12 Jan How to fall in love with your skin the French way
A classic French approach to beauty teaches that skin care and make-up are acts of self-love that focus on celebrating (not changing or covering) the unique beauty you already are.
In this article, we show you how a French beauty philosophy — based on positive self-talk and simple make-up — can help you better care for and protect your skin. It’s a confidence-boosting, empowering way to look (and more importantly feel!) good that begins and ends with love.
French Instagrammers like Adèle Farine or Lena Simonne (or any of the classic actresses like Bardot) make beauty look easy. Hair messy but somehow perfect. Skin dewy. Barely-there make-up.
French girls don’t have a “secret”. But what makes their approach to beauty different is that they think differently about what it means to be beautiful — they think differently about themselves.
Looking effortlessly beautiful is easy when it’s fun, when it’s for you, and when it’s about feeling your best while feeling like yourself.
More than anything, caring for your skin and applying any make-up you want to, should be a pleasure. For the French girl, it’s only one part of enjoying life, the joie de vivre! — and it’s only one part of what makes you an attractive person.
Some of us have a few thoughts to unthink first because of all of the messaging we receive around beauty. On the one hand, we are told to love ourselves ‘as we are’, but at the same time are bombarded with images depicting beauty standards that aren’t always even real, let alone attainable. We are still taught to seek ‘photo-perfection’; that if our skin doesn’t look filtered, it isn’t gorgeous, which is the opposite of the truth.
…So here’s what French beauty isn’t:
It doesn’t seek perfection. Perfection’s boring and unnatural in a French girl’s book.
It’s not about trying to look like anyone but yourself.
It isn’t for anyone else’s benefit but yours; it’s only ever an act of love to you and you alone.
It isn’t static; you’re beautiful you when you’re living, having fun, being your whole self.
“Perfection is boring” (it’s an attitude)
French actress Juliette Binoche (from the film Chocolat) wisely said: “When people forget themselves, that’s when they are at their most beautiful”.
Trying to create photo-perfect reality is unattainable, and even if it were possible, we’re at our most beautiful in the moments when we aren’t checking the mirror or seeking validation, but just living in the moment: laughing, listening, loving. We are part of nature, and nature isn’t perfect. It’s beautiful because, instead, it’s wild, constantly changing, and free.
Vive la difference!
There’s no one or ‘right’ way to be beautiful. French beauty encourages us to flaunt what makes us uniquely us, whether it’s a birthmark or teeth that aren’t straight. We all have something nobody else in the world has in quite the same way. According to the French, it’s those things — the ones we often want to change — that make us truly beautiful.
Even hair colour is kept natural. Having your hair colour true to your skin tone is decidedly French, as is not overstyling it. What’s so empowering about this is that there is nothing to change, nothing to cover. Only things to practise loving and looking after.
Approaching beauty with less fear and pressure makes the experience of looking after our skin and showing it off more fun. And because French beauty is simpler, it’s cheaper too, meaning we have more money to have fun with! While women for decades have had the cost of ‘looking good’ in ways men haven’t, we can make the idea of beauty work for us rather than against us.
So, how do we do it?
It starts with your thoughts.
Thinking thoughts that nourish us can change how we see ourselves in the mirror. Positive self-talk is the hardest work you’ll do but the most valuable. We can learn to stop looking at the things we’ve decided we don’t like, thinking how they ‘should be’, and loving them instead.
Rather than measuring ourselves against photos, we can start from a place of acceptance of reality: seeing our faces and bodies as beautiful precisely because they are real.
There are many ways to practice this, and one place to start is with free articles and videos from The School of Life. Thoughts you can train your brain to learn should be ones you can believe.
You can start with something neutral if you want to, like ‘I believe that some people think I am attractive / a beautiful person / have nice skin,’ etc., and work your way up to telling yourself everyday how gorgeous you are, and knowing it’s true. We might worry thinking this way would make us arrogant. But that’s precisely because we’ve been taught to believe we need to fix ourselves. Imagine if every woman (every person) suddenly woke up and could see her true beauty.
Self-care starts with what we put into our bodies. We know sleeping well, eating whole foods, staying hydrated and spending time in the fresh air all help to maintain healthy skin. A good lifestyle, with a diet rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids (EFAs) will give you shiny hair and glowing skin. When French women have skin issues, they go for medicine and herbs rather than make-up to help balance. Take an expert supplement like HRI’s Teen Skin to help nourish you from the inside out. Teen Skin contains a full multivitamin, as well as a specialist skin formula to help balance hormones and support the gut with live, friendly bacteria.
Our skin is an organ that needs taking care of. It feels at its best when we accept it, don’t shame ourselves for it, and know we are doing our best for it (as part of a fun-filled life!). In France, it’s generally believed you’re never too young to start looking after your skin. The advice is simple: protect and enhance, don’t try to fix.
And it can be as easy as:
- SPF French girls start using it young, every single day. Use one for the face, ideally free from Oxybenzone.
- Moisturise Pick a product suited to your skin-type, with the most natural ingredients possible
- Cleanse thoroughly! Micellar water is a classic French favourite. But…
- …But don’t overwash! When it comes to skin and hair, the French celebrate natural oils. (Stripping skin of its own oils is bad for all skin types.) Try not to scrub or use harsh ingredients. If you want to use a toner, pick one that’s alcohol-free or use rosewater. (You can also try an oil cleanser or just olive/almond oil + a cloth and warm water.)
- Massage! Using a moisturiser/oil, work from the middle of the chin out, in small circles; then from either side of the nose out, and out from the centre of the forehead. You can do this for 2-10 minutes, and it’ll give you a bright complexion and rosy cheeks.
Good skin care is better than covering up what you don’t feel good about. Make-up is about showing off your natural beauty and expressing yourself.
French make-up can be as simple as this:
- Say au revoir to foundation: it clogs pores, and makes you less confident when you aren’t wearing it. Use a concealer under the eyes instead, and you’ll see an improvement in no time
- Mascara: it needn’t be applied too thickly. Focus on the roots + a few flicks on the lengths
- Blush: try cream blush or bronzer for warm cheeks and an overall healthy look
- Lips: try a red or nude that suits you (or experiment!), blot, and when lips are bright, lessen any eye-make up
In the end, beauty is whatever makes you feel good. Physical beauty is only one part of you that makes you beautiful, and it’s certainly not the most important one.
So live by the French philosophy: Don’t go for perfection, don’t take the way you look too seriously, and don’t try to be anything or anyone but yourself!