In terms of style, the French really do have a certain je ne sais quoi: their t-shirts always drape just so, their skin always has that movie-star glow and I’ve yet to meet a French woman who can’t rock the daylights out of a red lipstick.
Part of the appeal of French beauty is that it never places an emphasis on being overly done up. Bold eyes are never paired with bright lips, and flushed cheeks often take center stage. Look no further than Brigitte Bardot or Charlotte Gainsbourg for the quintessential French beauty look: feathery lashes, groomed brows and one point of focus (lips, eyes or cheeks).
In honor of Bastille Day, here is the very best of cult French beauty. From the tried-and-true pharmacie favorites to the high-end goodies, these are best of the best. Say hello to your inner Carine Roitfeld.
Skin That'll Make Mona Lisa Jealous
Low-End: Avene Thermal Spring Water ($18)
French chicks aren't about an ultra-matte complexion. A bit of dew goes a long way: It makes you look like you more human and less like a china doll.
While admittedly, Avene Thermal Spring Water is basically H2O in a spray can, it’s hands-down one of the most refreshing products ever. It gives you that dew without having to work for it and the ultra-fine mist will never make you look sweaty. Keep one on your desk at work, one in your gym bag or one on your nightstand to spritz on your face when you aren’t 100 percent awake yet.
Mid-Range: La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Eyes ($34)
Dark, baggy eyes are the furthest thing from chic (unless you have artfully styled bags like Vanessa Paradis who somehow makes looking like you got three hours of sleep sexy).
While this stuff won’t get rid of your wrinkles, it’ll help reduce that puffy nonsense. Basically, use this every time you have a hot date that turned into a hot-mess morning after. Or, more realistically, on Netflix binge nights.
High-End: Phytomer Rich Thermo-Protective Cream ($94)
You know what’s not cute about blasting office ACs? Dry skin that just won’t quit.
Apply this stuff prior to layering on your makeup and it’ll keep those scaly patches from appearing throughout the day. If you find that it’s too thick for you, use it at night as a sleeping mask. A little goes a long way, which is a good thing: If this tub nearly runs a Benjamin, you’d better make your month eating ramen the most moisture-rich ever.
Clemence Poesy Wishes She Had These Locks
Low-End: Klorane Oat Milk Dry Shampoo ($9)
Fact: French girls have great hair. Maybe it’s all genetics, or maybe it’s something in the water, but seriously: what French girl doesn’t look foxy in a messy bun?
The trick? They don’t wash their hair every day. Their natural oils do the work for them by creating tons of playful texture. This Klorane Dry Shampoo not only keeps the oils partying on their heads, but it also adds a touch of volume.
Anything that allows us to be as dirty as possible is a winner in our books.
Mid-Range: Phyto Phytolisse Ultra-Glossing Finishing Serum ($30)
French women prioritize healthy, shiny hair. Forget blow-drying your mane. An air-dried mop is both healthier and looks way more natural. Don’t OD on products, either: instead, opt for a lightweight finishing oil or serum on your ends for a bit of piece-y texture.
High-End: Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($42)
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: This sh*t makes you look like you just got it on. It gives you that loose, messy texture that French babes are synonymous with, without the annoying legwork that comes with trying to artificially wand your hair.
Also, this spray gets bonus points because it smells like how I want my future husband to smell like.
A Face That Belongs At The Moulin Rouge
Low-End: Sephora Collection Oil Infusion Color & Care ($14)
Did you know Sephora is actually a French brand? Oh, you fancy, huh?
A bright red lip is a must for French women. It works as a focal point for a going out look and tones down a hangover. The Oil Infusion line from Sephora is so fantastic because it’s ultra-hydrating while still adding pigment and feeling like satin on your lips.
Mid-Range: Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara ($26)
Fluttery lashes are the antidote to a sleep-deprived weekend. Clarins — which is a favorite both in Paris and stateside — makes a wonderfully brightening mascara that adds length, volume and thickness.
Pair that with the Sephora red lip and you have your happy hour look down pat.
High-End: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 ($44)
Everyone waxes poetic about these tinted moisturizers and for good reason: They make you look like you’re not wearing any makeup at all while still evening out your skin tone. Go yonder and be the perfect French snowflake that you are.