Parisian beauty has been chased and pined for around the world for centuries. While the key to the aesthetic is to look effortless, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require any effort to achieve. Below are the tricks that Parisians use to get their lit-from-within glow and next level #hairgoals. Crank up some Edith Piaf, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and start your brand new beauty routine (cute French accent, not included).
1. Give Your Blowdryer and Dry Strands a Break While You Sleep
It’s no secret that Parisian beauty is more about what not to do than what to do. Their air-dried bedheads are a signature staple. But what the rest of the world has a hard time figuring out is how they do it. I don’t know if you were blessed with flawless supermodel hair, but when I don’t blow dry, I look more like a wet Yorkshire Terrier than a stylish street style star. The trick is to wash hair before bed, so you’re not leaving the house with wet hair (nothing less chic), and sleeping on damp hair the correct way will give your hair gorgeous body and shape when you wake up.
2. Wash Your Face with *gasp* Just Water
You (yes even you, with the oiliest skin tribulations) can actually wash your face with water — and improve your complexion while you’re at it. Micellar water, the new cult product, is pulled off pharmacy shelves faster than you can say La beauté, s’il vous plaît. The product is essentially special water with oil particles that hydrate, suck out dirt in clogged pores, and remove makeup (which isn’t that much for a Parisian — more on that below). This is especially beneficial because washing with actual water from the tap can be harsh and strip your skin of essential nutrients and oils. When it comes to beauty, less is always more.
3. Speaking of Less is More, Makeup is Simple and Subtle
Sorry Kim Kardashian, no contour palettes needed here. Think: the goal of makeup is not to cover or hide. The goal is to highlight certain features, while proving to the world that you’re comfortable in your own skin (this means not comfortable behind layers of foundation, concealer, highlighter, eyeshadow, contour sticks, mascara, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, eyebrow gel… I’m exhausted, aren’t you!?) If you do want to go a little bolder, choose one feature and focus solely on that, whether it’s red lipstick or smudgy eyeliner. Keep everything else even more minimal than you think you need (curling your eyelashes or swiping on tinted chapstick is enough!).
4. Be Slightly Disheveled, and Never Too Perfect.
A crucial secret is to be polished, but never look like you tried too hard or took too long. This is so crucial to the aesthetic that I imagine Parisians repeat this to themselves in the mirror every morning. In reality, they’re definitely too cool to do anything like that. But you won’t see them on Instagram posting pictures of their flawless cat eye flick or on-fleek eyebrows. A Parisian once told me that makeup should be used to show a lifestyle, not just beauty. When she wears eyeliner, she smudges it so it looks like she had a late night and slept in her makeup. When she wears lipstick, she dabs some off with her finger, so it looks like she might’ve just been kissed.
5. Perfume is For More Than Your Neck and Wrists
Spritzing perfume is more of an art form for Parisians than a step before running out the door. Get strategic on the placement — a spritz on the back of your neck is potent only when (hopefully a special) someone goes in for a hug or embrace, and letting down a ponytail when your hair has been sprayed with perfume makes a simple act instantly refreshing, delicious, or alluring (depending on what scent you chose!). Spraying into your suitcase before you travel ensures you’ll arrive at your destination with fresh-smelling clothes, and a spritz on your pillow in the morning will pleasantly wake up your senses. Bonus French points for Chanel No. 5.
“A woman should wear perfume wherever she wants to be kissed.” -Coco Chanel
6. Skincare is More Important than Makeup
When planning what beauty products or tools are worth the investment, Parisians put all their money into keeping their skin naturally radiant and clear, rather than on good foundations or concealers. Beauty routines are rituals. Even baths are more than just to clean up, because oils, salts, or herbs are always added to bathwater to increase the beauty benefits and efficiency. The best part is if you lack talent in makeup application (like I have a creeping suspicion that most of us do), no one ever has to know. Au natural is the only way to go.
7. Beauty Should Be Something That Gives You Pleasure
Parisian Mathilde Thomas, the founder of international beauty brand Caudalie, has studied the beauty habits of both her homeland and the United States. In her book, “The French Beauty Solution,” she notes the major differences in beauty between both countries. Most crucially, in France, the idea of beauty is something to bring you joy and pleasure. Oppositely, Americans often talk about juice cleanses, crash diets, laser treatments, and invasive facials, all in the name of chasing beauty. Parisian skincare and beauty routines are more centered around feeling good both in self-confidence and in energy and happiness. So if your get-gorgeous motto is “pain is beauty,” perhaps rethink your routine and how it could be kinder, gentler, easier, and more enjoyable for you.