What is it about French women? They always seem to look glamorous, whether wearing high-end couture, or jeans and a t-shirt. As a makeup artist recently visiting Paris, I hoped to better understand their unique approach to beauty, especially when it came to painting faces. What makeup styles did most women in the "City of Lights" wear? After talking to many native Parisians as well as chatting with working artists, I reveal the beauty secrets that give French girls their "je ne sais quoi"!
Good Skin First
From a young age, French girls are taught to be gentle in caring for their complexions. They use creamy cleansers and nourishing skin care products, similar to Poise's Rejuven skin care line. Protection from the sun is emphasized-- can you say "La Roche-Posay"? Vitamin serums and rejuvenating masks are also regulars in their routines. When issues such as acne or discoloration arise, they seek a specialist to remedy the situation. Besides skincare, they stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and consuming a diet primarily based on fresh, local food.
Less is More
Parisian girls said they prefer their look to be natural- a "no makeup, makeup" look. They rarely wear heavy foundation, preferring to cover up only those areas that needed attention. If they wear a base, it has a sheer coverage with a matte texture. Blush was most often cream-based rather than powder form, opting for colors such as Lion's Heart or Beautiful. During the daytime, there was not much evident in the way of highlighting or contour, but for evenings many younger Parisiennes put a bit of shimmer to accentuate their cheekbones and lips. It was unusual to find anyone that used any contour products.
Neutral/Soft on the Eyes
The eye shadow colors I saw worn by the Parisians were almost always brown or those just slightly darker than their natural skin tone, easy to achieve with our Mineral Pressed Eye color palette. Eyeliner, traditional or winged, was not very common for daytime looks. Eyebrows were filled in where necessary, but not overly defined. Black mascara seemed to be THE favorite and often ONLY, beauty product used to emphasize the eyes. One Parisian girl confided to me that she preferred to use CLEAR mascara so she could pull of the "I woke up like this" beauty look.
Lips Take Center Stage
Lipstick is THE makeup product that almost every French woman wears. Matte seemed to be the preferred texture, and red the most popular color. The younger the wearer, the brighter or deeper the color selected. The over thirty crowd however, often opted for a natural shade, one just slightly darker than their natural lip tone. When bold lips were applied, they were crispy defined. And when natural colors were used, they were just softly blended. For "oh la la" lips, Allure and Orbit lipsticks are my two big picks for a Parisian look. Lips were so in, a brand-new lip concept was on display in Paris, one that included another favorite product, perfume-- a scented lipstick!
My observations along with the feed back from the locals, led me to realize that the French woman's true beauty secret is her confidence! Appreciating her unique features, and accentuating them with a soft wash of color, mascara and a swim of red lipstick-- she still looks like herself. That means less time in front of the mirror, and more time to enjoy her life in Paris, France!
What do you think of the Parisian's style of makeup? Is it for you?
Carolyn Simon is a freelance makeup artist, and educator
A curator of all things beautiful: faces, places, and experiences