Q&A: Mathilde Thomas, Co-founder of Caudalie

Mathilde Thomas

The skincare maven answers our Proustian beauty Qs

With Mathilde Thomas, 45, the stereotypes of Gallic culture hold true: there’s her breezy aesthetic and joie de vivre, not to mention the wine-steeped origins of her luxe skincare brand. In 1993, a professor visiting her parents’ Bordeaux vineyard, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, clued her in to the precious resource she was squandering: namely, the polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) in grape seeds. “Do you know that you are throwing away treasures?” the scientist asked. That aha moment led to the birth of Caudalie, a range starring those potent grape extracts, alongside other wine-y ingredients like resveratrol. Thomas and her hubby/company co-founder, Bertrand, moved to Manhattan in 2010 to lead the stateside expansion of the brand, currently carried in Canada at Sephora, Murale and Jean Coutu. As we wait for her book, The French Beauty Solution: Time-Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out, to hit shelves in July, we asked Thomas to share her vanity philosophy. 

What is your idea of perfect beauty? Being in the Alps on top of fresh powder. I think there’s nothing more beautiful than icy, crisp mountains and pure Alpine air.

How do you look when you feel most like yourself? Natural, relaxed. I’m on my bike in jeans and a white blouse.

If you could create a fragrance that encapsulated your personality, what would it smell like? The vine flowers at my family château. They only blossom for three days in June.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten at a beauty counter? That I should brighten the inside of the eye contour to look five years younger. That’s why, when I created Premier Cru The Eye Cream, I included 10 percent pearlizer to reflect light.

What is your biggest beauty extravagance? This was a long time ago, but once I took three days off with my sister and went to the spa. No husband. No kids. It was great.

Which one of your signature beauty techniques should every woman know? That oxidation not only rusts cars and turns food [like apples] brown, but it’s responsible for four out of five wrinkles. So every morning, women should bubble-wrap their skin using a moisturizer with antioxidants and an SPF.


Mathilde Thomas’s Beauty Picks


What primping ritual do you consider personally irrelevant? I think everything is important. Every beauty ritual should be quick, simple and easy, but I don’t see anything as irrelevant.

What is your greatest beauty regret? I don’t have any. Even when I had short hair. It was ugly, but I was happy to try.

What is your anti-aging motto? Moisturize, put on antioxidants, always use an SPF, and remove your makeup every night.

What do you deem a beauty crime? Botox that is way too obvious.

What do you consider an underrated skincare commandment? I’m shocked when I see young people party and then just go to bed. Remove your makeup at night! It’s super important. Use a micellar water if you don’t have time.

If you could change anything about the beauty industry, what would that be? I think companies don’t give back enough. Caudalie is one of the biggest European contributors to 1% for the Planet [a network of companies that donate at least one percent of their sales proceeds to eco causes]. That shouldn’t be the case because we’re not the biggest European skincare company.


This article was originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Cosmetics magazine. For more, download our iPad edition.