Words by Emily Algar
Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir was born from a book of spells dating back to the 16th century found on the banks of the Seine River in Paris. Inside the book was a recipe for an all-natural elixir used by the Queen of Hungary to care for her complexion – legend has it that it was the royal’s radiant skin that actually charmed the King of Poland (who was 35 years her junior at the time).
Mathilde Thomas was working at Château Smith Haut Lafitte, a vineyard in Bordeaux owned by her parents, when she decided to rework the original formula with a contemporary (and French!) spin. Already immersed in the skincare space, Mathilde and her husband Bertrand had been exploring the antioxidant power of grape polyphenols, and so combined these learnings with the Queen’s famed formulation to produce Caudalie Beauty Elixir in 1997.
The mist-toner hybrid was an instant cult item, loved by French skincare purists and celebrity makeup artists. It became a staple backstage at fashion weeks; a sort of industry secret for refreshing a model’s skin between shows. Public praise from high profile figures – including Victoria Beckham in 2012 and Rosie Huntington Whitely in 2017 – further cemented it as an iconic product, and it’s been an international best-seller ever since.
Part of the appeal of Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir is that in the 25 years since it launched, the formula has remained exactly the same: Benzoin to soothe the skin, myrrh to tone, essential oils of rosemary from Tunisia to energise and peppermint to stimulate, along with orange blossom to soften, rose for luminosity and, of course, radiance-enhancing grape pulp extract from France – otherwise known as Caudalie’s flagship ingredient. Zingy and wonderfully herbaceous, Beauty Elixir has remained vegan, paraben-free and of 100 percent natural origins since its inception (features that were quite an anomaly at the time). It also represented a new kind of French beauty; one that married plant extracts with a luxurious experience – a recipe that has absolutely paid off.
This year, the product will undergo a packaging transformation, however the formula itself will remain exactly the same (because if it ain’t broke…). From April, Beauty Elixir will move to a tinted pink and green bottle, reflective of the rose, grape and mint extracts inside. C’est chic.
Whether it’s to set makeup, prep the skin or refresh throughout the day , Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir really is one of the longest-standing multi-purpose skincare items on the market – and with royal origins, we wouldn’t expect anything less.
16th Century: The Queen of Hungary records the details of her facial elixir
1995: Mathilde and Thomas launch Caudalie with three products that hero grape polyphenols
1997: Caudalie Beauty Elixir is launched
2017: Rosie-Huntington Whiteley shares that she’s been using Beauty Elixir for
10 years 2022: New Beauty Elixir packaging is launched