Using French Skincare in California

A Californian in Paris: French Skincare on a California Beach

A Californian in Paris: Sunbathing in Orange County



Happy that I finally got my dose of sun (as well as a nice tan), I’d like to share with you the products I’ve been using to keep my skin nice as it transitions from ghastly Parisian pale to a nice Californian bronze. It’s very important to keep your skin protected from the sun, no matter how much you want to keep laying outside. It doesn’t mean you have to tame your desire for nicely golden skin. But you’ve got to be smart when it comes to shielding yourself from the damaging effects of sun burns, dry skin, and worst of all– potential skin cancer.

As a general rule, you want to put your sunscreen on at least 15 minutes before going into the sun. You may also need to put on several layers of sunscreen. It’s no question that you need to keep reapplying your sunscreen every hour or two, depending on your contact with water. Always double check your products’ directions and follow them exactly.

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Comfort 50+ SPF For Sensitive and Sun Intolerant Skin (UVB + UVA protection)

Last summer, Petit Copain and I got madly burnt in San Diego. As a brown-skinned person, I rarely burn like a lobster. However, after spending 4 hours in the sun without properly putting on sunscreen, I became terribly sunburnt. I couldn’t sit down for a week or two without being in severe pain. Yeah. This dreadful sunburn happened because it was my first time using a spray-on sunscreen. I didn’t bother reapplying it throughout the day nor did I apply it properly the first time. If you are using spray-on sunscreens, you MUST put on many layers as well as rub the formula into your skin. Petit Copain and I unfortunately didn’t get understand this, and had nice little zig-zag patterns all over our bodies (lobster-zebras!)

Ever since that incident, I have stayed away from spray-ons and have gone back to classic sunscreen lotions. More moisturizing and soothing, I prefer the feel of creams. You also avoid breathing in the fumes of spray-on sunscreens. The problem with creams is that the texture can be extremely chalky or sticky, which is very unpleasant in the sand. La Roche Posay, a very notable brand for sunscreen care (and one of my favs), came to my rescue. Not only was the Anthelios XL successful in preventing sunburns, it was extremely moisturizing without leaving such a heavy residue. At first, the cream is very thick to put on but quickly absorbs into the skin. It also didn’t leave a white, chalky residue and I got my tan without looking like a painted ghost. In 100F/38C weather, I did not get burnt. A solid victory for me.

I think Target now sells some versions of Anthelios and you should definitely grab some if you can. Double check if these American versions contain the UVB + UVA protection formula; otherwise, I can’t guarantee the different versions will be as effective as the originals.

As I’ve said in the beginning of the post, keep reapplying the sunscreen and make sure to let your skin absorb the cream before stepping out into the sun again.

La Roche Posay Anthelios AC Facial Matte Fluid SPF 30

Perfect for the face, this matte sunscreen won’t make your visage super shiny or greasy. If 30 isn’t enough for you, the AC line does have higher SPFs available. I love this sunscreen as it’s way cheaper than the Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42 (also an amazing product). The La Roche Posay version comes out like a liquid and quickly dries onto your skin as you apply it. It’s great to put under or over makeup. I usually use this La Roche Posay cream for sunscreen reapplication throughout the day. The Shiseido sunscreen, which I also love, does make your face quite chalky looking. La Roche Posay does not, making it a very superior product. Nevertheless, most of Shiseido’s products are zinc oxide-based, which helps out people who are allergic to common sunscreen ingredients (hence, the chalkiness). If you’re looking for French mineral-based sunscreens, La Roche Posay does carry some in their Anthelios line.

