Interview. Get Your Skin Glowing for Spring with Tips from Caudalie Founder Mathilde Thomas

Mt in vines
Mathilde Thomas in her family vineyard in Bordeaux, France

Remember that one gorgeous day last week? Briefly, the weight of the constant cloud cover was lifted and we were all treated the kiss of the sun and allowed a respite from the bulk of a heavy overcoat. I spent part of that day chatting with the founder and owner of Caudalie, Mathilde Thomas, and it felt as if she had brought the warmth and light herself, scooped up and transported it from her family's vineyard in Bordeaux, France.

We sat with the sun on our backs and discussed her beauty line, which blends nature and science so effectively it has become France's #1 brand in anti-aging and in the mending of discoloration. Mathilde was also kind enough to give us some valuable tips on making the making the transition from winter to spring skin an easier one.


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SCS: First if all, please tell me the story behind the inception of Caudalie.

MT: My parents had bought a vineyard in Bordeaux in 1990 called Smith Haut Lafitte. It was an 18th century chateau, classic beige stone and sprawling acres of land. They had met met on the French National Ski Team and I grew up in the French Alps. I skied competitively for 6 years as a child and growing up and my father eventually took over a sports business, like a sporting goods store. So after I was grown up they bought the vineyard and decided to settle in Bordeaux, welcoming about 15,000 guests a year for visits and wine tasting. 

In October 1993, it was harvest season and my father asked me if I would take a group of pharmacists around the vineyard. One of them was a Dr. Vercauteren who was the head of the Laboratory of Natural Substances in Bordeaux as well as part of the World Group of Polyphenols, a precious antioxidant that's been proven 10,000 times more effective than Vitamin E for skin treatment. At the time I was living in Nice, in the French Riviera working with perfumers in the extraction of essential oils. I was planning on going into the field of fragrance production. But everything changed when I met Dr. Vercauteren that day!

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Les Source de Caudalie vineyard in Bordeaux, France

SCS: What did he discover?

MT: That our vineyard was full of these polyphenols, which were found not only in the grapes but in the vines that held the grapes. The sap, oils, water and seeds were all valuable ingredients to nourish, hydrate and protect the skin. So from that discovery, Caudalie was created.

SCS: The Caudalie skincare regimen is all about calming and nurturing the skin to create a radiant but still natural-looking glow. After enduring the tough elements of winter, how can we coax that glow out of our skin while still protecting it from the sun and heat of the warmer seasons?

MT: We have several products that are geared toward the transition from winter to spring. First, the Caudalie Creme Gommante Douce (Gentle Buffing Cream) is a wonderful mild exfoliant to calm the skin. It has jojoba beads and very gently sloughs away the dead cells that may have built up from the cold winds. For normal or combination skin, I recommend it can be used 2-3 times a week while sensitive skin may only need to use it once a week.

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream, $35

Then, we have two highly effective Caudalie Vinoperfect products which use viniferine, an ingredient Dr. Vercauteren found in the grapevine stalk that's now been proven 62 times more effective than vitamin C to brighten and combat discoloration. The viniferine makes skin less yellow and more pink and was first discovered by the vineyard workers in the old days who would use the sap from the vine to smooth their face and hands. They would prune the vine in March and the sap would leak for about a month, which they could use to moisturize. Once the sap dried up, it kept the skin soft for at least another two months. It is a very powerful brightener and anti-oxidant. The Vinoperfect products I chose are the Masque Revelateur Declat (Radiance Revealing Mask) and the Creme Nuit Anti-Taches (Night Correcting Cream). Both products will lighten dull-looking skin and minimize any age spots and sun spots, as well as boost cell renewal with their fruit acids.

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Caudalie Night Correcting Cream and Radiance Revealing Masque, $68 and $46 respectively

Once you're cleansed and hydrated overnight, for daytime we have the Creme Teintee Teint De Peche (Fresh Complexion Tinted Moisturizer) for both Fair to Medium Skin and Dark Skin which you can apply either on its own or over another moisturizer for a subtle bronzed look. We also have the Teint Divin Gradual Self-Tanning Cream which is the perfect product to wake up your skin with a gradual, natural-looking glow while also providing a nourishing barrier with glycerine and grapeseed polyphenols.

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Caudalie Tinted Moisturizer and Self-Tanner, $39

Finally, for the body the Crushed Cabernet Scrub is perfect for detoxifying and renewing the rough patches of skin that have built up in the winter. It's made from grapeseeds, honey and brown sugar so it is a highly effective exfoliant when rubbed in a circular motion all over the body. It stimulates circulation and helps unclog pores, leaving the skin silky. Each of the products will ensure a healthy and calm transition for your skin from winter into spring and is made with the highest concentration of the best molecules in our labs.

Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub, $29

SCS: Wow, that all sounds amazing! And speaking of your labs creating these amazing products, how far does the Caudalie umbrella extend today?

MT: We're currently sold in 25 countries and have 4 complete luxury Vinotherapie spas—one in the Plaza Hotel in New York, one in Versailles in France, one in Marques de Riscal in Spain and of course, our original family vineyard in Bordeaux. We offer all sorts of body treatments, massage, wraps and facial treatments as well as Caudalie Escape packages, which include several treatments designed to be experienced together.

Plaza Paradox Lounge
The Paradox Lounge in the Vinotherapie Spa in the Plaza Hotel, New York

In Europe we are sold in pharmacies, yet that means something different there than it does here. In Europe it is a place to find your favorite skincare and body products, not so much drugs and medicines. In the U.S. we are sold in Sephora stores (where Mathilde was speaking later that day) and are currently researching the possibility of standalone stores and boutique spas here in America. We are also studying the options of expanding our distribution here and even getting into the dermatology market.

Spain Spa low res
A spa room in the Vinotherapie Spa in Spain

SCS: That's amazing. You are truly an amazing success story and role model for women in business. What advice can you give to the emerging generation of businesswomen?

MT: Jump in the water, learn to swim after. What I mean is, if you find something you believe in or that excites you, don't think too much about it, just do it.  But most industries out there are very competitive, especially in beauty and cosmetics. So if you are thinking to break into that, make sure you have a great innovations. Not just something different but something effective since that is what will bring people back. Word of mouth is so important when one is starting out and you want people seeing results and saying positive things all the time. So if you have that and you have the drive, don't over-analyze, just do it. It's the best thing that can happen to you.

SCS: Thank you so much for speaking with us Mathilde Thomas. It was a pleasure hearing your story and all about your wonderful skincare brand.

Me with Mathilde Thomas and my book of Caudalie products which I cant wait to try!

Shop Caudalie at any Sephora store or online at

-Alia Rajput

Photo Source: caudalie-usa


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