'I studied acting at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts when I moved to New York. I was 19. I was born in Detroit, where my dad’s family is from—he’s French-American and my mother French, but I only lived there for two years before we moved to Paris, where I live now. My first year in school in New York was hard—it slapped me in the face. [Laughs]
When I started getting booked for job after job in Paris, I had to make the move back. And coming back after so long made me unconsciously change the way I put myself together. I think it was about reconnecting with myself, my family and my history. I didn’t want to impose myself. I needed to start from scratch. Wearing make up here felt like I was lying to myself. The look in Paris is more classic, anyway. When I first moved to New York, it was pleasure to wear some lipstick or blush—you’re playing, being many different women. Wearing dark matte red lipstick puts me in this mood—it’s a feeling, an emotion. It made me feel powerful. You take more risks in New York, and listen to yourself more; you dress up because it’s pure fun. There’s a real exchange on the street in terms of beauty—people are really enjoying what you’re wearing and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a very unique vibe and totally different than in Paris.
I got back to basics here, even with skincare. There are three products that you should always have in your house : jojoba oil, honey, and lemon. Honey face masks feed and smooth out your skin; it’s antibacterial and balances your pH. And I will do lemon peeling once in a while—apply it on a cotton pad and wash it off with cold water after a couple minutes—and finish with an Evian facial spray. I use Melvita Floral Water sometimes, too. I put it on cotton balls, apply in on my eyes, lay down and breathe...
Now I don’t put on any cream. Instead, I use oil—borage, jojoba, and argan. Borage is a really good plant for cell renewal and wrinkles. You can use it as a food complement, too. I just like how it feels and it’s good for you. I always use sun-protection cream for the face. I also do yoga here, which, like any sport, is good for the skin. That's my normal regimen, but when I'm filming and my skin get upset from the makeup, I use Egyptian Magic Cream on my face, hands, and hair. Of course what I eat affects my skin, too. I drink a lot of herbal tea and mineral water—there’s a lot of potassium and magnesium in it. And I eat fish—I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m getting there—I just love fish too much. Naps are good, too! [Laughs] I wish I could take them every day... Just take time for yourself and meditate. Life is too crazy.
For fragrance, I have been using amber rocks since I was 17. I crush them, and smell them if I just want to relax. It’s part of my life—I always have one on me. I get them from my friends whenever they go to Marrakesh—they get it from this three-story spice store in the Medina. And I just got Roger and Gallet Jean spray, which smells really good.
Another thing that I got from visiting northern African countries is the practice of going to a Hamam regularly. It’s the best treat you can give your body and mind. The best way to do it is to get a black soap scrub and finish with a massage and mint tea...
We’re starting to get more nail bars in Paris—the French are Americanizing. But I usually do it myself—Chanel Beige Petale[Ed. note : shade discontinued], or a super dark blue.”
—as told to ITG
Helene Kuhn photographed by Emily Weiss in Paris, France on September 29, 2013.