French Beauty Can Be High Maintenance, Too


I've been reading a lot about how candid and low-maintenance the French beauty look is. Which is odd, because I'm a French woman, and I can assure you: The French beauty look is not as effortless as it seems. Sure, I love to appear undone as much as anybody else in Paris, but this messy look takes some work! And the hardest part is probably making it look like it didn’t take any time at all. But you know, and I know—nobody just wakes up like that. Before we dig into the real stuff, let me just underline the fact that the tricks I’m about to give you are high maintenance to me, French girl who used to only wear concealer before I hit my mid-20s, so it might not be to you. Or maybe it will. Who knows? Let's find out.

Not blow-drying your hair doesn’t mean that it doesn't require some sort of styling to get that perfect wavy effect. First of all, the hair has to be flawless, and that means masks twice a week and trips to the hairdresser once a month (the hyped Parisian women go to David Mallet) to maintain those frizz-free curtain bangs. After I wash my hair, I use a sculpting cream from Bumble and bumble. I tie it in a bun while it’s still wet and let it dry like that for a while. After that, I untie it and spray some Bumble and bumble Surf Spray on it to keep the waves intact for more than an hour. Probably not the highest maintenance technique on this list—but certainly not without some work.

Skincare is super personal, so I can't speak for everyone. But one thing I have noticed amongst my group of friends as that as we approach 30, we talk about our daily skincare routines more and more. When I was younger (hurts to write that), we never, ever spoke about it. Make of that what you will. Here's what I do: I cleanse my skin in the morning and at night with Bioderma or Kiehl’s. During the day, I use a hydrating serum and pore minimizer cream from Kiehl’s, and at night I use their Midnight Recovery Oil and eye cream. Twice a week I’ll do a hydrating or detox mask depending on what my skin needs, from Glossier or Dior Life. It's not 12 steps twice a day, but it's also not "just cleansing with Bioderma when I remember" either.

You rarely see super made-up girls wandering the streets of Paris. That whole Kylie Jenner contour vibe is not really trendy here. But that doesn't mean we don't have extensive routines, either. This is what my girlfriends and I usually do:

  1. The skin has to be flawless, but without foundation, so I buff concealer under my eyes, around my nose and on my blemishes if I have any.
  2. We do contour, but just with loose powder. I apply it under my cheeks, on my forehead, and on my eyelids.
  3. HIGHLIGHTER is my new passion. Under my brows and on my cheekbones.
  4. Some blush to look fresh, of course.
  5. And last but not least, a touch of dark lipstick that I blend with my finger for a bitten-lip effect.

Oh my, do we pretend to be naturally skinny! Let everyone be reassured, no women on earth (except some rare lucky aliens) past the age of 25 can eat camembert and drink red wine every day without gaining weight. While it’s true that the Parisians are probably less into all that healthy stuff than New Yorkers (or is that a cliché?), we still take care of our figures by eating healthy and working out—running and cycling have been particularly trendy in Paris for a few years. You can also see organic food stores popping at every corner, and it’s not at all rare to come across a woman in leggings holding a green juice of some sorts. Seems like Paris is slowly mutating into New York? "A healthy mind is a healthy body," they said.

—Sabina Socol

Photo via ITG.

Next up, see how the French beat acne.