It has long been a generally accepted fact that French women don’t get fat. It is now also increasingly accepted that they don’t succumb to spots and wrinkles either.
A glance at the beauty pages of my favourite glossy magazines reveals a veritable fascination with the rules of French skincare. The consensus on what those rules are however is far from clear. There is the minimalist, soap-and-water camp embodied by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who swears by Embryolisse, a simple, French pharmacy classic.
Juliette Lévy (The founder of Oh My Cream !)
That icon of Parisian chic, Ines de la Fressange, espouses an even more minimalistic approach: to eradicate wrinkles, a smile will suffice! On the other side of the fence, we have the French facialist camp. They book their appointments with Parisian skincare gurus months in advance and apply complex sounding creams with scientific precision.
Either way, one thing seems clear. French beauty brands have us in their thrall.
In order to better understand the route to “la belle peau”, I spent a morning in the delightful company of Juliette Levy, founder of cult French online beauty boutique Oh my cream ! Parisian girls are all about the basics, she tells me: an excellent cleanser and moisturizer (she swears by the products of legendary Parisian epidermatologist Joëlle Ciocco), oil for the hair (from Leonor Greyl) and tried-and-true sun protection (Esthederm, in case you were wondering).
And their ethos as far as make-up is concerned is definitely less is more. Skincare first, makeup very definitely second, if at all. She also reminds me that in France women make regular visits to the dermatologist and buy their mainstay products in pharmacies. Beauty and medicine overlap, she tells me, but not to the extent that one might imagine. French women don’t get facelifts then, I ask. No, replies Juliette, that is just not something a chic French girl would ever do!
If all of this sounds a shade too minimalist, I should add that Juliette also champions a selection of young, cool and colorful French brands, in the shape of Kure Bazaar (nail-friendly nail varnish), Christophe Robin (she qualifies his prickly pear hair mask as a lifesaver) and Suilo, a beautiful Franco-Japanese brand sold exclusively by Oh My Cream.
I reflect upon my own skincare regime and how it has changed over the 8 years that I have lived in France. I am delighted to discover that I have turned into a real Parisian! Not only do I own a tube of Embryolisse, I also buy most of my skincare products in the chemist, visit a dermatologist every six months and am (mostly) happy to apply minimal make-up in the shape of By Terry Light Expert, Touche Velouté and the cult Baume de Rose lip balm.
If you are planning a trip to France and looking to stock up on skincare products or indulge in a facial whilst you are there, Oh my cream ! has a beautiful shop in St Germain. If your next trip to France is a little too far off, click here to read more about Juliette and to see where all of the products mentioned in this article can be purchased online.
- Don’t miss our previous article here on HiP Paris about places to get your beauty fix in Paris.
- How do you look like a Parisian? Refinery29 shares their secrets to looking like a true French person.
- Tory Hoen lists the French pharmacy beauty secrets you might not have known about before…
Written by Kate Davis for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.