Catherine Zeta-Jones

International Women’s Day is a huge event around the world, especially in Europe. I remember being in Rome many years ago and being utterly charmed to see men handing sprigs of mimosa to random women on the street. My sprigs would go to some of Europe’s most beautiful and talented women, Italy’s Martina Stella, for example, the exotically Spanish Penelope Cruz, Germany’s Diane Kruger, Marion Cotillard from France, and Welsh lass Catherine Zeta-Jones. And while doing so, I could not resist giving them a bit of un-asked-for beauty advice.

Martina Stella, the Italian actress who was in Ocean’s Twelve and Nine, fronts Biotherm, a beauty brand that I never really got. Biotherm’s latest offering is an eye cream called Skin Ergetic Eyes ($31). It has all the predictable silicas, alcohols, and chelating agents and fillers. But there are some interesting things lurking within as well. Vitreoscilla ferment is one of Biotherm’s signature ingredients, but unfortunately there isn’t much information on what it does. Better documented is an algae that is loaded with amino acids, chlorella vulgaris. And, although it’s way down at the end, there’s the power peptide Matrixyl 3000. It is highly unlikely that the Matrxyl 3000 here is at the recommended 4% concentration, so it’s really a waste. However, I could tell Signorina Stella about a couple of alternative eye creams with prominently featured concentrations of Matrixyl 3000, plenty of other great things, and none of Biotherm’s money wasters. They would be Your Best Face Correct ($150 in the shop), one of my all-time favorite eye creams that is packed with free-radical scavengers, and Skinfinite LOL Eye Serum ($49 in the shop), with Matrxyl 3000 as the third most dominant ingredient and helpful antidotes to puffiness and dark circles.

Penelope Cruz has been batting her (not insignificant) lashes at Lancome and helping to promote the oddly named Hypnose Doll Eyes Mascara. As I fully expected, Hypnose Doll is an unappealing roster of chemicals. One of the reasons that I rarely wear mascara is that I’m allergic to so many of them, resulting in weeping eyes that make even the most waterproof of them smudge. Within half an hour I look like a hungover panda. My option is to reach for jane iredale Purelash Extender and Conditioner ($16.50 in the shop) - who knew that a lash conditioner would make such a difference in obtaining tronger, more supple lashes? The second ingredient is algae and in short, the formula has nothing nasty. Purelash is augmenting the work of AQ Lash ($99 in the shop), a growth product that has given me longer, darker thicker lashes. And when I want to reach for mascara (which mostly doesn’t seem all that necessary), I flick on a coat of jane iredale Longest Lash ($33).

Diane Kruger was born Diane Heidkruger in Germany and went on to become a model, an actress with roles in Helen of Troy and Inglorious Basterds, and L’Oreal spokeswoman. L’Oreal’s Infallible Never Fail Lip Color comes in Diane Kruger’s Beige, a mocha pinkish shade that is similar to chemical-free and antioxidant-enriched RMS Beauty Lip Shine in Bloom ($25 in the shop). Ms. Kruger’s personal favorite from the L’Oreal lineup, according to an interview in a British magazine, is Elnett, a hairspray that is akin to chemical waste. I feel as though I should draw her attention of Intelligent Nutrients, whose hairspray is so full of natural ingredients it can be safely drunk. Apparently, Diane Kruger has been using the same moisturizer “for years”: Roséliane Creme by French brand Uriage. This is so mediocre, with standard emollients, solvents, and surfactants, that I felt overwhelming relief to see that it has shea butter. I also took a quick look at Roséliane Cleanser. Appropriately, it contains mimosa (well, mimosa bark). But that’s about it; the main ingredient is Poloxamer 184, a synthetic polymer. I’ll take La Vie Celeste Exfoliating Cleanser ($40 in the shop), which has mother of pearl and pink clay, or Red Flower Lymphatic Cleanser ($42 in the shop), which doubles as a mask with three types of antioxidant-rich mushrooms. For a simple day cream that delivers a concentrated dose of vitamin C, look no further than the excellent Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop) or Snowberry Nourishing Lite Day Cream ($95).

Marion Cotillard’s Oscar win a couple of years ago had tout l‘America talking about Melvita, which she touts as her favorite skincare line. Here at Truth In Aging, we’ve tried a few of Melvita’s products. But did we like them? Oui et non. Our tester Jaye really liked Melvita Huile d’Argan, but then what’s not to like about argan oil. Melvita Hydratism Moisturizing Gel got a muted thumbs up from our reviewer, who found it hydrating but wasn’t completely impressed by the non-organic ingredients. Meanwhile, Valerie rejected Melvita Cleansing Milk, much preferring the “fabulous” Living Nature Vitalising Cleanser ($30) and Sevani Ageless Radiance Refining AHA Cleanser ($39 in the shop). That got me to thinking about alternatives to the faux organic Melvita’s Hydratism Moisturizing Gel, which led me to Arcona Desert Mist ($35), a natural and lovely moisturizing gel that provides a protective barrier. Argan oil’s simplicity is matched by the price of Sheer Miracle Organic Argan Oil ($21.50).

Catherine Zeta-Jones has a powerful statuesque beauty that has been fronting Elizabeth Arden for more than a decade. Elizabeth Arden’s cosmetic lines tend to highlight a single ingredient – Prevage, for example, features ubiquinone and ceramides and is the star of the show in the Gold Eye Capsules. As department store brands go, Elizabeth Arden is far from the worst and the above mentioned Capsules have more good than bad – apart from way too much silicone and mineral oil for my taste. But back to ceramides. A French study shows that topical ceramides along with “other skin lipids” improves skin barrier repair. Skinfinite Platimum 1% Retinol ($63 in the shop) has ceramides and 1% retinol. Osmotics Anti-Radical Age Defense ($111) is a classic with ceramides and free-radical scavengers and Skin Nutrition Cell CPR ($170) has it all (peptides, growth factors, amino acids), as well as ceramides.