• pared-back makeup

    Understatement sits at the very core of French style – the only exception being red lipstick. Foundations and concealers are used, but applied with discipline. “The Parisienne look has a very natural finish,” says the brains behind Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Touche Éclat, French makeup artist Terry de Gunzburg. “I layer hyaluronic [water-based] products to achieve a ‘no makeup’ look. They hydrate and plump skin, and also reduce the lines that give away the signs of a woman’s age.”

    A Spa cures all ills

    Just like owning beautiful lingerie, regular spa visits are considered a national birthright, and the French health system has always offered alternative therapies as an option to treat most maladies. A favorite cure is thalassotherapy: a restorative and mineralizing “taking of the waters”, considered so salubrious that French medical insurance often pays for it if treating a recognized ailment, such as early on-set arthritis.

    a beauty regime isn’t an essential

    In France, there is no pursuit of cookie-cutter perfection; women accept their quirks as an embodiment of personal style. Vanessa Paradis embraced her gap-toothed smile as she sang “Joe Le Taxi”, and she wasn’t the first: look at the iconic statuses

    of Brigitte Bardot and Coco Chanel. Beauty is more robust and real when it’s slightly off-kilter, so make that your biggest French beauty lesson – enhance, don’t hide, the real you.

    keep wrinkles at bay

    Facials are considered a necessary and frequent indulgence – the average French woman has at least one a month. Not just any facial, though; abrasive treatments with unsightly after-effects are avoided, like microdermabrasion and micro-peels. Instead, the focus is on hydration and massage. “My French clients come to see me twice a month,” says top facialist Vaishaly Patel. “They are addicted to the massage, which they swear gives them a natural facelift.” High-tech procedures are now on the increase, says Patel, as long as they’re discreet. “All my French clients have been booking in for anti-aging intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser treatments. There’s no down time, so you can go straight out after. Their friends can tell a difference, but don’t know what they’ve had done.”

    “The AVERAGE French woman has at least one FACIAL every month”

    Klorane Extra-Gentle Dry Shampoo

    This spray-in powder absorbs oil and provides just the right amount of bed-head texture before a big night out. kloraneusa.com

    Vichy Eau Thermale Spray

    Mineral-rich spring water recognized by the French Academy of Medicine for its soothing properties. Spritz for a pick-me-up, or to remove daily grime. vichy.com

    Bioderma Crealine TS H2o Solution Micellaire

    Used backstage during Paris Fashion Week, this gently removes stubborn makeup without drying skin. bioderma.com


    Unlike the US and UK, this Retin-A product is readily available prescription-free and does wonders for fine lines. avibon.com

    Brigitte Bardot’s sexy, smoky eyes are an enduring beauty ideal


    Photograph: Rex Features

  • Archive