Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Marion Cotillard, Juliette Binoche, Lea Seydoux… perhaps more than any other nationality, French women exude a timeless beauty, whatever their age. While we here in the UK tend to obsess over how old we look, French women prefer to age gracefully and celebrate their natural beauty.
Mathilde Thomas, founder of French beauty brand Caudalie, says in her book The French Beauty Solution, “Our beapauty routine is predicated on prevention and upkeep and is regarded as an essential, ongoing investment.” This contrasts with quick-fixes such as plastic surgery often resorted to in the United States and increasingly in the UK. Sleep, water and organic food play an important role in maintaining good looks and health for many French women – and a glass of red wine doesn’t seem to hurt.
The focus is on skin, rather than make-up. They love micellar water and spritz it on before putting anything else on the face. Micellar water can be used as a first step for double cleansing. Spray on and wipe your face, then follow with a rinse-off or wipe-off cleanser. Then there’s a focus on nourishing the face and neck to moisturise, restore and protect, investing in the best quality skincare products they can afford from beauty brands they trust most.
Many French women get away with using just four or five make-up products, because they keep make-up minimal, enhancing with just a touch, and often highlighting just one feature. A daily face might start with a little concealer, groomed eyebrows and cream blush to warm the complexion. For going out, this is stepped up by highlighting one key feature, perhaps a smokey eye or a classic red lip.
Beauty is not the same as looking perfect. French women embrace what some might call imperfections. A slightly crooked or larger nose, for example, is not to be corrected in any way, either by surgery or with contouring make-up. Accept, and vive la difference.