVA/UVB protection for a natural, radiant, long-lasting tan, while preserving its youthful look.

What is a skincare misconception that you'd really like to address?
A lot of women tend to forget some key beauty basics. My main advices would be:

  • Never go to bed without removing your make up
  • Wear an anti-oxidant moisturizer day and night
  • Always wear SPF
  • Eat healthy
  • Drink lots of water/tisanes and don't forget to treat yourself to a glass of red wine for dinner as it is good for the skin and prevents ageing of skin in the long run.

Do you feel that there is a difference between how Asian consumers and French or American consumers regard skincare?
French women choose their skincare products carefully. They are really demanding and challenging when it comes to skincare composition and ingredients. They want, of course, visible results but also very glamourous formulas, natural textures, innovative and outstanding products. Effective, glamorous and natural, like Caudalie! But the French beauty routine is quite short actually: most of the time, it comprises of a two-step routine, a makeup remover and a daily moisturizing cream. However, Asians have a much longer daily beauty routine and can apply up to 8 layers of skincare every day!

American women, on the other hand, are after a quick fix and instant gratification. Asian women are all about taking the time to pamper their skin while focusing on layering. What we learn from Asian women is to take even more care of our skin, while the American women motto seems to be 'little makeup does the trick'.

Which celebrity or beauty icon — dead or alive — you think would be a perfect global ambassador for Caudalie?
The French actress, Brigitte Bardot. She has the ultimate beauty, perfect skin, gorgeous hair, perfect body and sense of style.

What's next in the works for Caudalie?
We have a huge revolution coming. Not only are Caudalie products going to be even more effective, we have been working for the past years with Harvard Medical School and the longevity Guru Dr David Sinclair on an exciting new innovation. We want our products to be highly natural, between 95% and 100% natural ingredients. We want our formulas to be 100% clean, taking the brand a step further. And finally, we aim to commit to zero waste by 2022, by using either recycled packaging or recyclable packaging.