I’ve always felt that French beauty defied time and fashion trends. It is natural but educated. Striking, yet simple. When I got the opportunity to live in France for 18 months (in the early 2000s), my curiosity about French beauty was even more enthusiastic.
So there I was in my mid-20s, trading my high school French lessons for another type of French study: figuring out what’s behind the women’s confident allure and “je ne sais quoi.”
Where does it come from, and how can I get some, I wanted to know.
Before my stay in Paris, I thought beauty was either something you were born with (and would eventually lose) or it came from a makeup kit and a jar. The French women I studied taught me otherwise and gave me an education into true French beauty.
First, I was to learn…
They like to reach for a bottle!
Be it a bottle of water, perfume or wine.
French women are in love with water, which is partly responsible for their natural glow. Water helps to keep their skin looking hydrated and fabulous — even as they age. And while they are big on skincare and creams, it’s natural sources of hydration that they rely on most; they avoid the sun, eat well, and drink lots of H2O.
My French friend, Laura says it’s a tradition for French women to choose a signature fragrance by the time they are 30 and wear it until they are in their 60s and beyond. Could it have a little something to do with that strong sense of confidence they exude? After a trip to the perfume-making town of Grasse, on the Cote D’Azur I decided it might just be because I fell in love with a scent from href=”http://www.fragonard.com”>Fragonard and have since come to appreciate the power of fragrance.
Spend time around the French and you grow to respect how much they enjoy life. I’m sure their affinity for red wine doesn’t hurt, and we know its antioxidant properties does great things for our skin. Oui, je aurai un verre. Merci! (Translation: Yes, I’ll have a glass. Thanks!)
They are diligent about skincare
Their skincare rules are simple, but very strict, and focuses on prevention.
- Minimum sun exposure. Their tans usually come from a tube and when in the sun, they religiously use sunscreen and pop pre-sun pills that contain carotenoids, selenium, and antioxidants. The pills speed up melanocyte production for a quicker tan.
- Be about the water. French women love water as I’ve mentioned and it factors prominently in their skincare regimens too. They will spritz floral and thermal waters on their faces after cleansing, which remove residue that calcium and chlorine tap water leaves behind while softening skin and prepping it to absorb products better. Melvita makes great floral waters including the Softening – Orange Blossom.
- Makeup is not a must, but makeup removal is! French skincare routines involve cleansing milk, toner (or floral water) and moisturizing cream.
- Moisturize, moisturize. Yes, they are fanatical about it.I’ve fallen in love with Premier Cru The Cream from Caudalie, the French skincare company that makes products from grapes. They say it’s the secret for a divinely natural complexion, and I’m inclined to agree.
Their fashion is timeless and effortless
When it comes to fashion, French women embrace the classics, minimalism, and good taste:
- Their perspective on fashion is that it’s much more important to wear what you feel good in than to follow every trend. They go for chic classic clothing, which they frequently set off with red lipstick, a scarf, and shades.
- French women focus on simple clothing and don’t believe they need the flashiest clothes to look great. Here the minimalist’s credo rules: Less is more.
- Don’t get the wrong impression with the “less is more” outlook, they are definitely not about showing skin everywhere. Instead, they focus on one key area and keep the focus there… showing shoulders, legs, a little cleavage; but NEVER all at once.
But their best-kept secret I believe is… their attitude!
They embrace who they are
From my French beauty education, this is what I’ve learned (or at least taken to heart): Embrace who you are and your imperfections. That includes tousled hair, imperfect teeth, and beauty marks. But above all, don’t give a damn what other people think of you.
The wonderful French women and friends I’ve known have taught me that women are truly beautiful when they believe in themselves and reject self-comparisons, conformity, and copy.
Another noticeable French attitude is how they embrace life. It’s because of their healthy outlook on life and their emphasis on living well, I believe, that they’re able to carry themselves with such confidence, and what many see as an air of indifference.
And this, it turned out, to be the French education I was to be most grateful for. I’m so happy I got the chance to live there and spend time with the women I did. I hope I always remember to embrace life, because today, it’s what I count as my favorite French beauty tip.