There is a moment in Netflix’s Beckham documentary series when daughter Harper is applying skincare to her dad, David, and in a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment, she mists him with Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir. Similarly, when Drake posted a “get unready with me” reel to Instagram in January, the French brand’s hydrating mist was part of the singer’s skincare routine after a late-night swim, a cold plunge and a shower. Both the Beckhams and Drake are clearly fans of the multi-purpose mist: A few spritzes not only refresh the complexion, giving it an immediate glow, but also tone the skin, minimize pores and set makeup.

 

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“My teenagers were very impressed,” says founder Mathilde Thomas about the fact that Drake helped create a viral moment for the brand she and her husband run. Launched in 1997, the mist is made using a formula based on a 17th-century recipe. “It was a blend of rosemary, mint, orange blossom, rose, myrrh, benzoin, potassium alum and water,” says Thomas. As the legend goes, it was used by Queen Isabelle of Hungary, who, despite being 72 years old, received a marriage proposal from the 33-year-old prince of Poland because she looked younger. Thomas learned of this mist from Dr. Bernard Hertzog, a specialist in aesthetic medicine, in Paris. “He was using this recipe in his office, and he told me: ‘Mathilde, this is a fantastic product. You should sell it.’” She listened, and after she added some grape extracts to the Caudalie version “for glow,” Beauty Elixir was born.

CAUDALIE BEAUTY ELIXIR, from $27

CAUDALIE BEAUTY ELIXIR, from $27Caudalie

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In France, though, where the pharmacy is where beauty shopping is primarily done, the mist didn’t quite land. “It was the wrong place for it,” says Thomas. “They are used to selling anti-dark-spot products, sunscreen, anti-acne products—skin-problem solvers. So I don’t think pharmacists would ever get this product.” (It did sell to a very elite clientele, but it was never a bestseller.) It was French beauty editors who started talking it up and then makeup artists who used it on their celebrity clientele. By the early 2000s, both Madonna and Victoria Beckham had publicly praised it and it started taking off in North America. The Victoria Beckham moment was a big surprise, and the brand partnered with the designer to provide bottles of Beauty Elixir at her London fashion show about a decade ago.

Fashion designer Jason Wu became a loyal client of Caudalie’s spa at New York City’s Plaza Hotel; that resulted in a collaboration when Thomas asked him if he would draw an illustration for a limited-edition bottle. He accepted, and the bottle came out in 2015. Two years later, a partnership was formed with model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for the product’s 20th anniversary; she had become a fan after discovering it at a fashion show, and she was tapped to be the ambassador for a limited-edition gold bottle.

Though the product has seen 13 generations of packaging, the formula has remained unchanged and continues to maintain a steady fan base. “It is unique,” says Thomas. “Every other product that we launch that becomes a cult product has its own patents, usually with Harvard Medical School [and] with years of research [behind it].” She adds that there are posters documenting the before and afters of clinical studies. Beauty Elixir is also one of those products that can be confusing on sight; it has oils that collect around the top of the bottle, which makes some customers wonder if it’s old. “It’s just because I didn’t want to put any emulsifier in the formula,” says Thomas. “And I wanted it to be 100 percent natural, so you need to shake it.” Regardless, its ability to prep the skin for makeup and/or set it afterwards or simply to refresh the skin as well as the mind when stealing a moment to have a spritz is why it’s a product that perseveres. “This one is something else.”