French beauty is a category in itself. A much-coveted yet elusive concept, women all over the world look to the French for their unique way of treating their skin and hair; the French woman’s effortless aesthetic is something many of us secretly wish to emulate.
The more we look to French influence as a lifestyle guide, the more it becomes clear that one thing separates us: Motive. Whether we’re talking parenting, cooking, or beauty, the French come from a place of simplicity whereas we tend to over-complicate.
Six people have showed up at my door unplanned? A crusty loaf and wedge of cheese will do. The kid wants a snack at 5 p.m. just before dinner? Fine. And as for a skin care routine? We reveal the secrets behind the effortless gorgeousness of French women, to give you some offbeat beauty inspiration.
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01. Treatments first, makeup second
The central thing to French beauty, is a great skincare routine. The french always invest in good treatments, and are firm believers in spas and salons, to get great natural skin and hair, instead of buying tons of makeup. Feeling a little lacklustre? They are more likely to opt for a skin lifting facial like Divine Uplift than their instagram filter.
Not only is this a great idea because looking good should be about feeling good inside and outside, but also because it requires less effort to care for good skin than having to conceal poor skin by applying layers of makeup everyday. Dull skin? Nothing beats a radiance-inducing laser such as BB Aquatouch. Melasma? Forget heavy coverage; Pico Pigment laser is the answer.Moreover, in the long run, skin issues aside, this constant attention and investment to their skin (instead of makeup) seems to help them age gracefully over time.
French women do not use litres of foundation to conceal blemishes or cover their face. They do, however, prep skin well. This means taking your time to remove makeup gently, cleansing the skin, patting in toners and massaging in serums into skin till it has that lit-from-within glow, creating a smooth and even base for whatever you are about to put on. A firm believer of using thermal waters on their skin instead of tap water, the French luxuriates their skin in only the best. This explains the plethora of facial mists using thermal spring waters such as Rose Ginseng facial mist which the French use to keep their all-day glow.
A recent innovation to the facial waters category is micellar water found in Reset, a miracle water with skin hydrating micelles, perfect for giving French women the dewy skin finish so coveted by many.
02. Au naturel
It is, perhaps, a part of French sexiness to be comfortable enough in your own skin to forego foundation. Au naturel is the way to go for them. But the question is: how c ome they do ‘au naturel’ so much better than the rest of the world?
The French believe in ensuring that makeup looks natural. They are not people who contour skin till cheekbones look sharp enough to cut glass. (are you listening, Kim?)
Yet you won’t catch a chic Parisien looking dowdy and tired. On top of their meticulous care, the French are savvy enough to incorporate nifty little tricks from aesthetic doctors such as Pore Perfection Program. Having great skin means that the French can leave the house with a quick dab of blusher. A slight hint of colour on the cheeks gives the face a natural flush, while adding definition.
French women do sparingly use a light dusting of bronzer to add a glow, but most of the time, they are all about accentuating the glow that is already present, for a brighter look. For them, staying away from things which alters their appearance drastically is crucial. Makeup, for them, is a tool to help them look fresher, but still look like themselves.
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03. Pick a feature to accentuate
French women do not go for a fully-contoured face, coupled with bright lips and smokey eyes. They focus on one feature. This is because they treat a red lip or a set of smokey eyes like an accessory in itself. Imagine this: a heavily contoured face may look good in low light conditions and with a heavy hand on your instagram filters, but in the bright light of the day, it will only make you look ghastly and over-made up.
We have all been in a position when we have created the perfect smokey eyes, and paired it with an immaculate red lip. But, no one has noticed how perfect either of those things are, because both prevent the other from being highlighted, making the whole thing seem useless. The sexiness of your tousled mane will get no attention if you pair it with smokey eyes and red lips, and a hairband. Worn alone though, it will grab more eyeballs, as it is the central feature.
This is why picking a particular feature to highlight, is sensible. It prevents your features from overwhelming your overall look. French women often go for a cat-eye flick and leave everything else bare. Or just red lipstick on a bare face.
The sharp sexiness of that then, is stark and obvious. This is because they do not treat each individual part of their look as another step in creating a new face with cosmetics. They treat each red lip or flick of eyeliner as an individual statement.
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04. Be dishevelled but polished
You won’t see French women go the Instagram smokey-eyes way and give everything neat, defined edges with piles of concealer. When a French woman does smokey eyes, she really commits to the dishevelled rockstar look by messing up the edges a little.
When she wears red lipstick, she dabs some off with her finger, so that the stain left makes the lips look like they have just been kissed.
The idea is to go for a look which is compatible with the idea of a woman having a life, and not being obsessed with having her makeup stay put.
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05. Don’t try too hard
To the French girl, Less is more. Shunning puffy, rigid blowouts, tight curls, or super-sleek hair, they prefer to exude a somewhat ‘fuss-free’ yet stylish demeanor. It is paramount that their entire look does not look overtly put together.
Even when the French discreetly opt for anti-wrinkle remedies such as botulinum toxin, they prefer a natural effect, rather than a expressionless endpoint. “My French patients are very particular about looking natural. When they come in for Botox, they want to look fresher after, not completely line-free” says Dr Kenneth Lee, medical director of SW1 Clinic. “In fact, it’s a fail if anyone notices they’ve had anything done”.
Even if they put in a lot of effort, seeming like they just threw a look together, is very important to them. Excessively coiffed hairdos or makeup looks hide one’s personality and make one seem too archetypal. So it is a misconception that they do not put effort into their looks and grooming, if anything, it’s the opposite. But the end result they project is one of ‘laissez faire’ effortlessness. That is the stroke of mastery only French girls can achieve.