French Beauty Secrets: The Insider Tips

Emma-Charlotte Bangay

Beauty and Lifestyle Expert

French women don’t get fat. Nor do they age, it seems. Get the exclusive information from the French beauty brands on how Parisian women appear so perfect…


“French women are very concerned with their skin,” assures Corinne Morice, NUXE International Trainer. “They are taught how to care for their skin from a young age and know grandma’s beauty rituals work, transmitting them to their daughters!” she adds, noting Sophie Marceau, Virginie Ledoyen, Audrey Tautou and Vanessa Paradis as the personification of the perfect French complexion.

Hydration is the key to French women’s skincare rituals, adds Corrine. “A skin fully hydrated is a skin protected and better resists external factors and signs of ageing,” she says. “So it’s no wonder than in France, hydration is the 2nd largest Face Care segment after anti-ageing / anti-wrinkle products!”

According to Corrine, the essential steps to the perfect Parisian skincare routine are:

  • Proper cleansing and makeup removal: “The first step in any French woman’s skincare regime,” she says. “Without efficient and daily cleansing, dirt and grime from dust and pollution particles give skin a dull complexion, pores become clogged, sebum becomes oxidized and damages the skin’s protection barrier creating redness and irritation.”
  • Hydration to help the skin to do its job better and more effectively. “Healthy, plump skin is always well-hydrated,” explains Corrine.
  • Promoted cell renewal: “With gentle exfoliation once a week.” Choose an appropriate anti-wrinkle care for your age and skin type, she advises.


French women put an immense emphasis on skin health and beauty, explains Rachel McAdams, Scientific Communications Manager for La Roche Posay.

“A recent survey¹ showed 69% of French women use sun products,” she explains. “It also suggested French women are more likely to use a higher SPF than other European countries – including Germany, Spain, and Italy.”

Marion+Cotillard+Updos+Classic+Bun+zgepCRsLJHilRachel says that historically, more women tend to use protection on higher exposure days than as an everyday, however, “French women are aware of the dangers of sun radiation and quite aware that it contributes to ageing and dehydration.”

“Steps that French women tend to take to preserve beautiful and glowing skin include, limiting excessive sun exposure – in particular avoiding exposure in the middle of the day 12pm-4pm.” Other steps include using a high SPF formulation and reapplying frequently; and keeping their skin well hydrated.

¹IPSOS, June 2012, France, Germany, Italy, Spain (3,435 French women interviewed)


“When I think of French beauty I remember my mothers words, “simplicite fair la beaute” – elegance, simplicity and an effortless chic!” says Anne Salem, Laura Mercier, National Makeup Artist. “It’s the je ne sais quoi they exude. Not overdone with make up, they identify their natural beauty and embrace it,” she muses. “I love their confidence and sense of self!”

Although French women love their make up and cosmetics, they don’t define them! Instead, “they are simple in their application,” so one statement, like a bold red lip, is enough. “They choose one make up message and it works, therefore keeping French women’s relationship with make up and cosmetics a simple one.”

As French born Laura Mercier herself says, “”In my country, men hate foundation. They hate it because…I don’t know if it’s the way people are more obviously sensual with each other. So the boyfriend would just touch the face of his girlfriend and it would need to basically have the real skin [feel], you know?”

“The culture in France is, like, you will see women going to the office with a bright red lipstick, like I have, but with no other makeup on whatsoever,” Laura continues. “Like, bare face, bright red lipstick, and off they go. But I think that’s very cool.”

Julia+Restoin+Roitfeld+Tops+Denim+Shirt+N1CddtfUNWUlLaura names Juliette Binoche, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve as the embodiment of effortless, elegant, confident, sophisticated French beauty. And a strong lip and a sensual scent as the French essentials –with Laura herself saying she “isn’t fully dressed until she has her fragrance on.”

Body Care:

For French women, “body products are considered mandatory!” says Nicola Gleeson, General Manager, BLC Cosmetics – the distributors of French brand, Thalgo.

“French women spend as much on their body care products and supplements as they do for face products, particularly in summer.”

When it comes to in-salon body treatments, Nicole explains that Thalassotherapy is a popular practice for slimming, detox and relaxation. “It is firmly positioned in French culture and French women’s psyche as a ‘must do’ treatment,” she explains, adding that French women frequent Thalassotherapy centres, with Thalassotherapy treatment and visitation often covered by the French healthcare system.

“Popular with French women of all shapes and size, the treatments can also support additional weight loss or wellbeing, such as after childbirth,” she says.

The most popular over-the-counter products on the market include body Moisturizer, Slimming Body Care and Body Exfoliants, with marine ingredients being widely sought.

“Marine ingredients such as Fucus serratus, a brown algae, are well known by French women for preventing lipogenesis (conversion of fatty acids to fats)”, she explains. “It is most likely due to their exposure to Thalassotherapy from a young age that French women know and understand algae’s potential as a slimming ingredient.”

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