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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?


KateLynn2011 KateLynn2011 7 years
Spicerlif- good point, smoking is popular in France and SOOO terrible for the skin. I do think French women are less obsessed than American women are with having oil-free, shine-free skin. Natural oil helps to keep skin soft and youthful, so what if you're a bit shiny?
LenkaLuxe LenkaLuxe 8 years
I agree with tralalala...about obesity in US ...I'm from different country and never seen so many people is shocking..about "french people think they all that" it's nothing wrong with to be proud of your country and your roots (I'm russian)at least I don't see french people scream :We don't buy american products... and I don't see them throw american wine in the's got to political and we here to talk about beauty haha...from each country and nation we can learn something if we are smart:)
alexask alexask 9 years
i lived in both france and germany for a while, and my opinion is - i've never seen so many beautiful young girls in my life. i seriously think it's because they had so many colonies of different cultures, because even the northernmost-dwelling french girls i would see would often have olive skin and other exotic features. i remember the first time i went to berlin, after living in france, every one seemed so pale and underdressed in comparison (don't get me wrong, i loved living in germany way more than in france). but the people really made me think twice about how i looked when i left the house. girls would be in their finest just to go to a divey coffeeshop. i used to also notice tons of old ladies who were the most wrinkly people i've ever seen in my life. shaky eyeliner and bright red lipstick. chainsmoking and with big fur coats and chanel and huge purses and little dogs. i'd see this in paris or even the tiniest towns. it was kind of cute.
Rouge14 Rouge14 9 years
Answer to Ashley2: Stereotype AGAIN!!! I hate stereotypes! I'm French and I've got curves, I'm not fat but there's no way I'd call myself skinny either. enough with the stereotypes! Same for the rude arrogant behaviour thingy I've read in wayyyy too many comments! Not only am I French, but I'm from Paris, and I live in the UK, Yes there are some people you can come across in Paris in particular who aren't the nicest people but this is Paris, it might be the city of love, or whatever else idea you have of it, but bare in mind this is a capital city as well. There are lots of people going to work, running late, busy schedules, lots of tourists (and sorry to say that but most of the time, English speaking ones are the ones being rude, of course they're not all like that, I actually met 2 really nice girls from Los Angeles once in the metro, I helped them find their way and we ended up chatting about the differences from both our cities, which was very interesting as I'd love to go to California and they enjoyed the few tips I gave them about travelling in Paris) But there are really nice people too, who, unlike most tourists who can't even be bothered to learn a few basic sentences or even try, can speak quite well your language, and will actually be quite happy to help anyone foreign if they can. Anyway, the world is overcrowded with idiots and rude people, you will find arrogant and rude people everywhere, but it doesn't mean that because you came across some in one place that this place is full of them, I saw lots of them in Paris, but I also saw lots in England, some were racist towards me, etc... But I also met lots of lovely people in both places, so please, please, please, before you go on about spreading stupid stereotypes (stereotypes are stupid anyway) about other people, at least try to know better, because I bet if you actually knew anyone French, the thought itself of thinking this way wouldn't have reached your mind. And...need I to say that there are SOME rude people in America too? But then again, I'd never dare to say "Americans are rude!" because I have American friends, and know that what your neighbour might say or do doesn't necessarily mean you would say it or do it too, and you might actually be a really nice person when they'd be absolute ##### (you know what I mean!) Anyway, thanks Bella for thinking of us on our "Bastille day" as you guys call it (we just call it 14th of July), that's very thoughtful and appreciated by any of us on here I'm sure. I, myself, enjoy a lot reading about the beauty trends in America, I love learning about other cultures, and if it's beauty related, it's even better! There's one thing I absolutely love actually, that's American, it's Sephora, we've got in France but there's none in England, and oh boy do I miss it!
tio tio 9 years
*to achieve a healthy look..
tio tio 9 years
Thanks for this article im French and it's nice that you thought about us for the French national holiday(7/14). To ms_mags= There is a new smoking ban law in France.People aren't allowed to smoke wherever they want. To tinywhale= I totally agree with your comment it's a very good description of French women. French women want to look natural their looks aren't stereotyped and having a flaw can be an asset. Their goal is to acheive a healthy look(healthy hair,skin,body..).Besides,they prefer to wear nude/minimal make up and don't try too hard.They want to enhance their assets not to look like someone else. In general,French women want to age gracefully and are less obsessed with youth and perfection. People also try to eat healthy in France.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
It baffles me to hear people say french women aren't different from American, especially coming from those who haven't even been there. I'm currently living in Europe and all I can say is that whenever I go home I can't BELIEVE how overweight everyone is. People eat junk all the time and then they complain about how the media is obsessed with being skinny. French women might be skinny, but they are also healthy. They don't drink cans of diet soda and Doritos.
