Magna Carta Holy Water

I electively spend $18 on a bottle of non-drinkable water. Is something wrong with that?


I used to be addicted to infomercials. I’d wake up early on Sunday mornings to watch them then beg my mother to consider Ron Popeil’s Showtime Rotisserie Oven. How badly I wanted to “Set it and forget it!” How I longed to buy anything that would cost me just four easy payments of only $19.99!

No matter the particulars of the product it sold, each segment adopted a similar format. First, a mustachioed man and his enthusiastic sidekick would narrate some household grievance: “Are you tired of chopping onions and mincing garlic?” Or: “Do you wish you could blend exotic smoothies at home?” Then: boy, did they have the solution for you.

For twenty-five minutes, this pair of hosts proceeded to extoll the virtues of such indispensable home goods as the Magic Bullet and Miracle Blade knives. They presented the new and improved Talavera Split-Ender Maxi Kit (“Say goodbye to split ends forever!”) and a motorized can opener endowed with life-saving properties.

“Order now!”

Of course, I could be swayed by less sophisticated schemes as well. After perusing an article entitled, “Prom Prep!” in an old issue of Seventeen, I sent away for a vial of Costa Rican tea-tree oil. My ashen locks did not assume reflective properties, but I did spend several days smelling like hand sanitizer. Last month, I had to actively resist the urge to purchase a Shake Weight at Target.

In retrospect, I’m surprised it took me so long to discover luxury facial spray. 30mL bottles of “Beauty Elixir” are exactly the kind of shams that the Home Shopping Network and my childhood dreams were made of. But despite my weakness for Sharper Image catalogues, I spent many happy years ignorant of caviar-infused creams or Evian Mineral Water Spray.

The Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker was productive and timesaving. But an undrinkable $12 bottle of water? Not for me.

If only I’d known then all that I know now: Cadualíe’s Eau de Beauté is so much more than H2O. It’s my version of Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff. It’s magic.

We were first introduced in an apothecary some blocks from my apartment. It was fall. I had ambled into the boutique on a whim, but no sooner had I crossed its lacquered threshold than a pore-less saleswoman — or, you know, fate —intervened.

“This season is so hard on the skin,” she said.

I nodded noncommittally.

“Have you ever tried Eau de Beauté?”

I had not.

Without warning, she sprayed it in my face.

Using the kind of voice that had once narrated the Sunday mornings of my youth, she prattled on about grape-seed extract and free radicals, but I was no longer listening. I was too busy inhaling the most intoxicating scent I’d ever encountered. My skin felt fresh and rejuvenated. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror. Had my eyes always shone so brightly? Had my complexion ever looked so radiant? Did I want to say goodbye to dry skin forever? Indeed, I did.

I bought it immediately. And unlike that tropical nut oil or the vaguely masochistic Japanese hair accouterment that languishes in the back of my medicine cabinet, I’ve been stockpiling it ever since.

I mist it on before flights and subway rides. I spray it on after lunch and before dinner and in the morning so that my eyeliner smudges just so. It reminds me of my grandmother and Albus Dumbledore. It makes me happy.

Facial mist isn’t going to ward off deep wrinkles or fine lines or evil spirits — not even one purportedly inspired by Queen Isabelle of Hungary’s “elixir of youth” is capable of so much. But every once in a while, it’s nice to buy into a myth. And given that the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer after which I once lusted retails for two easy payments of only $49.99, eighteen bucks doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay.

You must be guilty of a similar charge so let’s air out our feckless, feel good splurges, shall we?

Illustration by Charlotte Fassler

Get more Beauty ?
  • My best friend gave me Tatcha skin mist for Christmas and now I’m completely addicted. I refuse to go on an airplane without it.

  • I use the Evian water spray first thing in the morning, I haven’t tried the Eau de beauté, but I’ve tried many Caudalie products as they’re really big in France. And the Caudalie Spa near Bordeaux is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been too!

    Mafalda ❤

  • LexoRexo

    This winter has been brutal — Im obsessed with Balanced Guru’s Tone it Smoothly toner –it smells like heavenly chamomile. Good for my skin, and it feels like I just put in an hour of yoga!! Check it out!! x

  • I’ve been holding off on trying this for years. I keep hearing good things about it, but never pulled the trigger.

