The 5 Beauty Rules French Women Swear By


Photo: @carolinedemaigret

Growing up with the good fortune of having a Parisian mother, I learned a thing or two about French culture: Wine with meals verges on essential; always serve a salad with said meal; it’s never too late in the day for an espresso; and you must take care of your skin (but no one needs to know about it).

My mother is fastidious, nay religious, about her skin care regimen and always has been. From removing her makeup every night without fail before bed, to her bi-weekly face-mask rituals and her love of serums from Sisley, this is something that she has instilled in me. Confidante and colleague Mathilde Lacombe, editorial director of Birchbox in France and blogger at La Vie en Blonde, she concurs: “Less is more when it comes to French beauty. We love taking care of ourselves, but we don’t want it to show. We are not looking for perfection, but we are just trying to be the best version of ourselves.”

When Caroline de Maigret’s tome How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are launched, it served as the zeitgeist’s benchmark about “how to take care of yourself while giving the impression that you don’t take care of yourself. It is the art of beauty—the Parisian way,” says Mathilde. And that’s exactly it…to look like you have a certain je ne sais quoi, you actually need to put a fair amount of time and effort into it. Here, excerpts from Caroline’s brilliant book that decree how look to after your skin like a true Parisienne:

1. Let your true beauty show through.

“Skin should look natural. Freckles can appear in spring along with the first rays of sunshine. Sometimes your cheekbones blush when you lie, and your whole face flushes when you are intimidated. You must not stifle the stories behind the natural coloring of your skin. For this reason it must be shown revealed, exposed.”

French Trick: Enhance natural radiance with Aurelia Probiotic Skincare’s Revitalise and Glow Serum worked into skin morning (noon—why not?) and night. No freckles to speak of? Dot them in with your brow pencil, haphazardly, just where the sun would hit.

2. Say no to foundation.

“The skin of your face must be treated as a canvas. Start with moisturizer to smooth your skin. Then hide any imperfections (bags under your eyes, the sides of your nose, spots) with concealers (such as Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat or a BB Cream. If you can’t live without your foundation, then mix it with a touch of moisturizer to mute its effect.”

French trick: A moisturizer/foundation combo? We’re one step ahead with Ilia’s Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturizer. No one need know you’re wearing it, and that’s the point, right?

3. Never go to bed without taking your makeup off.

“Never go to bed without taking off your makeup. Yes, you climb into bed more tired from this care. But that’s the price we pay to save our skin.” This seems to be a recurring theme among Frenchies.

French trick: Look to Dr. Jackson’s Coconut Melt 04, which not only removes makeup but leaves skin deliciously nourished afterward. It’s good enough to eat. Quite literally.

4. Say no to surgery.

“Better to look your age than look no age at all. By now we’ve learned that relying on excessive plastic surgery ages you more in real life. Parisian women never try to appear to be something other than what they are. In truth, wanting to look young—which is but a fleeting illusion—they want above all to become the best possible version of themselves…at any age.”

French trick: There is true wisdom in wanting to age gracefully. Give skin a better chance along the way with Tata Harper’s Elixir Vitae Serum. Expensive yes, but packed full of potent anti-aging ingredients that plump, smooth, and lift, and it’s a darn sight cheaper—and kinder—than any surgery alternatives might be.

5. Know your limits.

“Early on your mother gave you a magnifying mirror: a window on aging and the passage of time. She didn’t repeatedly warn you not to smoke, not to drink too much, she simply invited you to view their side effects in your reflection. Your skin retains the memory of every party you ever went to, under your eyes and in the corners of your lips…Be wary of your penchant for excess.”

French trick: Try Intelligent Nutrients Detoxifying Glycolic Gel. Used at night before bed, it might just help to stave off those signs of excess by encouraging the right amount of gentle skin renewal.

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