Italian Girl vs. French Girl Beauty: Our Writer Puts Both to the Test

Updated 04/17/19
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French girls have reigned beauty supreme for so long now, we can't quite remember when the obsession began. On Byrdie we've dedicated countless stories, product trials, hair how-tos, skincare recommendations, and even fragrance picks to chase that effortless brand of cool. But this year we noticed another trend emerging from France's highly romantic neighbor, Italy—feline beauty. Super skin and that trademark cat-eye. All of the yes. The question is whether this Sicilian-inspired look—one Dolce & Gabanna has championed for years—will take hold as its French counterpart did.

Is this a beauty moment or movement?

We decided the only way to answer that question was with our very own trial. We enlisted makeup artist Jasmin Lo to transform Byrdie Australia's very own Emily into a beautiful Italian girl and a très cool French girl. Full disclosure: she's half Canadian, half Australian. Read on to see the results but one thing is for sure—it's all about a statement eye-and-lashes combo.

Below Lo details her tips to recreate each look at home, and Emily chooses her favorite. 

Italian Beauty

Italian Girl Beauty Makeup Look
Sevak Bebakhani

Fashion credits: Realisation Par dress, Ellery earrings.

Skin: You want bouncy, healthy-looking skin here with a nice flush on the cheeks—avoid harsh contours, and instead opt for a peachy cheek tint or cream blush.

Eyes: "Brows are super important here, think Sophia Loren, Monica Belluci, Bianca Balti," says Lo. Fill in any gaps to create a full, bold brow that still follows your natural shape.

The Italian beauty statement is a super feminine winged eye. Lo first covered the lid in a wash of sheer rose gold eyeshadow, then used a liquid pen liner to draw a dramatic wing. "Finish with two coats of mascara on the top lashes only. Nothing goes on the bottom for this look," she explains. "It's all about fluttery, long lashes and a flirty winged eye." Apply the first coat of mascara as normal, then use the short silicone bristles on the Estee Lauder Lash Multi-Effects ($50) brush to create length and separation for that fluttery effect.

Lip: Choose a color ever-so-slightly deeper than your natural lip, with a touch of balm patted on top with your finger.

"I loved the incredible winged eyeliner. It was flawless and dramatic but pared with the fresh skin and nude lip I didn’t feel overdone. Overall, the look made me feel confident and quite sultry—I was channeling my inner Sophia Loren."—Emily

French Beauty

French Girl Beauty Makeup Look
Sevak Bebakhani

Fashion credits: Thierry Colson top, model's own jeans.

Skin: Surely this must be one of the most-practiced looks in every fashion girl's repertoire. Not that we need to tell you twice, but the key here is to look like you didn't try at all—even if it really took ages—for a chic, lived-in look. A matte foundation will let you create some angles with a very light touch of contouring powder.

Eyes: On the eyes, Lo used a cool brown eyeshadow on the lid, then smudged dark brown kohl into the top and bottom lash lines. Her tip: "Push it around with a small brush, cotton tip or your ring finger. Apply mascara to the top and bottom, mainly concentrating on the roots for volume rather than length," says Lo. Products with a creamy, buildable formula, like the Lash Multi-Effects mascara, will get the best results for this look, adding some serious bulk to your lashes. "At the end, I took some moisturizer and lightly tapped it onto the lid to create a glossy feel." 

The aim is for it to look like last night's eye makeup, even though we highly recommend you remove your makeup before going to sleep. The French girl is all about a lived-in aesthetic.

Lip: Keep the classic French red lip looking undone by blotting the color on, rather than apply the lipstick directly. 

"This look was my favorite, which is strange as I’m normally averse to anything matte. The blurred lip and smudged eye were all kinds of perfect—I felt cool and grungy, but still chic."—Emily

Photography: Sevak Bebakhani. Hair & Makeup: Jasmin Lo. Styling: Amanda Stavropoulos. Creative Direction: Crystal Andrews. Talent: Emily Algar.

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