Avène Hydrance Optimale UV Légère SPF 20

This is my daily facial sunscreen and moisturizer in one. As you have read from my previous post on French skincare, I usually use the Riche version during the winter. This légère version has a lighter cream of course, but it still keeps my face properly moisturized. When it’s extremely hot, I apply the La Roche Posay Anthelios Matte Fluid sunscreen over the course of the day. I find that reapplying the Avène (either type) is a little too greasy for me, as it is a 2-in-1 product after all. Still, it’s a nice base and I highly recommend this product for daily use.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré

I have a love and hate relationship with Embryolisse. As popular as it is, I find that it can lead to pesky pimples and greasy faces. At least for me, it’s not meant to be applied every day. However, Embryolisse has saved my dehydrated skin many times. It’s a great moisturizer (but does not contain sunscreen) and you should keep some in your purse for emergencies. I’d recommend using it once or twice a week, or when your skin is very ravaged from being dried up in the sun. Embryolisse is a very heavy cream, so make sure not to use more than a small squeeze or two. I use this cream during the night, after a day of successful sunbathing.

Merci Handy Chill Out Love & Refreshing Face Mist in Mint

At first, I hated this product. A sample from one of my French Birchboxes, I was very confused to receive a mint-smelling facial spray. Mint isn’t exactly a scent/flavor I like… unless it’s ground-up in a Mojito. My first application wasn’t so charming either… breathing in the product while you spray it leads to a nasty coughing fit, full of mint. But a hot day on Paris completely changed my mind. Closing my eyes and holding my breath, I found out how extremely refreshing and cooling the spray is. Mint does wonders to soothe a sweaty and uncomfortable face (it’s also nice on the neck and arms). While I still love my Avène and Evian thermal sprays, the Mercy Handy Face Mist is a great way to cool down in the summer heat.

L’Occitane Amande Mains à Croquer (Almond Delicious Hands) Hand Cream

Who doesn’t have a tube of L’Occitane hand cream in their purse? Don’t fret if you’re an exception. Quickly go out and buy some now. Compact, with a spill-proof, easy-to-open cap, I love this hand cream. Almond is one of my favorite flavors/scents; it is also extremely moisturizing. It was great having this in my purse while traveling around L.A. My hands became very dry in the sand as well as on biking excursions along the beach. A must-have.

Labello Strawberry Shine Lip Balm

Before coming to France, I heard so much raving about this lip balm from a former, beloved roommate. Sadly, upon my arrival to Paris, I totally forgot the name. After trying numerous chapsticks, I finally found Labello. It was my destiny. An extremely moisturizing lip balm, I have completely abandoned Burt’s Bees for Labello. While the menthol cool of Burt’s Bees has always been a nice feel to my lips, I much prefer how beautifully plump and soft my lips are when using Labello. This pleasant scent and shine is a perfect summer companion. The color blends naturally with my lips and also features little scrubby, glittery beads which adds shine as well as exfoliation. Kinda like rubbing your lips on an actual strawberry. Buy it now!

La Roche Posay Posthelios After-Sun Face and Body Cream (not pictured)

Another reason why I didn’t get horribly sunburnt this summer is due to this special after-tanning cream. It’s so soothing, I want to use it every day as a body lotion. Petit Copain ended up being a lobster towards the end of our trip, as he kept forgetting to reapply sunscreen after his long dips in the ocean. It eased the pain of his sunburns and prevented major peeling on his back. While I wasn’t terribly sunburnt this time around, the cream seemed to reinvigorate and rehydrate my sun-baked skin. I highly recommend this product even if you don’t easily burn. It’s like adding a whole other layer of protection on your skin.

Well, that’s all for now. Enjoy the sun, readers, and keep yourself safe!

À bientôt 🙂


California Swag

A Californian in Paris: Welcome Home Burrito

Whenever I come back home, the first thing I crave is either a giant burrito or Panda Express. The former is more explainable, the latter… hey, I freakin’ love their orange chicken. For some reason, Chinese food isn’t really celebrated in Paris. You have a lot of French-Chinese running Japanese restaurants instead of serving their own delicious cuisine. Then again, Panda Express isn’t truly Chinese either.

Another tragedy in Paris is the lack of authentic and delicious Mexican food. Luckily, I have relieved my pain and suffering with the above photo.

