Beauty how-to: 6 tips for achieving the effortless French beauty look

MyFrenchLife™ - effortless French beauty - Catherine Deneuve - MyFrenchLife.orgFrom classic screen siren Catherine Deneuve to modern muse Lea Seydoux, French women have epitomised feminine beauty for generations. Don’t we all wish we could embody that famously effortless French beauty?

As with all things, perfection doesn’t always come naturally. Luckily, there are some beauty tips and tricks we can all learn!

When it comes to beauty it’s important to get the basics right, develop good habits from an early age, and always remember that less is more. French women strive for perfect skin that doesn’t need a lot of make up to look gorgeous, and they aim to have healthy hair that doesn’t rely on heated styling to dazzle.

Here are just a few simple things to get us one step closer to achieving effortless French beauty!

Skin tips

Skin is like a blank canvas: the healthier it is, the less (war)paint is needed to cover its surface. As fashion guru Caroline de Maigret says, ‘Skin is 90 percent of my makeup.’

Wear moisturiser with SPF

I’ve been recommended by many French women to wear moisturiser with SPF – in all seasons. Whether you can see the sun or not, UV rays are always present and are a major factor in skin ageing. Now you know why older French women look so gorgeous!

MyFrenchLife™- effortless French beauty - la roche posay -

Pharmacies are your skin’s best friend

Any pharmacy will stock the dermatologically tested brands that French women swear by, such as La Roche Posay, Avène, and Bioderma. Here’s a few incontournable products you can find in any woman’s bathroom:

1. La Roche Posay Make-Up Removal Milk – for gentle cleansing and make up removal.

2. Nuxe L’Huile prodigieuse dry oil – the ultimate effortless French beauty oil for face, body and hair.

3. Avène Eau Thermale – to soothe and hydrate the skin whenever needed and to fix make up. It’s a good idea to spray it on after washing your face and before moisturising, to get rid of traces of dirt and lime scale in water.

Make-up tips

Highlight, not contour

The crazy contouring trend never quite reached the French, and rightly so – why add shadows to your face when you can use light? For effortless French beauty use a highlighter instead, such as YSL’s Touche Eclat on your cupids bow and cheekbones for an added facial glow. Sweep some blush on your cheeks for a little feminine flush too.

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A ‘go-to’ rouge à levres

While some trends come and go, a classic red lip will never get old. To compliment your glowing skin, a crimson or scarlet red lipstick is all you need – perhaps just a little mascara, but nothing more! For effortless French beauty, less is always more. Try YSL’s Rouge Couture in No 1, or Mac’s Ruby Woo, two pure reds that brighten the face, no matter your skin colour!

Hair tips

Keep it conditioned

The best way to style hair is perhaps to not style it at all. Straighteners, curlers and hairspray can only do so much, and natural hair is effortless and beautiful. Keeping your hair healthy and well conditioned is the only TLC it really needs. French women love a hair mask for an intense, moisturising treatment – why not try making your own?

MyFrenchLife™- effortless French beauty - Melanie Laurent -

If you live in Paris, keeping your hair gorgeous is not always easy due to the hard water. Read my tips on how to battle against this here!

Keep it ‘undone’, never overdone

Lived in, textured hair is paramount to effortless French beauty. Kinks, waves, and odd strands of one-day-old hair are styles in and of themselves. If needed, freshen up with Klorane Dry Shampoo made with oat milk – it’s the only dry shampoo you’ll ever need. It suits all hair types, gives the hair a lift and water free cleanse without the usual residue of most dry shampoos and can be found in any pharmacy (surprise surprise!)

So there you have it, a few essential tricks to master the effortless French beauty of your favourite French actresses. The best overall beauty tip is to always keep it simple: in the products you use and the make up you wear. This way, you too can give the illusion that you simply woke up looking fabulous!

Do you have any beauty tips you’ve learnt from your experience in France? Please share with us!

Image credits:
1. Catherine Deneuve by Richard Avedon, via pinterest
2. Radiant skin, via La Roche Posay
3. Lipstick by Lisy, via pixabay
4. Melanie Laurent, via
5. Brigitte Bardot, via pinterest (feature image)

About the Contributor

Emma Ly

A London born French and History graduate working in the French cosmetics industry in Paris. I love to decode the myths of French beauty through cosmetics, art and fashion, and to simply explore the city’s charm as a flâneuse. Follow my Instagram to see all my favourite captured moments!

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