    Right now, while in the midst of a terrifying PMS breakout (thanks, winter weather and my stupid hormones), I’m very much tempted. I’ll take damn near anything right now, if it will work!

    • Mattie Kahn

      Give in! Join us.
      It’s so hydrating and indulgent over here.

      • I never was good with peer pressure…and I do have the day off tomorrow to do some shopping!

  • As long as you like it and you’re harming nobody, you’re free to spend the money you want!

  • Heather Funk

    I had a friend who considered her Evian spray the most ridiculous impulse-buy-bin-at-Sephora purchase she made in a series of such purchases, so I haven’t tried it… yet. I have, however, recently spent $53 on the faint hope of hair minimization promised by a moisturizer. It’s one of those things where maaaybe it’s working? Maybe it’s not? I’m too routine-oriented to discontinue my hair removal processes to answer that question, though some days I am less doubtful than others.

  • My twin daughters used to get up on Saturday mornings, take a clipboard and make lists of all the weird items sold on TV. Everything from pasta pots to shamwas. The list would have the name of the item, the price and the 800 number to call. All day they would beg me to order at least one thing. I am a bad Mom, I never ordered anything.

    • Mattie Kahn

      Don’t worry. Neither did mine and–barring weird beauty obsessions–I turned out okay.

  • Hey Ms. Mattie!
    It’s always nice to read your essays on here! I’ve sprayed that stuff on my face once and somehow I think it rid my pores of life’s dirt in, like, 43 seconds….?

    I might have to splurge on a bottle of my own.

    As for current splurges, it’s usually an end-of-the-week acai bowl. When sporadic babysitting is the main source of income, I cry every time I give over a dollar for anything, so paying $6-$7 for a few ounces of purple shit with a sparse sprinkling of fruit is always very hard. On the other hand, they are SO GOOD. Whenever I do the hypothetical “when I grow up I want to…” game, it’s always “when I grow up I want to make enough money to cover rent and acai bowls three times weekly.”

  • Charlotte Fassler

    Well seeing as I just spent $37 on Manuka honey per Kate’s suggestion/ the internet’s I would say I am pretty susceptible to “miracle products”

    • pinkschmink

      I just bought a Manuka honey face mask at the same time my mother bought ‘snail gel’. Both recommended for their miracle skin-transforming properties by people we trust, and now we’re evangelists too …

      • Charlotte Fassler

        Interesting idea to put it on your face. I bought it for the sore throat I feel coming on, but I imagine it is probably good for everything!

        • pinkschmink

          Honey is an amazing skincare ingredient (brace yourself, here comes the amateur science): it’s a natural antibacterial, so it is great for those who suffer with breakouts (hi!); it’s full of antioxidants that help anti-ageing; it’s soothing and moisturising and was used by the ancient Egyptians for healing wounds; and apparently it can open up pores so it’s cleansing too. Manuka honey is all of that on steroids, apparently.

          I’ll shut up now. (But seriously, it’s great.)

  • TW Abel.

    I’ve been using Caudalie’s beauty elixir since I was 18. It saved me during southern florida and New York City weather. Best splurge in my book.

  • cmunro

    I was in France recently and I bought the beauty elixir on the recommendation of every “What to Buy in French Pharmacies” article I read. It was the product I was most doubtful of, but I absolutely love it. It smells amazing and somehow makes everything better for a few freshly misted seconds.

  • Face mist is conspiracy. Only good for tanning misting. teeny tiny water bubbles reflect the light and make your skin tan (burn into cancerous cells). And it feels good. !!

  • Chelsea
  • Petra

    If the image above is a faithful portrayal of the color and pattern of the fluid that comes out of the bottle, I will be buying heaps of this stuff.
    Kudos, Charlotte, I love your illustrations.

  • Amyloulaney

    Just received my first bottle of this yesterday and it is lush. I’m hooked too.

