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French Girl Beauty Secrets: 11 Tips To Look Parisian Pretty

by Teddi Ginsberg Published on 25 June 2014
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Have you ever noticed how effortlessly beautiful French girls are? With their glossy hair, perfectly clear skin and beautiful figures they ooze confidence. But just how do they do it?

French girls are beautiful in a way that is both effortless and mysterious, which leaves us - as well as green with envy!- also wondering just how do they always manage to look so healthy and happy? AND make it look like it was no work at all? Well wonder no more, cos we've done all the hard work and dug around for answers.

​Here are 11 tips for achieving that effortless "Parisian Pretty" look. French girls have the best beauty secrets!

1. French girls are careful in the sun

French girls know that sunbathing is dangerous. They love their Vitamin D, but they certainly don't get it by basking in the rays.

"Apart from a Riviera-bronze fixation in the 1960s and 1970s, French women are not sun-worshipping lizards," Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat, says. "Today they are much more likely to apply their tan from a tube or bottle than from a month at St. Tropez."

Forget about that overly bronzed look though, for French girls a natural sun-kissed glow is always their first choice. Think gradual tan moisturiser rather than a full-on fake effect. Subtle is the key to everything when it comes to French girl chic.

2. French girls are not workout-obsessed

British women often feel pressure to look a certain way, thanks in large part, to the entertainment industry. Media scrutiny sets unrealistic standards when it comes to our physical appearance. Women in France have a more laissez-faire attitude toward this movement in general.

According to Mireille, French girls do not care for indoor workouts. “A French woman would not do it if it were boring," she says. "That’s why you don’t see many of them in the gym — because they think it is like torture. We are not born for this kind of exercise routine.”

Instead, French girls try to walk more, so that exercise falls into other activities seamlessly, or they choose an event that they truly enjoy. Mirelle says water aerobic classes are quite popular. "It's higher-impact and people are having fun, which is important because that pleasure factor is always a big consideration."

Of course, for French girls, pleasure always comes first. We can definitely take that on board!

3. French girls love water

In Mireille's French Woman's Manifesto, she says, "French women drink water all day long."

In France, water is regarded like royalty: it's a beverage, a beauty product, a skin enhancer, you name it. Perhaps we should stop taking this resource for granted?

France is famous for its many mineral water springs and the benefits of water are often harnessed in beauty products. French women definitely take an inside out approach with this beauty ingredient of choice.

Brands like Vichy and Avène which use mineral water in their formulations, can be found in every French girl's beauty arsenal.

"Water is the real source of life for your skin, and when you drink enough (and I mean clear water, no sodas!), your skin will be healthy and glowing from the inside out," Ivana from French inspired blog Macarons and Pearls says.

But water is not just for drinking, she goes on to explain. French women love mineral water sprays and use them daily. Just a quick spritz instantly moisturizes and wakes up skin.

4. French girls love masks

French girls consider masks to represent a moment of indulgence.

"In France, you grow up knowing to do a mask for your skin at least once or twice a week," French-born NYC PR exec Marie-Laure Fournier says.

Mireille recommends an acacia honey mask, which was recommended to her by her grandmother. Apply lightly and rinse with cold water. "The gluing texture of the honey will take care of impurities ever so gently and leave your face glowing," Mireille says.

5. French girls trust kitchen remedies

French girls love their DIY beauty products. All Parisian women have their own at-home spa rituals, with ingredients that can be found in one's fridge or cupboards.

They're especially obsessed with olive oil. Beauty expert at Aufeminin, Clementine Fitaire says: "Olive oil is excellent on salads but also in cosmetics! Hair, skin, homemade beauty recipes... we use it in many ways."

Mathilde Thomas, cofounder of luxe skin care brand Caudalie, uses a mixture of egg yolk, rum, and olive oil on her hair. "It’s a grandma recipe, very French. You put that awful mixture on your head for an hour and then shampoo. It makes your hair very shiny, with a lot of body," she says.

