I posted some time ago a list of the top most beautiful French women (according to me), and I think it’s time to talk about French beauty again. It’s a subject in haute pursuit (‘scuse the franglais punned phrase) for many of us non-French women for some time now, probably a couple of centuries, I’d say. It’s true though, so many French women have this sort of inexplicable effortless beauty (to employ an over-used term) that we would all love to imitate. These are the 8 beauty secrets that I believe they have mastered so well, that they make looking beautiful seem easy, or perhaps these 8 golden rules do make it easy after all. You decide…
1. Let’s start with the obvious beauty subject : make-up. Less make-up paired with great skin care. This is one beauty secret where the « less-is-more » adage is actually true. Sure you can do those face altering makeup tutorials you see on YouTube, but the layers of cosmetics required makes my skin suffocate just thinking about all those layers caked on my face. No thanks. A light BB cream, some blush or bronzer depending on the season, a little mascara, eyeliner and brow pencil, gloss, and voilà, good to go. But the actual secret to feeling free enough to wear little to no makeup is a very good skin care regime. The pharmacies here sell incredible French brand skin care lines, that can be worth the extra splurge. But I have found the best cream that costs a fraction of what the fancy brands cost. I use Klorane baby facial lotion. It’s perfect for sensitive skin and a small tube lasts a few months and only costs me around 10€. Win! Keeping it simple also makes skin care and beauty more manageable : Remove make-up, wash your skin, hydrate it, and avoid sun damage with sunblock.
2. Clothes that fit. The secret to looking good at your weight, is to wear clothes that fit your body. No sense in squeezing into a size 6 when you are actually a size 8. You’ll look better, and feel better. The French aren’t afraid of the size label, because who needs to know right! When you wear your size you look more elegant and it’s easier to flatter your « ligne » when the clothes fit.
3. The art of « le brushing ». French women go to the hairdressers on a regular basis, just for a « brushing » or a blow out as they say in America. Getting your hair professionally dried with a good curling brush makes your coiff’ healthy looking, vibrant, full and bouncy all day, sometimes even longer. It gives you a groomed look that is hard to achieve at home. And it is a great psychological boost, as well as a relaxing moment you can take for yourself. It’s good to indulge once in a while to feel pretty. A « brushing » in Paris usually costs from 20-30€. About the same price as a fancy lunch on the town, or a couple little boxes of Ladurée macarons. And I suppose all three of those are great mood boosters!
4. Perfume. The French women always were perfume. It’s part of their outfit. Sometimes, if it’s their « signature scent, » it’s part of who they are. I have a handful of scents that I love, but I have a deep inclination for one in particular, Petite Chérie by Annick Goutal. I even spray it in Bébé Chéri’s little blankie, and he loves it. He sniffs and sniffs his soft cloth with such passion. I know I can now never let go of this scent that he will associate with his mama forever. What is your signature scent? Tell me in the comments below.
5. The less-is-more rule is applied to nail art as well as make-up. Short and natural nails with a very faint gloss, or a discrete « French » manicure is the most common nail art you’ll see on most French women, even with the fad of funky nail colors that is all the rage.
6. Moderation in what you eat and drink. This rule is important for two reasons, not only will you continue to fit in your well sized clothes, but a good diet also helps maintain healthy skin. The French don’t tend to be excessive in what they consume, yet they don’t deprive themselves either. Wine : a glass or two at dinner. Love chocolate? Have a little square with coffee after a meal. Only a little butter in the morning on toast; a small dessert or yogurt after dinner. Less sauce and more vegetables… these are all some of the lifelong diet rules that French women stick to and it helps them remain their ideal weight year after year.
7. So about those well sized clothes. This is also an element of elegance and beauty that the French women master. I have been here for some time now and have found a couple of tried and true secrets to dressing well according to French standards. A lovely jacket can make a very casual outfit suddenly elegant. As in : a pair of jeans and a trendy t-shirt are suddenly office acceptable when a jacket it put over it. Oh and of course a great pair of shoes. I have also learned not to be too « matchy-matchy » in how I dress. Harmonious hues look more elegant than wearing all your accessories in the same color. And no more than three colors to an outfit otherwise it’s too complicated. Have you noticed a trend here in these rules? Simplicity. French women who are conscious of their wardrobe tend to purchase mostly basics and items that are versatile, and then make a limited amount of splurges per season of articles that are a little more daring.
8. And because beauty and elegance is not just an outer layer I am finishing with my eighth rule of beauty : intelligence and confidence. A little smarts and a pinch of confidence can always make you feel fabulous. Reading the news and having a working knowledge of French classics as well as modern culture help you feel in-the-know when conversing with others. And that breeds confidence, which in my opinion is the most important element of beauty. Knowing that you are wonderful as you are and that you have a « je ne sais quoi » about you will help you feel beautiful in spite of your dress size or your hair day.
Stay beautiful my friends!