Princess-Peach Princess-Peach 9 years
*more beautiful/nicer, sorry.
Princess-Peach Princess-Peach 9 years
Wow ! What an interesting debate "who's better/most beautiful/nice/etc." finally. :OY:
Ashley2 Ashley2 9 years
french woomen are skinny + beautiful
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I saved up for three years to go to Paris. It was amazing and I spoke limited French (three years and it was still hard for me) but I made sure that I was always polite and if I got stuck on a word - the people were very helpful.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
How sad that xenophobia exists. Anyway, I've heard good things about being able to find good skin care products right in the pharmacies in France. I don't quite know whether that means cheaper products that are actually good though. And like someone else said, you don't see people with homogenized teeth where everyone has super (too) white, super straight teeth that look exactly the same as everyone else's smile. I love Vanessa Paradis' gap. Audrey's one of my favorite along with Catherine, her sister Francoise Dorleac, Clemence Poesy and others. I love that they don't have the mentality that you have to fix everything that is different, even though of course there are Americans too who think the same way, myself included.
Jennipoo Jennipoo 9 years
i agree, bush-- A.T's hair was adorable in Amélie! I loved her clothes, too. Very anthropologie. She's adorable. When my mom came back from south of France she brought back a homemade spritzer/toner-- water, lemon, lavender. She said ti was very popular. I liked it too, so fresh. I've heard, but don't know if it's true, that French women don't wash their hair as much as north americans because of drying out the hair and/or hair looking better a couple days without a wash. My hair gets to nasty when i skip a day. =(
buch1979 buch1979 10 years
Love Audrey Tatou, I would love to have her Amelie hair style. I've lived a charmed life, so for eight years I was able to travel to Europe at least twice a year. I love Europe I miss it so much. I always feel so pretentious when I think about my favorite haunts. I think my beauty routine has been greatly inspired by Europe, take care of your skin, sunscreen, make up to even skin tone, healthy flush to cheeks, mascara, and tinted lip balm. I always feel so underdone when I go out with my friends in America but a done face is so not me. Also wear quality skivies, and make sure your clothes at least appear freshly pressed. Only "ugly Americans" have trouble with people of other cultures being mean to them.
mrflibble mrflibble 10 years
I'm french and I just think that style and beauty can be found all over the world. Taking care of oneself is just a matter of self-esteem ans common sense.
splashofsass splashofsass 10 years
The tips I have gotten over the years from my Parisian relatives: 1. Moisturize (like the article says) and don't forget your hands and neck 2. Water, water, water, drink tons of it, no sodas, not too much alcohol, just water (plat or sparkling) 3. Nice grooming (take care of hands, nails, feet and overruly eyebrows and the horrible upper lip hair, I have it too, it sucks) 4. Never too much makeup, I rarely see the smokey eyes or much eyeliner/shadow at all in Paris 5. The French in major cities (Paris, Nice, etc) tend to be much thinner than their American counterparts in major US cities because they walk everywhere, utilize portion control, and don't snack. I love to snack, so that can be a hard one. But you have to admit that US portions really are out of control. I don't know why people feel that it is acceptable to bash any nationality, xenophobia (IMO) has no place in society today. I saddens me to read the earlier comments about people hate French women, blah blah blah. One would say that about Mexican women, or Chinese women, so why is it acceptable to say that about the French?
Karla-Sugar Karla-Sugar 10 years
I bought a copy of French Glamour once, and the one fashion tip I carried away was from this model who did several spreads. She had the most gorgeous, natural, thick brows -- I am so tired of overtweezed brows! And I think that the natural look is prettier, regardless what country you're in.
Lianna Lianna 10 years
I haven't been to France but plan to go within the next 3 years, very interesting reading what everyone had to say!
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 10 years
I was in France several times on holidays and always found the people very polite and friendly. I hate hearing "oh the french are so rude and arrogant". There are rude and arrogant people in every country. Viva la France! :ROTFL:
MissAntipodea MissAntipodea 10 years
Audrey Tatou is gorgeously stunning.
caernarvan caernarvan 10 years
I do believe that French healthcare covers things like facials, dematologist & spa treatments if you have acne or rosacia or other skin problems.
mme-sky mme-sky 10 years
I've lived in France & traveled quite a bit -- and I agree that French women aren't as high-maintenance as far as hair-styling -- though I do recall most older women color their hair -- you don't see too many gray-haired ladies. Many older women went for an almost purplish-reddish henna dyed look. One thing I think French women care more about is LIPSTICK! I saw many a woman w/ a completely bare face, but they still had a bold lipstick on -- usually matte -- no glosses here.
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