Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Caudalie's Beauty Elixir / Review

In deciding to write a review about this product I had no idea how far it would take me. Straight back to the Middle Ages!

I've had a bottle of this in my armoire for months. Why? Well, I got it as a special gift and I must admit, I didn't really know what to do with it. I remember when I got home, I sprayed some on my arm and was quite taken aback by the fragrance. Spray this on my face? Huh?

What was the idea behind Caudalie's Beauty Elixir? 
"Inspired by Queen Isabelle of Hungary’s elixir of youth, this treatment smooths away fine lines, tightens pores and gives the complexion a real boost of radiance."  Caudalie website
Reading this I just had to know more and since I'm not very familiar with the history Eastern European countries it was an opportunity for me to go and do a bit of reading Who was Queen Isabelle and what was that elixir of youth?

A bit of history

The who was she is not really known. Like many stories that originated in the Middle Ages, it would seem that the real facts have been lost. Was she one person or a combination of several like it's occasionally said about King Arthur? Some rather important details seem to have been confused in the following centuries. This queen of Hungary is sometimes referred as Isabella but most often as Elisabeth and in some stories, Hungary Water is attributed to Saint-Elisabeth of Hungary but she was not a queen.

The story doesn't state who created it but it was likely either a monk or a court alchemist. It would seem that the queen used it internally to cure some of her ailments and externally as a beauty elixir. In the legend it is said that it has helped her keep a younger complexion since she was able to attract the attention of a man much younger than her. She was 72 yrs old when the king of Poland asked for her hand in marriage. It is said that she declined, wishing to concentrate on her religion.

Portrait of Elisabeth of Hungary, 
Simone Martini, San Francesco in Assisi

On all the websites I consulted, the consensus is that that Hungary Water was introduced to the rest of Europe in 1370 due in part to king Charles V Le Sage or France. He was apparently fond of fragrances and received some as a gift.

In the 17th century, it was widely used, thought to treat rheumatism, heart palpitations, liver problems, jaundice, stomach aches among other things and even the plague. It was also believed that it's use would help regain the beauty and strenght required for rituals of seduction. Apparently it was widely used at the court of Louis the XIV. Madame de Sévigné kept some in a pocket and her daughter Madame de Grignan used it as well. Madame de Maintenon recommended it to her pupils of the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis (a school she founded for girls of poor noble families at Saint-Cyr) to protect them from the plague. It was apparently quite popular until the reign of Napoléon 1er, period when it was replaced by eau de cologne.

Portrait of Madame de Sévigné, 
Lefèvre, Musée Carnavalet

The original formula has been long forgotten but it is known that it contained distilled rosemary and possibly thyme in an alcohol base which might have been brandy like. It would probably smell quite bland to the modern nose. In later versions, citrus, lavender, mint, marjoram and orange blossom where likely added. Today, Fragonard sells a version marketed for men, Eau de Hongrie, in which they have included bergamot, jasmine, amber and cistus.

Eau de Hongrie, Fragonard

Back to Caudalie's Beauty Elixir

The only similarity to Hungary Water is rosemary and yet, it's not that noticeable. The citrus and mint are reminders of the later, 17th century version. What is surprising about Caudalie's Beauty Elixir is that fragrance was added to the mix. I was stunned when I read the ingredient list. Why add fragrance with all the odorant components like rose water, rosemary, mint and citrus? This is truly not for everyone and for me, this resembles more an eau de toilette than an treatment.

I'm not sensitive to fragrance but in the past year I've been choosing skin care products which are lighter in that area. Hard for me to go for something with no fragrance at all, I've recently realised that I am annoyed when there is too much unless it's for the body. Case and point, last year, a Gift With Purchase from Estée Lauder included a small size of the Soft Clean Tender Creme Cleanser. It is a very good gentle cleanser but I almost choked at the smell and got annoyed by the fact that it was lingering way too long. Seemed I could still smell it under my moisturizer.

How to use?

Spray lightly on your face, like a toner, after cleanser and before moisturizer. As a makeup fixer, after foundation, before powder. It can also be used anytime during the day to refresh.

What is it suppose to do?

Smooth lines and tighten up pores. In other words give one's skin a coup d'éclat effect. Used first thing in the morning, it's suppose to wake you up beautifully.

Spray this on my face? Well, I finally ended up working up the courage to do it. I used it for about 4 days. Did I get hooked on it liks is seems to be the case for some? No. I do still have a bit of a cold and the only thing good about it was that it appeared to clear my sinuses, briefly, but I do believe it did. This is probably due to the minty/citrusy fragrance.The first time I tried it, 10 minutes or so after, I felt a little heat on my skin. Thankfully it didn't last. Did I get smoother skin, the coup d'éclat effect? No.

Caudalie is a skin care line that is slowly growing on me. I do love their micellar water which I've already reviewed as well as other products that I will talk about eventually but the Beauty Elixir is obviously not for me. Too fragrant, I don't find it does anything more than a spray of rose water would. It's also very expensive for what it is in my opinion. The presentation, a glass bottle with a spray that should be revisited, especially considering the price, gives it an ordirary allure.

Beauty Elixir, 
100ml, $48.00
30ml, $18.00


On Beauté-test it gets 4/5 stars from 436 members. Outstanding!
MakeupAlley gives it 3.6/5 lippies from 152 members.

So, if you are interested by this product, you may consider these scores and go for it. It's not because I didn't like it that it will be the same for you. We are all different. :D

Ingredients, taken from Beauté-test:
Aqua, alcohol denat (sd alcohol 39 C), rosa damascena flower oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, potassium alum citrus aurenitum amara (bitter orange) flower water, propylene glycol, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, commiphora myrrha extract, styrax benzoin resin extract, melissa officinalis (balm mint) seed oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract, parfum.

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