I’m all kinds of obsessed with everything français – especially French beauty secrets. When I lived in Paris, the year after I graduated university, I would scour the beauty aisles of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, the cutest beauty boutiques and the cleanest pharmacies. I found the most interesting beauty products I didn’t know I even needed, from breast moisturizers to deliciously scented nail polish removers. Sure, the staff were very friendly and informative, but it was the locals who would let me in on which products to buy. I’d be staring at a shelf and, just like a scene out of Amélie, a Parisian woman would come up and whisper her beauty secret to me. She’d say “J’adore cela,” (I just love this one) or “Non, non, il faut que vous essayer ce lui ci,” (no, no, you must try this one). I became part of a secret community sharing inside information, leaving no trace or evidence but our stiletto tracks. Jason Bourne and Snapchat have nothing on our beauty brigade.
Even on this side of the Atlantic, I continue to collect French beauty secrets. As a solid, I’ll share with you five of my latest French beauty indulgences, just as if I spotted you in the beauty aisle.
1. Embrace your healthy, shiny skin.
“In my experience, you can’t really control shiny skin, outside of keep it hydrated, but it will still have a little bit of shine… stop caring so much.” – Garance Doré, blogger and illustrator
There are days when my skin is so dehydrated (most often after I’ve spoiled myself with the hottest shower I can tolerate) that it eats up my moisturizer and is thirsty for more. That’s when I pull out Lancôme Absolue Precious Oil. Since I don’t want to waste any of this super hydration on pressed powder, I leave my skin shiny and head out the door.
2. Cleansing is just as important as moisturizing.
“It sounds quite boring, but I have learned drinking lots of water, eating lots of green vegetables, and cleaning your face in the evenings is really important.” – Eva Green, actress
As my finger-wagging coworkers will attest (rightly so), I’m not the best at washing my face before bed. So, I need something so beautiful that it’s a treat. I need it to nudge me to cleanse. Guerlain Orchidée Impériale The Cleansing Foam is just that. And while many derms will tell you that foaming cleansers are drying for skin, I NEED those tiny bubbles. I can’t explain it, but I honestly don’t feel clean if my face wash has the same texture as an oil or moisturizer. This orchid-derived cleanser is gentle and light, so I feel way less bubble guilt.
3. Get serious about serums.
“You’ll notice that Parisian women don’t wear so much foundation, but we protect our skin a lot with creams, serums and eye creams – it’s one of the luxuries where women close their eyes to the price.” – Caroline de Maigret, model and author
I’m a latecomer to serums, I’ll admit. I just found it to be an extra step and I didn’t really understand the whole raison d’être of it. However, this cheap and cheerful serum has opened my eyes. Bio-Beauté Flash Perfection Serum is certified organic and is made with natural ingredients. It’s like an IRL filter that smoothes lines and evens skin tone. And, I love how it highlights my cheekbones.
4. Take care of your eyes, but not with a needle.
“I have never seen a Botox that is a success. It makes [eyes look] strange. No, no, no, I don’t do anything.” – Inès de la Fressange, model and author
My latest l’amour: L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Eyes. This bottle is the cutest thing ever. I love the gel-cream texture and the plant-based ingredients. Whenever I feel a bit tired, I just pump a bead on my hand and use a foundation brush to apply it to my under eye. (The brush just helps with circulation and even application, I find.)
5. If you’re going to spend money on anything, spend it on your face.
“French women treat their ‘base’ as best as they can—so we try to have amazing skin, and an amazing body, and amazing hair, so we don’t have to do too much else.” – Violette, makeup artist
Is there anything more luxurious than Chanel? While I’m not usually into brightening products, since I’m so fair, I truly love Chanel Le Blanc Brightening Moisturizing Lotion. I use it as a toner after I exfoliate my skin and I also use much like any French woman would with a micellar water. It contains pearl extract, magnetic water and glycine to wake up my face. I just dab two cotton balls of the stuff over my face after a skin treatment and when I feel like it needs a bit of extra attention.