  • I recently bought my first bottle of Caudelie’s Divine Oil. I had no idea what it actually did, but the reviews were fantastic, and since the low buy-in was only $9, I figured I should try it. I have no idea if the Beauty Elixir smells anything like the Divine Oil, but if it does, I know exactly what you mean. IT SMELLS TOO GOOD. I want it all over my body. I don’t even know (or care) if it has any benefits other than moisturizing, but I need it in my life forever and ever. I think I may have to bite the bullet and finally take the Beauty Elixir off my wish list and into my cart.
    Can we make a parody of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” about taking items out of your wish list and into your cart?

  • I splurge on Evian Water spray and Rose water. I mix Evian water with my CeraVe moisturizer and apple to face then I mist the spray before applying makeup. I mist rose water after applying makeup. I’m addicted to both, but I may just have to try Cadualíe’s Eau de Beauté!

  • Emi

    Sadly, Caudalie’s miracle beauty claims are deceiving…
    But I say if it feels good, then that’s what really counts…

  • Science Teacher

    I also hoard the Caudalie facial mist and keep it on my dressing table and in my purse. In my household, it is known as “Teen-away Spray,” because my favorite time to use it is between classes. Not only does it make my skin glow, I’m also convinced that it magically counteracts the pheromone-laden miasma in which I spend my days as a high school teacher!

  • Tessa

    It’s so comforting to know that there are other people who enjoy informercials as much as I do. I’ve spent hours watching HSN or QVC just for entertainment.

  • leatherboots

    I had a very similar experience at a Chantecaille counter where I was spritzed in the face with Chantecaille Pure Rose Water. I dropped $62 for a bottle. Is it absolutely lovely and refreshing? Yes. Does it smell amazing? Yes. Will I ever buy another bottle? Probably not. I’m still guilty about it.

  • Cynthia

    I buy locally made organic skin care products which are expensive but make my skin look and feel better, so my every few months’ splurge is worth it. If you use all the product and it makes you look and feel better, it’s worth every penny.

  • Hannah Sternberg

    So glad Mattie Kahn is back! Her pieces are always my favorites.
    I, too, was lured into the Eau de Beauté. However, after about a week of pretending I didn’t mind spraying it in my face, I had to pass it on to a friend.

    • Mattie Kahn

      Thank you! (Let me just say: I’m sure your friend is very grateful.)

  • Sara

    I have tried Caudalie’s Eau de Beaute some years ago, and it was literally useless. Nothing new — like 98% of all “magical” skincare items. A lot of simple moisturizer is everything you really need for dry skin. Water evaporates immediately unless you want to spray it constantly, like every few minutes. But, I enjoyed reading this essay, and thank you for that.

  • Lua

    Love it too!! Although at first I di don’t like so very much the smell, but it’s true, it’s magic!

  • Love!!!!!!!!!! I am completely obsessed!


  • pamb

    My favorite infomercial story: while I was in the hospital (in the mid 90s) recovering from surgery, I was watching TV at an ungodly hour. Doped up on painkillers, I watched the entire Victoria Principal infomercial and became obsessed. Every product was amazing! It would change my life! Luckily, they tell you not to bring your wallet to the hospital;, so I had no credit card available. By the time I woke up in the morning, I was over it.

  • Guilty of that same exact product. SO guilty. 😀 I now need it in both the regular size and travel size.

  • I just finished a bottle. I love the refreshing scent.

  • ana

    I use it too – similar experience. and the funniest part was that I spraied it on my boyfriend and now… he uses it too!!! ahahahaha, really!

  • LexoRexo

    So…you MR peeps need to check this out – Garance Dore the other day had a post about how hard it is to get eye make up off and her french readers all thought we were crazy state-side for not having something called micellaire water — this apparently loosens the make up and is very gentle. I picked some up at a pharmacy in town that imports fancy european stuff and it works….for about 21-40$ a bottle.

    Last night, imagine my surprise when at Trader Joe’s last night I saw micellaire make up removal towlettes? I havent tried them but I had to share! Especially since they cost about $4. If they work well it will be awesome! Planning on using them this weekend post a wedding celebration. @mattiekahn:disqus

  • Beauty Groomers

    One of the finest of write-ups there is on the internet today. Kudos to
    the author for being so well informed. I must give it to their presence of mind
    and the selection of words. This couldn’t have been written in a much beautiful
    way. Keep it up. Good on you.

    Tips for MAkeup