a new book and some new cosmetics

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Browsing in the English-language bookstore, W.H. Smith, on the rue de Rivoli last week, I came across this memoir and purchased it. New Yorker Nadja Spiegelman is the daughter of Pulitzer-prize winner, Art Spiegelman, cartoonist and author of the celebrated novel, Maus. Her equally creative mother is Paris-born Françoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker magazine. Having famous and talented parents does not automatically assure the same for the child. (Is talent hereditary?) Nadja writes beautifully and evocatively about her trips to Paris, about her grandmother who lived on a houseboat on the river Seine, and about her own growing-up years in a Soho loft. But it’s the storytelling of her mother’s life that’s most interesting, and the way she juxtaposes her own coming-of-age stories with her mother’s who moved, alone, to NYC in the 1970s. The talented 30 year old Nadja writes with candor, poetry and maturity.

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Leaving the bookstore and ambling along the backstreets leading to the Place de l’Opéra, a sudden rainstorm broke out. Sans parapluie, I ran into the nearest store for shelter. It was Marionnaud, a good cosmetic and perfume chainstore here in France. If you’re lucky enough to get a good salesperson (which I did), you’ll discover all sorts of new products and brands. Like Qiriness and Natura Siberica, both completely affordable. The Qiriness extreme moisture balm is divine. Only 40 euros, it’s gel-based. Here’s what the blurb says – A voluptuous and velvety gel-cream texture with an invigorating and tonic fragrance of melon and freshly cut white flowers: a real treat for the senses. You spread a thick layer on your face in the evening and don’t rinse until the next morning. I love it.

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As for Natura Siberica, it’s organic, Russian and claims to use wild herbs and flowers. If you’re into hand creams like I am, I recommend their beautiful fragrant hand cream which I discovered in London last year. Natura Siberica has won a lot of international awards for best face care, best organic, etc.

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From the cult but unexciting German brand, Dr. Hauschka, to just plain argan oil from Morocco, I’m always changing and experimenting with face creams and cosmetics in general. I love the ritual of face-cleansing at the end of the day, coming home and taking everything off – the make-up, the grime and pollutants – then rinsing and using toner on a cotton pad. Right now I’m using Clarins toning lotion, but when that’s finished I’ll try something else.

Here’s straight-talking Sali Hughes, British cosmetic guru, explaining how to use the hot cloth cleansing method –