From the cobblestone streets of Paris to the sun-drenched beaches of Saint-Tropez, French women have long been admired for their effortlessly chic hair. Whether their tresses are straight, tousled, curled or pulled back in a sleek bun - there's a special je ne sais quoi that draws us all in. So, how do they do it? The "I didn't try but still look great" hair may seem elusive and difficult to replicate, but it's not as unattainable as it appears. Beauticate writer Kristina investigated the secrets behind perfectly imperfect French girl hair and unearthed these six tried-and-trusted French hair hacks and tools that will help you achieve tresses that look sophisticated, elegant and nonchalantly cool.  

  1. French Elixir: White Vinegar Rinse

There’s an age-old remedy that has been passed down through French generations: the white vinegar rinse. Sophie Georgiou, a French hairstylist based in New York City recommends diluting three drops of white vinegar with cold water, and applying it after conditioning your hair. Massage it evenly from your roots to the ends of your hair, let it sit for a few minutes and rinse thoroughly. “It’s our oldest and best trick,” Sophie says. The vinegar helps restore the hair’s natural pH balance, close hair cuticles, and fill in porous hair (i.e. hair that can’t hold onto moisture) resulting in smoother, shinier and more hydrated locks. “Vinegar is antibacterial, keeps your scalp clean, closes the cuticle of your hair and enhances the shine,” says famed hairstylist Christopher Robin. According to Robin, it’s a treatment revered by many French cinema icons such as Catherine Deneuve, to ensure their locks stay luminous.


2. DIY Sea Salt Spray: Effortless Beach Waves

Master the art of achieving enviable beach waves without the ocean breeze. Enter the sea salt spray—an essential tool for effortless texture and volume. Mix one tablespoon of sea salt with a cup of water, add a few drops of your favorite hair oil, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, mist onto damp hair and then scrunch your hair all over for a lived-in, textured look. Jeanne Damas, the creative director of cult French fashion and beauty label, Rouje, says she loves to scrunch her hair and let it dry with a diffuser.The result? Effortlessly tousled waves that evoke memories of sun-drenched days by the Côte d’Azur.

Source: Gaala Paris

3. Effortlessly Straight Hair Without a Hair Straightener

French women tend to eschew hair straighteners, for fear of the dreaded poker-straight hair that looks too done. “French women don’t use straightening irons. Their ideal look is full and bouncy — never flat,” says David Mallett, acclaimed Parisian hairstylist to the stars. However, that isn’t to say straighter hairstyles are never worn! The difference is, when they wear straight locks it’s filled with body and oomph – picture a full blow out that’s airy, soft and straight in the “I-woke-up-like this” kind of way. The key secret? Using a good hot air brush to straighten the hair instead of a straightener, and following some expert-approved tips.

  1. Divide your hair into neat sections, working from the bottom up. This organised approach ensures each strand receives proper attention, resulting in sleek, straight locks.
  2. Hold the hot air brush taut as you glide it through your hair. The slight tension helps to smooth out any kinks or waves, leaving you with a flawlessly straight finish.
  3. Place the brush under your hair (e.g. the inner most layer), starting just a few centimetres away from the roots. Wrap portions of your around the hot air brush, gently gliding it downwards. Afterwards, switch to the cool air setting and simply run the brush under the inside layer of your hair, as though you were using a regular brush (don’t wrap your hair around it this time). The cool air helps set the straight hair and adds the final polish.
  4. To give your roots an extra boost of volume, concentrate the hot air from the brush at the roots while lifting your hair gently with your fingers.

How to select a good hot air brush: Not all hot air brushes are created equal. Look for a product that has a tourmaline/ceramic coated barrel as this material helps maximise smoothness. A product I can personally recommend is the Silver Bullet Platinum Hot Air Brush. It helps reduce frizz, imparts a lovely luminosity and gloss, makes the texture of my hair more manageable and easily detangles knots. This tool is particularly perfect for recreating the french-girl straight hair, because it completely smooths the hair without ever leaving it limp. On a side note, there is 3 heat/speed settings and even the lowest setting dried my wet hair incredibly fast.

Source: Instagram @feli.airt

4. Iconic French Hair Care Ritual & Products

French hairstylist, Christophe Robin, says the formula to achieving tousled hair that looks chic as opposed to shabby is ensuring your locks are in excellent condition. French women believe hair care is just as (if not more) important as hair styling – because soft locks provide a great foundation for any hairstyle. To ensure hair is clean, but still has some grit and texture, it is recommended to only shampoo 3 or 4 times a week maximum. Whilst conditioning is vital to hydrate the locks – too much conditioner can also weigh the hair down. So, Christophe Robin, says many of his clients reduce hydrating treatments to once or twice a week. In particular, some of his clients undergo an intense nourishing hair ritual which involves applying hair oil overnight (sleeping with a shower cap), then rinsing the product out in the morning and following up with a hair mask for a few minutes. After rinsing, the preference is to spritz a protective spray at the ends of the hair for extra softness. According to Robin, this at-home ritual usually only occurs once a week on the weekend. The treatment generally leaves the hair looks luscious for the week ahead, so they can truly be a little “lazy” with hair prep during the week.

