The beauty landscape has been saturated with French-girl effortlessness for a long time. I actively follow Jeanne Damas to take note of her pouty red lips. I, too, favor bedhead over barrel curls, and I want to sip red wine at a café. But while the Internet has been buzzing over Clémence Poésy, Lou Doillon, and Brigitte Bardot, England’s national treasures have become beauty icons in their own right.
The difference? Both cultures keep things nonchalantly cool, but the attitude is more experimental. When it comes to British beauty, think "girl at the punk show,” not “girl at the café."
Amy Lawrenson, Byrdie UK’s editorial director, weighs in: “Brits are notoriously low-maintenance but also really willing to experiment with different looks. Rock-chick hair is very British thing (think Kate Moss). We love a texturizing spray; we don't really do glossy blow-dries very often. Thanks to Cara [Delevingne], I like to think we own the big brow, but it's a global phenomenon now. Contouring is really popular here for nights out, but you don't see many girls with that full-on polished look every day.”
UK beauty editor Alessandra Steinherr tells The Cut, “Girls in the U.K. don’t necessarily have a signature look; they’re always changing, and it’s totally dependent upon where you are from. The girls here want to be seen as individuals. It’s not about fitting in; it’s about expressing yourself. Look at Vivienne Westwood: Eccentricity here is seen as something positive, yet tradition remains important. Punk started here, but everyone is very proud of the queen.”
Lawrenson expresses a similar sentiment. When asked what the similarities are between her favorite British beauty girls, she mused, “They are the same in that they are all up for experimenting and different in that they all do their own thing! They're all confident to be themselves and show their personality through their hair and makeup choices.”
There you have it. The British beauty mantra is all about breaking down boundaries—and that’s certainly an ethos we can get behind.
To pay homage to the cheeky British spirit, scroll through our collection of the most beloved It Brits and English roses below.
Get her smudged-liner look with Eyeko's Fat Liquid Eyeliner in Black ($18).
Re-create that sexy rock 'n' roll hair with Shu Uemura's Texture Wave Dry Texturizing Spray ($39).
Perfect her bold cat eye with MAC's Fluidline in Backtrack ($17).
Copy those edgy, glossy lids with Glossier's Balm Dotcom ($12).
Score glowing skin like Poppy's with Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer ($62).