There’s a reason why the French coined the term ‘je ne sais quoi’, because quite simply, sometimes it’s hard to describe how effortlessly beautiful they are.
As the fashion flock settles down in Paris after the last leg of the spring/summer 2017 collections, that age-old question resurfaces: What is it about French women?
The country’s unofficial motto—to bear the torch for a kind of covetable, casual cool that relies heavily on mussed-up hair and minimal makeup—is currently on full display on sunny sidewalk cafes (that is, if Instagram is anything to go by).
The way they dress, their chic hair and their red lips (with not much else) is so synonymous with the ideals of French beauty. In fact, it’s just a few of the elements that have long fostered our admiration.
Want to get that French girl look? Here’s the rules to abide by…
Sure, Bardot and Deneuve might be best remembered for the bold, feline flicks they scrawled onto their upper lash lines, but French women today don’t really use eyeliner. They don’t really wear mascara either. “Red lips are the identity of a Parisian woman,” says Australian-born, Paris-based makeup artist, Jessica Bérullier. “Simple, elegant and classic.” But, Bérullier says it’s how you wear a crimson or scarlet shade that makes it fully French, though. “Red lipstick is a fashion accessory. I recommend wearing red lipstick or a red lip liner all over the lips with clean skin and groomed brows.” Simple. We recommend M.A.C Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Ruby Woo or Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture in #50.
French women prefer to shampoo their hair, air dry, then wait a day. “When you wash your hair the first day, you don’t know what to do with it. The second day, it looks much better,” says Bérullier. “It looks lived in, which is beautiful.” Yes, contouring is dead—there is beauty in the imperfect. Cheat your way to nonchalant-looking hair with a blast of Klorane Dry Shampoo.
Les femmes françaises sont chanceux [that is, French women are lucky] because they have pharmacy beauty brands on tap.
“Bioderma Sensibio H20 and Embryolisse Lait Créme-Concentrate are as common as toothpaste here in France,” says Bérullier. “In France, pharmacies are considered upmarket and widely regarded,” explains Bérullier. After massaging away all of the day’s impurities with Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk—always with your fingertips to increase circulation—and follow with Avene Antirougeurs Fort to remove any redness. As a final step, Bérullier slathers on a gel cream called La-Roche Posay Cicaplast Baum, another French-pharmacy staple. “It helps hydrate and protect your skin from any aggression, like stress and pollution.” Once you’ve nailed your routine, forget foundation – apply concealer only where necessary.