From what I see many French women don’t wear too much make up, they seem to prefer natural beauty with small amounts of help.
Dramatic, enhanced faces are not something I have noticed on the streets of Paris during the last weeks of my travelling. Lips are defined, but eyes and cheeks are subdued. Hair is much the same, oftentimes well cut and worn slightly messy. I haven’t seen many full on Sloane Ranger blow dries racing through the Tuileries.
French women must spend much time and money on their faces and bodies via treatments and products, they are great believers in plumping and pumping for results, if the amount of skincare brands and spas are any indication. Natural beauty is something they are happy to spend their time and money on. I don’t for a moment think they aren’t jabbing away like many other women, or lifting this and that when the time is right, they must be; the passage of time waits for no one.
It is their resolution of beauty, their aims and desires, I find very different.
Skin treatments are paramount in France and women rely heavily on the latest equipment to maintain skin and reduce the visible signs of ageing. The French have been using advanced methods to stimulate the outer and inner layers of the skin for longer than I can remember and they have been applying anti-rides potions forever. French women regularly take a course of treatments to beat cellulite, loose weight and tone up the skin yet when it comes to make-up the approach they take is much more minimal.
I am intrigued when I discuss these matters with my girlfriends in France. I am thinking of one friend in particular.
Firstly let me describe her. She is as pretty as a picture, petite and slim as many French girls are and with an accent that melts your heart and instantly endears her to everyone.
She is gentle, kind and generous of nature and a great sounding board.
When I want to know about many things French and in particular when I want to check my observations about all the girly stuff, she is my go-to. We talk about skin care, diets and the problem spots and even though she is a good fifteen years younger than me, she maintains that we can all benefit from these advanced treatments and that prevention rather than cure is the answer to ageing gracefully. She budgets for and prioritises her beauty care above other discretionary spending, these appointments are an official line in her yearly spending and as crucial as the maintenance on her car.
Her way of thinking is intuitive, non-negotiable; looking after herself and her body is paramount. She doesn’t think about it or put it off until next month, she does it. Appointments with aestheticians are appointments French girls keep. When I question whether she tires of being prodded and pulled she looks at me as if I am an alien and simply replies, ‘il faut‘, which means much, much more than it is necessary.
With those two small words she has analysed the French woman’s philosophy on beauty; what we consider luxury and oftentimes an extravagance they consider an essential.
The flip side of this is that makeup whilst obviously worn and important is done with discretion. Natural beauty is the goal, over use of makeup is for dress ups. With treatments it would seem that more is best, with makeup it would seem that less is more.
“Less Is More” Make-Up
* Natural tinted moisturiser for day, foundation at night. Blending is key and tell tale signs around the jawline are a definite no, no. The older we are the less heavy foundations we should wear as they emphasise and illuminate lines.
* Soft blusher/highlighter, the barest whisper, to enhance the cheekbones and a minuscule dusting under the eyebrows.
* Eyes can be dark and smokey (think shades of grey or smokey taupes) with the lips natural in colour. If lips are coloured then the eyes make do with lashings of mascara and a little liner on the top, that’s it.
* Red lipstick (cherry lush) is an essential makeup accessory. Application is key and a good red lipstick can make you feel fabulous. French girls have favoured red lipstick forever so they must have figured out something.
The moral of my story is to see the art and science of beauty from a French perspective.
I think as women we should try and prioritise more time for ourselves, not always put our own needs behind those of our family and our work. If we are strong in mind and body then those we love and those who depend upon us will profit.
We might not, like a French girl, want a fancy fat burning treatment; we might simply prefer regular yoga classes, the gym or sessions of pilates.
Whatever we choose the reasons are the same, not only do we improve our bodies but we feel good about ourselves and in doing that increase our confidence. xv