Marion Cotillard, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve are among countless French faces that have made their presence internationally known.
Growing up, I always admired the natural elegance and style of these women. They conquered the world by their beauty, and gained our respect by showing us their talents.
French women are commonly known for their sense of style and effortless look, which I honestly believe they were born with, and physique kept by being on a champagne and smoking diet.
Little did I know, this "effortless" look took more time and effort than we can imagine.
Living in France for over a year challenged my view on natural beauty in more ways than one. The French woman's natural approach to beauty doesn't include suitcases filled with makeup and dozens of cosmetics, but rather with a limited supply of the right ingredients, applied with great care and affection.
So, here are four secrets for looking great the French way:
Walking by Promenade des Anglais, the main street of the Nice located in the South of France, I was struck by the sight of a Sheikh (the Arabic term meaning the elder of a tribe), accompanied by six women and three bodyguards.
The men looked like younger versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the group was walking into a beauty clinic of the most bestowed and famous surgeon in France: Marielle Magnani.
Little did I know, the Sheikh was a actually a Arabian prince, visiting France for one simple reason: CoolSculpting.
According to Marielle Magnani, MD:
"CoolSculpting is non-surgical fat reduction technology which freezes unwanted fat cells, leaving the skin unaffected. The skin is left feeling tighter and smoother, without surgery or crazy crash diets."
CoolSculpting has become a growing trend in Europe, particularly in France where women seek non-surgical procedures to eliminate any excess fat they may have. The process includes an hour of simply lying down attached to a machine that (literally) freezes fat.
2. Alkalizing Your Body
On a recent trip to Paris, I noticed a Parisienne woman sitting beside me. Her shiny blonde hair along with her flawless complexion made her the center of attention wherever she went.
She told me:
"You're not going to feel good in your skin unless you get rid of all the toxins in your body. Society keeps encouraging you to count calories, making you buy expensive sh*t with 0 percent fat that will only leave you feeling more bloated and tired, not to mention the countless of added chemicals which are all unnecessary. "Every time I go to the store and read the list of ingredients I can't even pronounce (and I went to Sorbonne!), all I can say of is 'Mon Dieu!' get me outta here!"
Her secret? Alkalizing her body by nutricosmetics. According to the Business of Fashion:
“Nutricosmetics — digestible nutrients designed to enhance the appearance of hair, skin, nails and, sometimes, slim the body overall — are big business. "The market is driven by the ‘beauty from within’ trend and a resulting preference for oral nutritional supplements for appearance maintenance.”
She shared with me her daily routine, along with her diet that includes her daily dose of açaí berries, beetroot, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, barley grass, wheatgrass and a handful of other alkalizing super greens from former model, Elle Macpherson's company, WelleCo. It's the number one nutricosmetics company around the globe.
The growing trend started in Australia and made its way up to European fashion destinations, such as Paris and Milan in 2013, and continues to be the hidden secret of behind looking and feeling good.
3. Purifying Makeup
To women in France, one of the biggest beauty sins one can commit is wearing too much makeup. The "too-made-up look" is synonymous with a woman who is hiding from her true beauty, and from herself.
The phrase “le no makeup look” captures the ideal of French beauty. It’s not that French women don’t wear makeup; it is that they just pretend not to.
I've have yet to see one French woman covered in 50 shades of foundations, wear both eyeliner and eye shadow simultaneously or leave her house without a shade of pinkish-nude lipstick.
Margaux, a make-up artist based in Paris at Le Pain Quotidien, says:
"Monotone makeup makes the skin look beautiful and brings out your innate beauty. Your makeup routine should emphasize your natural features to the fullest, not hide it. Your daily makeup is not just a habit or a duty, but a ritual that breaths life into a woman’s beauty. "For example, I only use beige skin tones from Lunasol to brighten my eyes from their chocolate-inspired makeup collection. It has the smell and look of cacao powder on your skin, but unfortunately uneatable!"
Oh, and this was right before we ordered our Nutella macaroons...
4. Natural Cosmetics
When asked how she manages her flawless skin, the Parisian woman said:
“I wash my face with thermal water, make my own body scrubs or use Skinanim to combat irritated skin, nothing more. The secret to beautiful skin is the same as in the dating world: quality over quantity.”
Natural and bio cosmetics have become a growing trend in Europe, especially in France.
Ilia Ginsburg, representative of Europe’s most bestowed and established cosmetic company, aimed to treat skin conditions such as eczema, explains:
"With the rapidly growing number of people demanding natural high performance cosmetics, especially in Europe, we are currently launching Skinanim Bio. Our aim is to use as many natural products as we can in order to avoid any unneccesary toxins commonly found in commercial skincare products. "This is why Skinanim® products do not use isolated, complicated sounding patented active substances nor use hormones of any kind, corticoids or antibiotics. Mother Earth shows us how it is done and we merely have to send the right signals, protect and care for our skin."
Every Parisian woman takes a substantial amount of effort every single day, but does so very differently than the rest of the world.
It takes time, effort and the right quantity of ingredients you’ve probably haven’t heard of, until now. So to become "Pretty Woman," simply follow the French path.
As Coco Chanel once said, "Simplicity is the key note of all true elegance."