"Everyone has their own legends and tricks for homemade masks," Marie-Laure says, adding that each recipe differs, depending on where their family was from. Lavender is a popular ingredient in the South of France. Seaweed is used by those from Brittany.

6. French girls believe less is more

Flawless skin, unfussed hair, maybe a bold red lip. French girls know how to rock the minimal makeup look. What's not to love?

"In France, we never push it," Paris-based Dior makeup artist Violette. "We don't like to change ourselves. So when putting on makeup, we just want to look fresher, but that's it. And we like to look the same when we take it all off. You brush your brows, you curl your lashes, you put on a little bit of mascara, a little bit of blush, maybe a little bit of concealer.”

Natural beauty is very important for French girls, they don't want to feel masked by makeup. If you're going to try and emulate French girl beauty, go for either eyes OR lips, never both.

We're going to remember the "less is more" mantra next time we are pressed for time in the AM!

7. French girls aren't afraid to go au natural

We're admittedly product junkies here in the U.K. We obsess over the latest colours and technologies. And dare we admit, we use makeup to play around with our look, to appear different.

French girls use makeup sparingly - and smartly - to look like a slightly more polished version of themselves.

“French women use beauty products to enhance their natural look and physique,” says Birchbox France Brand Relationship Assistant, Aude. “We are flexible about our appearance—we can go without makeup and don’t mind messy hair.”

"I think the makeup minimalism reflects the innate confidence that French women have," French-born epidemiologist Isabelle Bellis says. "Generally, they leave their skin bare."

Beautiful and brave. We love it.

8. French girls take skincare seriously

It's pretty much a non-negotiable that when you don't wear a lot of makeup, you skin has to look fab. This explains why French women are so meticulous about their skincare regimens.

"French women in general begin taking their skin-care regimen seriously from an early age. This gives them a huge upper hand when it comes to ageing. They are serious about every step in their skincare routine from cleanser to serum to SPF and beyond. Instead of waiting for ageing to begin and then fighting it with powerful, potentially irritating ingredients, they employ a routine that slows and softens the effects of ageing long before they begin," author Bethany Porter says.

French girls prioritise skincare above makeup and swear by cult classics like Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse which can be used to give a glow to hair and skin, plump wrinkles, soften skin texture and improve cuticles. It's a must in every French girl's beauty cupboard.

9. French girls appreciate a simple red lip

"Lips are like the accessory, not necessarily another step," Violette says. "That's very French. But no lip liner, ever. We never do step-by-step - we don't have time."

Whether it's a stick, a balm, a gloss, or a stain, we recommend adapting this ritual immediately. Ask your favourite beauty counter gal to help you find the most flattering shade for your colouring!

10. French girls don't fuss with their hair

According to Mireille, French girls do not wash their hair every day. Now there's a beauty ritual we can get on board with!

"Good shoes and a great haircut go a long way to make you look healthier and more attractive," Mireille says. "People notice your hair first, then your eyes and your smile, and then your footwear."

French women believe that washing hair every day - or even every other - will strip the scalp of nourishing oils. Instead they are careful to brush their mop tops from the bottom up with their heads flipped over as they believe this rids the hair of dirt and gives it room to breathe.

Foregoing a daily hair wash every day will certainly save you both time and sanity. And isn't that why dry shampoo was invented, anyway?

11. French girls have a signature fragrance

In France, you're not dressed until you've applied your signature fragrance. Having a signature scent is big news for French girls and they adore sweet, feminine fragrances. The most popular fragrances among French women are vanilla based or have a strong floral aspect.

Clementine says: "France is the country of perfume. Every French woman has one personal fragrance. It’s a beauty gesture, but also a signature, an identity."

Try Lancome's La Vie Est Belle or Dior Addict. Or go try a modern classic like Guerlain's La Robe Noir. Whichever scent you chose, wear it religiously and make it your own.

La Vie Est Belle by Lancome © La Vie Est Belle

What's your favourite French beauty secret? Tweet us @sofeminineUK

Check out these French femme fatales for beauty inspo!

Audrey Tautou © Getty

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