Tousled hair, airbrushed skin, long lashes—all features that come to mind when we picture the modern French woman. What is it about a French woman’s certain je ne sais quoi that makes her beauty seem so effortless, yet completely refined? To get to the bottom of this mystery, we polled some of our favorite French bloggers and asked them to spill their best-kept beauty secrets. Keep reading to find out what they said.
Micellar Water Is Your Friend
While we love a good multi-step skincare routine, the French women we spoke to prefer to keep pair things simple. Model Louise Follain ditches cleanser first thing in the morning in favor of a micellar solution or just plain water. "In the morning, I clean my face with fresh water and use a toner," she says.
“My secret is to never splash water on my face—it’s too aggressive for [my] skin," adds Paris-based creator Labériane Ponton. "I remove my makeup with Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution, then follow with Avéne Thermal Spring Water ($14) instead."
Keep Your Hands Off Your Face
To be clear: Everyone should steer clear of touching their face since the bacteria from your hands will do no favors for your skin. But when you're living in a big city like Paris, just how much dirt and grime you're encountering is even more obvious.
“Don't touch your face, and wash your hands every time you can!" says Typhaine Augusto. "In Paris, your hands get dirty really quickly, as you're holding yourself in the subway and things like that. When I first started living here, I used to have bad acne because I was touching my face without reason, like a stress thing or something. While it was okay in the country, in Paris, it's just a big no-no.”
Focus On One Feature
When it comes to makeup, choose one feature that you'd like to highlight and make that the focus. It could be a red lip or kohl-lined eyes. “Be a makeup minimalist," advises Adrienne Coléon Gaskell of Oh So French. "Choose one feature to emphasize, and keep the rest of your makeup to a minimum."
"For example, highlight your eyes with a sweep of eyeliner and mascara, but keep your skin and lips bare," she continues. "I also think there’s something very seductive about a woman with bare skin, a hint of mascara, and a bold lip color. It shows that you are comfortable in your own skin."
And this directive extends all the way to your toes—literally. “During summer, all the fun goes on my toes," says Aurélia of Absolutely Glamorous. "As my pedicures get more colorful, my manicures remain very neutral. It’s a balance."
Take Your Sun Care Very Seriously
You know Team Byrdie will never miss an opportunity to remind you to protect your skin from the sun, and this directive holds just as strong across the Atlantic. “My beauty secret is to always moisturize my skin properly and avoid exposing it the sun," says Tokyobanhbao of The World Of Tokyobanhbao. "I always put a SPF 50+ sunblock on and wear a hat, or bring an umbrella with me—it may be quite extreme, but I think it's the best way for my skin to stay healthier and younger.”
Spend Time Away From Your Hairbrush
Getting a French-girl mane is really about what not to do. To get that highly-coveted, bedhead look, brush as little as possible and allow your hair to air dry naturally after you shampoo. “I brush my hair before I shampoo, let it dry naturally, and never use a brush until the next shampoo," says Aurélia. "It gives a very natural wavy movement.”
Despite this lax approach to haircare, French women do note that laziness and healthy hair are not mutually exclusive. The real trick is finding the perfect leave-in treatment that will allow you to embrace your lived-in texture. (The No. 6 Bond Smoother Reparative Styling Creme by Olaplex, $28, is très bien.)
Scout For Drugstore Beauty Buys
From Embryolisse and La Roche-Posay to Bioderma and Klorane, France does drugstore beauty better than anyone else. “I use Avène's Cleansing Gel every morning and night to keep my complexion clear," says Audrey Rogers of Audrey Leighton. "Avène is a French beauty staple—and the one I only really discovered when I moved to Paris. It’s truly an amazing brand.”
Find Multiple Ways To Use Your Favorite Product
Naturally, if you're taking a streamlined approach to skincare, makeup, and hair, you're going to gravitate towards products that streamline your product arsenal, too. "My favorite product is argan oil," says Kenza Sadoun-el Glaoui of Le Revue De Kenza. "I brought it from Morocco and I regularly apply it on the lengths of my hair, several hours before I shampoo. In winter, when I have dry skin, I also like to mix it with my face cream or apply it on my feet and wear a pair of socks at night. It moisturizes so well.”
Build a Fragrance Wardrobe
The French are famous for their timeless fashion staples, but many chic Parisians are equally committed to building a wardrobe of fragrances. “Each morning, I choose my perfume much like I do my lingerie, based on what I’m doing that day, what I’m wearing, my mood, and the season," says Coléon Gaskell. "Spritz it on before getting dressed and you’ll have a soft halo of fragrance that makes a subtle, sensual statement.”