“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” – Coco Chanel.

As cliché as it sounds, French women are the masters of beauty minimalism. That covetable kind of cool that’s so imperfectly perfect: minimal makeup, mussed up hair, skin that looks bare but somehow still flawless. Is it possible to learn to pull this off if you’re not Parisian? Totally. It’s all in the approach – the French philosophy is to work with what you have, not to fight against it or try to mask it. Here’s how they make that work:

  • It’s all about skin. French pharmacies are packed to the rafters with quality, affordable skincare and le français often start looking after their complexions from an early age. The rewards are plentiful – the better your skin, the less makeup you need.
  • French women take good care of their body. That means watching what you munch on as much as what you slather on limbs. They’re not fussed by fat, but they do care about sugar. Rightly so – it can upset skin as it causes an inflammatory reaction in the body.
  • Keep foundation to a minimum. It should be totally invisible. Apply it just on the T-Zone and blend outwards for a natural finish. On days where you need minimal coverage, mix your foundation with day cream to make your own sheer coverage tinted moisturiser.
  • While we’re talking base, blend well. Then blend again. And again. If you have fine lines, try a beauty blender and really push foundation into the skin until you can’t see any visible sign of foundation.
  • French women aren’t afraid to touch up. You’re not a Madam Tussaud mannequin, but a living, breathing creature. You laugh, you latte, you lunch and the only way for makeup to survive that intact is if it’s too plastic in the first place. Choose to touch up instead.
  • Skin with a natural glow is the ultimate beauty prize. A little face oil massaged on to the complexion gives it a lovely glow under foundation. If you’re unhappy with the state of your skin, use a primer instead (primers are full of silicone, so will smooth over bumps and patches). Some primers also have added luminiser so you’ll be adding a hint of radiance at the same time.
  • A French girl’s hair isn’t fixed or fussy. Styling is kept to a minimum and, instead of a cabinet bursting with hair product, the big bucks are spent on a good cut and colour (think balayage and subtle layers – below the ear only. Locks often sit at shoulder length or above).
  • To pull off the super chic French-style tousled tresses, hair must be shiny (otherwise locks just look dry and unloved). Hit hair with a quality mask (coconut or jojoba oil will do the trick too) instead of just conditioner each week.
  • The French understand the second-day effect: hair looks better the day after a blow dry (and should never be freshly washed if you’re curling or going for an up-do). Same goes for skin – the post-facial glow kicks in the morning after a treatment.
  • Learn to rock a red lip. Leave eyes alone (just a lick of mascara and concealer, if you need it) so lips have centre stage in all their crimson glory.
  • Strobe, but don’t contour. French women don’t embrace fussy makeup routines. Add a little highlight to certain points on the face – the top of the cheekbone (take it right up to the temple to give your face an instant visual ‘lift’) and just a tiny boomerang in the outer corner of the brow (use an angled brush to get a skinnier, more natural-looking curve).
  • Use eyeliner just on the upper waterline only (the area under your lashes/kind of touching your eye). It’s ridiculously uncomfortable to apply, but it’s the best way to add invisible definition with no risk of harsh lines. And voila, that’s how you do undone. Très jolis.