Below are some iconic French hair care products that you can find in almost every French woman’s bathroom.

  1. Kérastase Elixir Ultime: Whilst Kérastase are known for their superhero hair care products, this specific line has earned national accolades for its ability to salvage fried tresses. The mask is a favourite to minimise frizz, enhance shine and strengthen hair. Infused with a blend of camellia, argan, maize, and pracaxi oils – it’s definitely nourishing, so use sparingly and never apply to the roots.
  2. Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt: The cult-favorite Christophe Robin Scrub features sea salt, a natural exfoliant that helps remove impurities and product buildup from the scalp. This stimulates circulation and promotes healthier hair growth. Chamomile extract soothes the scalp, reducing inflammation and irritation.
  3. Leonor Greyl Huile de Palme: Renowned for its restorative properties this pre-shampoo treatment features a blend of sesame oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and omega 3s to protect the hair against damage and revitalise dehydrated locks. This mask is considered a heavy lifter that you apply for 10 minutes on dry hair before showering to maximise the performance of your shampoo and conditioner.
  4. Phyto Phytophanère Dietary Supplement: Embracing a holistic beauty routine, these supplements are one of France’s best-selling products to nourish the hair from within. They contain a potent blend of vitamin e, biotin, vitamin b6, fatty acids (derived from fish and borage oil), and antioxidants that help protect the hair from free radical damage, improve the texture and prevent dryness.
Source: Instagram @livia_auer

5. Achieving “Perfectly-imperfect” Soft, Romantic Curls

According to French hair stylist, David Mallet, French women, “love curling irons.” But the curls are never too tight, or perfectly prim and set in place. Instead, Christophe Robin muses that they “love sexy, messy hair, and they’re okay with it falling in their faces.”

To achieve the perfectly, imperfect curls that scream sultry, without looking like you tried at all — below are some tried-and-trusted hacks to help you recreate the look with ease.

  1. Before curling, add texturizing spray or sea salt spray to your hair for enhanced grip and a tousled effect. This creates a more lived-in, effortless look that French women adore.
  2. Instead of starting the curl from the ends, begin wrapping your hair around the curling iron midway, leaving the ends free. This technique results in soft, natural-looking curls with a relaxed vibe.
  3. To add volume at the crown, curl the hair closest to the roots in an upward direction. This subtle lift gives your curls that extra boost of height and a touch of French sophistication.
  4. Create organic, S-shaped waves by alternating the direction of each curl. Curl some sections towards the face and others away from the face, mimicking the effortless flow of natural waves.
  5. After curling each section, secure it with a small hair clip or pin. This allows the curls to cool in place and sets them for a longer-lasting, bouncy effect. Once all the curls have cooled, remove the clips and lightly tousle your curls with your fingers.

For soft and loose curls, the magic is not only in the technique, but also the curling iron you use. I’m an avid fan of the curler in the Silver Bullet SuperStar MultiStyle tool because it utilises an advanced ionic generator technology that helps rejuvenate damaged hair, reduce frizz and enhance shine. Having experimented with it for over a month, I can attest that it creates beautiful, cascading curls that always look fresh, bouncy and luminous – my hair never appears dried or fried upon usage. The best part, is its versatility: the all-in-one product is equipped with a hair dryer, hot air brush and two clip on and clip off curling attachments where airflow comes out of different directions (a left directional and right directional – this enables you to easily curl your hair in either direction). Although the curler is my absolute favourite out of the tools, the hair dryer and hot air brush definitely have secured holy grail status too. The hair dryer gives me an immaculately smooth blow dry (think: Pantene television commercial hair) and the hot air brush is excellent at creating long-lasting hairstyles, without the need for much hairspray!

Source: Instagram @livia_auer

6. A Natural Way to Lighten Hair and Add Dimension

France may be home to some of the world’s most elite hair colourists, but some DIY hair lightening recipes still hold gravitas. For those seeking to embrace their inner golden goddess, many French women turn to a chamomile tea rinse. Applying this tea supposedly naturally highlights blonde and light brown hair, infusing it with warm and luminous tones. Brew a strong cup of chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and use it as a final rinse after shampooing. The gentle infusion of chamomile imparts a subtle golden glow, adding depth and radiance to your mane.

Source: Gaala Paris

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Story by Kristina Zhou. Holding shot via livia_auer.

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