There’s something about French women that makes them the absolute envy of everyone else. Their hair is perfectly undone, their skin has a natural glow, and they make it seem like they don’t even try — like they literally rolled out of bed looking amazing. We spoke to some of our favorite French women in the beauty industry to discover their secrets.
1. Give yourself daily facial massages.
Isabelle Bellis, a French celebrity epidermatologist and owner of the Isabelle Bellis spa in New York, says, “French woman are obsessed with face massage to maintain a healthy glow, skin tissue health and relieve facial stress (which leads to problems of stress and elasticity).” Try giving your face a gentle rub as you apply your moisturizer; this will bring blood to the surface of your skin and give you a glow.
2. Lay off the heavy makeup.
“French women don’t wear a lot of foundation or base make–up,” says Bellis. “They prefer bare skin with a touch of lipstick, mascara and blush.”
Caudalíe founder Mathilde Thomas adds, “French women place a greater emphasis on skincare, whereas American women are more into makeup. In France, we would rather spend time repeating multiple steps to ensure that our skin is hydrated and signs of aging are prevented, rather than piling on the latest foundations, highlighters, blushes, etc. Simplicity is key.”
3. Make thermal spray water your friend.
Bellis says, “French women swear by thermal spray water. You don’t want calcium and chlorine (which exists in tap water) to remain on your face and neck areas, which are more fragile than skin on the rest of your body. Furthermore, using thermal spray water softens your skin tissues and allows better penetration of your toners/serums/creams. Your skin will feel less dry.” Perk up your skin midday by misting with a water spray, such as Avène Thermal Spring Water ($16.50, drugstore.com).
Thomas says French women began using mineral water instead of tap water, because the water is so harsh in Paris. “Caudalíe created a 100% Organic Grape Water [$10, caudalie.com], which will moisturize skin 127% and de-sensitize skin by 61%; it is better than any mineral water, because the Grape Water’s sugars works to deeply moisturize the skin.”
4. Don’t wash your face too much.
“A good cleaning in the evening is sufficient, followed by an appropriate toner and serum/evening cream,” says Bellis. “In the morning, just spray thermal water to remove what the skin has liberated during the evening. Follow with an appropriate toner and day serum/cream. Over cleansing actually removes the naturally occurring good elements in your skin’s immune system, which helps fight bacteria and pollution.”
5. Exfoliate less and use more masks.
“French women use masks to repair, calm, regenerate and soften the skin,” says Bellis. “American women tend to exfoliate more, peeling to recreate a new layer of skin. However, in most instances, over-exfoliating damages the fragile nature of the skin, many times damaging capillaries. I am not against exfoliation but advise to exfoliate with care and gentleness. Slow down with the exfoliation and complement/alternate with a good mask.”
6. Spend less time styling your hair.
Caroline Greyl, president of luxe French hair brand Leonor Greyl, says “American women wash their hair almost every day; French women every other day. American women use a lot of styling products [while] French women use more treatment products. A lot of American women use blow dryers [while] French women dry their hair naturally.” Greyl believes one French hair secret that all women should incorporate into their routines is using pre-shampoo oils, like Leonor Greyl Huile de Palme ($52, leonorgreyl-usa.com). Comb the oil into your hair before showering to help detangle and moisturize strands.
7. Drink more wine.
Now this is a tip we can get behind. Thomas says, “The antioxidants are not only good for your body, they also make a difference for your skin. In fact, Caudalíe was created on the premise that all ingredients are created with patented Polyphenol and Resveratrol ingredients derived from the grape and the vine.”