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Celebrate Bastille Day With French Beauty Secrets!

Bonjour, mes amies! Since today is Bastille Day—the French national holiday—I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how les femmes françaises look the way they do. Think about some contemporary French beauties—Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Tautou, Juliette Binoche, Noémie Lenoir—and I think you'll agree that they are belle indeed.

Compared to the average American woman, our Gallic counterparts view investing in their appearance as an absolute necessity, not an optional luxury. They're more inclined to pamper themselves. Their biggest focus is on developing a beautiful, glowing complexion. French women of all economic means take pride in their skin, whether that means getting regular facials or buying the best moisturizer their budget allows. On a day-to-day basis, I've found that French women moisturize like you wouldn't believe. It's not as though you'll walk along the Seine and see women applying lotion in broad daylight, of course, but I've never met a French woman who didn't apply a cream every single night.

To find out the French approach to makeup, and to discover which products sell better in France than they do in the U.S.,

During my visits to Paris, I've noticed that fighting cellulite is a big deal for French women—much moreso than for Americans. Any Parisian drugstore is stocked with various creams, lotions and other products meant to minimize jiggle and orange-peel skin. Whether they work is beyond me, but sales are skyrocketing!

As far as makeup is concerned, the typical Parisienne favors a look that never tries too hard. The French are known for preferring a natural face over a "done" one. (Of course, there are exceptions, but even these are classy, not over-the-top.) While French women do wear makeup, they do so in a way that isn't necessarily obvious. So while you might start with foundation (again, to give a flawless-skin finish), you'd go easy on the blush, dab on some mascara and a light lip gloss. At night, you might favor a smoky eye or a bold red mouth, but never both together. Moins c'est plus: Less is more.

And finally, as my wonderful French professor once told our class, "Of course French women shave their underarms!" If you've been clinging to the "hairy Frenchie" stereotype, let that one go! Tell me: Have you been to France? Have you picked up any French beauty secrets?


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