French women put a lot of effort into their skin, but when it coms to hair and makeup, it’s all about not looking like you’ve tried. Tousled hair, a bit of definition on the eyes and a slick of lipstick is de riguer. It’s no coincidence that most of the words we use to describe that cool, relaxed style are actually French – think “insouciant”, “nonchalant” and “laissez-faire” (which translates to “let it be”)… Funnily enough I interviewed one of Paris’s top hairdressers (who happens to be an Aussie) David Mallet the other day and he mirrored this sentiment exactly. He said “They like to look like they don’t care- but they really really do…” Everything is considered but nothing looks like it is.
Perhaps on a whole, as a nation, yes, but many Australian women are pretty cluey about their skin care these days. French women are taught the basics of skincare from a young age, they are generally happy to invest in their beauty products and facials are considered essential BUT they’re not as good at protecting their skin from the sun as Aussies. They love to sunbake – in fact it’s virtually impossible to get a decent spray tan in Paris (trust me, I’ve tried!)
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I think we could take a lesson from their ‘undone’ approach to hair and makeup – sometimes it’s nice to leave the contouring and fake lashes out and embrace the beauty of clear, flawless skin and a simple slick of lipstick.
Quality and heritage. Many of the French beauty houses have been around for decades and have elite teams of scientists to hone their formulas and packaging. There’s also often a certain fragrance and texture to French brands, too – it’s more floral and luxurious. French creams are not afraid to be heavy and unctuous.
Perfume is just a non-negotiable to French women. Coco Chanel once said “A Woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future,” which is very dramatic, but kind of sums up the attitude a bit! It’s so ingrained in French culture – it’s a true love affair. Australians love perfume too, but it’s often a more casual and capricious flirtation.
Add texture to your hair with dry shampoo and hair powders, go easy on the foundation (only use it where needed) and always define the eye. I like to use a dark brown eyeshadow with an angle brush instead of eyeliner as it’s softer but still emphasizes the eyes. And never forget your lipstick. It’s essential!
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How much money they spend on “slimming” and cellulite creams! They also hate the gym, but they do walk a lot (particularly if they live in Paris).
Organised chaos! They usually tidy and do an edit of their favourites for my arrival, but there’s always a drawer or cabinet that is crammed with products they don’t use, too. It’s reassuring to know that almost every woman is alike when it comes to amassing a gargantuan collection of cosmetics.
Curling your eyelashes. Makes such an incredible difference to your eye, but it’s a step so many women skip!
A facial at L’institute Lancome, a haircut with David Mallet and a wander through some of the perfumeries including Diptyque in the 5th Arondissement, Annick Goutal in the 6th and Editions De Parfums de Frederic Malle in the 7th. Oh and it’s not a beauty must-do, per-se but you have to try the galettes at Cafe Breizh.
Garance Dore always, @louisefollain (she’s like the new Jane Birkin) @marieangecasta and @louloubianca (those brows!)