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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Story by Kristina Zhou. Holding shot via livia_auer.