My family lives in a small suburb close to Los Angeles. Whenever they pick me up from the airport, we always get to cruise along the famous 1 freeway on the way home. Many people think the 1 goes all the way up the California coast— but this isn’t exactly true (especially going toward San Francisco… you’ll eventually have to continue on the 101). But the 1 is very scenic where it starts along the coast in Los Angeles.

Once I got out of the terror that was LAX border control, I felt so free. Warm weather accompanied warm faces. I was so happy to be home, but being away for so long, it was hard to switch back into English. I kept saying pardon and excusez-moi, even bonjour to my mom. I don’t use contractions when teaching English to my French students (or use them at all in France), so I had to adjust to speaking casually again. My mom even told me I now have a slight French accent when speaking English 😛

Our ride home was crazy beautiful classic California. Passing through Malibu and all the state beaches… seeing the Pacific again…. Smelling ocean air. We picked up fresh picked strawberries by the fields. I am in love with L.A. all over again.

A Californian in Paris: California Strawberries

I’ve never been good with jet lag, so I’ve been cursed with waking up and sleeping during strange hours, but it’s been getting better. My family and I went to Santa Monica the other day to get our shopping on at Mitsuwa, a famous Japanese market chain in California.

A Californian in Paris: Calpico Ice Cream Cone Cookies

Calpico Ice Cream Cone shaped cookies

California is lucky to have such a melting pot of beautiful cultures AND amazing food. The best foods are always a fusion of different cultures.

A Californian in Paris: Santa Monica Mitsuwa Haul

The little pink circle candies also turn into whistles- my favorite treat as a child.

At Mitsuwa, I also discovered some delightful Japanese mushrooms that I’ll be playing with in the next post. Maybe adding them with some noodles and tofu? Or marinating the mushrooms alone with Japanese ponzu sauce, and adding green onions and toasted sesame seeds on top? Or I could add a little Mexican inspiration here with jalapenos?

A Californian in Paris: Japanese Mushrooms

For my French readers, I’ll have to create a must-do list for summer adventures in L.A., including what to bring from the U.S. to France. You can load up on Cheetos (trust me, mes amis, don’t distrust the fake bright cheese color… these chips are scandalously addictive). However, I advise you to also take advantage of the melting pot that is America. For my first recommendation (or second… if you first go toward Mexican food like I did), I’d look into our Japanese-American culture (like Mitsuwa Market or Little Tokyo in Downtown L.A.) and the products available in Southern California.

A Californian in Paris: Royce Chocolates

For example, these outrageously delicious Japanese chocolates! They are a must. These Royce chocolates are on par with… maybe better than… the chocolate I’ve had in Europe. My favorite French chocolatier is Jacques Genin (I also adore Jean-Paul Hévin), but you know what, they’ve got some fierce competition with Royce. Royce chocolates have an international reputation for impeccable sugary delights, customer service, and cute af packaging.

A Californian in Paris: Royce Chocolate Packing

The box even came with its own little ice pack.

The chocolate was melt-in-your-mouth divine. We also bought some mochi (Raspberry Mille-Feuille, Green Tea, Peach Yogurt), but alas… They didn’t last long because they were too delicious not to devour immediately. All of my readers must at least try the Royce mochi, if not the chocolate.

The chocolate is a bit pricey (one box was $18 + tax), but understandably so. Just the experience alone of seeing the chocolates get wrapped and then unwrapping them by yourself later is so worth the price, if not more for the chocolates themselves.

A Californian in Paris: Royce Chocolate Packing

And it comes with a tiny spatula.

A Californian in Paris: Eat Royce Chocolate

In-cred-i-ble…. or as we say in French, incroyable (enh-croy-a-bleh)!

There were many flavors to choose from, but I wanted to try the mild chocolate as a contrast to the dark chocolate I’d been gobbling up under the dark grey skies of Paris… bittersweet, just like the current state of the city! As the weather in Paris continues to be dreadful, I’ve been rejoicing in the sun. But I shouldn’t brag… I’m ghastly pale next to my own mother, who has always been the palest one in my family. Tomorrow, you’ll find me tanning on the beach. It’ll be a nice 82F/28C day.

Until next time!