19 Feb 2015

7 Things French Women Never Do To Their Hair

Charlotte Gainsbourg, 7 Things French Women Never Do To their Hair, Vicki Archer

Speaking of hair,

I recently read an article about 7 things that French women never do to their hair; a peak from How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest and Audrey Diwan. Interesting thoughts and from my observations most of the points were true but not entirely.

Hair, French style, is definitely different to the way hair is worn in London or New York. I would say that my Francophilia has been responsible for many of my hair phases and probably the biggest reason why I like wearing my hair mostly straight. French hair has a natural look, it appears simple and non-contrived.

I never believe for a second that “natural” takes any less time than “done” and oftentimes looking natural is way harder than any other look.

1. French women never dye their hair.

“Do not dye your hair, or if you do, only in your original color to highlight it, or to hide any gray.”

French women dye their hair to appear natural and to suit their complexions. It would seem they don’t dye their hair to follow fashion trends. I haven’t seen many pastel bobs on the streets of Paris as yet. Let’s not get carried away though, French women do dye their hair. They go to a great deal of expense and time to make it appear natural. And that is the secret, natural.


2. French women never use a hairdryer.

“Do not dry your hair with a hair dryer (in fact, you might as well throw your hair dryer away) but instead use two much more environmentally friendly resources: fresh air in summer and a towel in the winter.”

If the number of hair salons in Paris buzzing with blow dryers are anything to go by I doubt that this is true. Younger women may follow this lead but not all.

3. French women never wash their hair every day

“It’s not worth washing your hair every day, as it’s usually on the following day…that your hair gains a certain weight that in turn gives it the right volume when tied up in a bun.”

Second day hair is usually the best. Slightly messy with a little more texture, always works for me.


French women never accessorize their hair.

“There’s no point in accessorizing your hair.”

French women don’t wear clips and bands, sparkles or colour in their hair. Simplicity and natural always the key.


French women never leave the house with wet hair.

“Whenever possible, wash your hair in the evening rather in the morning, so as not to leave the house with wet hair.”

I had never thought about this but it’s true, I haven’t seen it. Would we do that anyway?

6. French women never forget the power of scent.

“A touch of perfume on your hair, behind your ear, or on the nape of your neck, never did anyone any harm…”

True, true, true.

7. French women never complain about the heat.

“Bless that magical time in the summer when your hair, with some sea water and sunshine, becomes simply perfect: a little bit rough, a little bit lighter, and a little bit salty.”


Forgive me, I am obviously not French. I complain all the time about humidity and getting my hair wet… ;)

Are you feeling French when It comes to your hair?  xv

How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest and Audrey Diwan

image of jeanne damas and article byrdie.com

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Anita Rivera

Oh, this is sooooooooo good, given that I just cut off my hair! I was so proud of my hair, Vicki. It was already long enough to put in a pony tail (for home only!) but the shine, the color I have, I loved it. But suddenly on Monday afternoon after work, I got that URGE….you know, the one that says, “Cut your hair NOW?” But I am so happy with it because thank goodness, my hair grows out quickly and I can wear it any way I want. I think I am French when it comes to my hair, you know?I never dye it, I never, ever use a blow-dryer, and I agree that the second day, my hair looks better! Oh, this was fun. I love the French; the natural looks starts in their home décor and trails over into their very appearance.

Have a super day dearest Vicki! Anita


I know only too well that “cut your hair” urge… I am having it too! I have been growing mine for months now.. I’m still undecided… what with letting the grey take over and my longer locks.. I am totally uncertain!!

I like it shoulder length but then when it gets longer I start to think I should keep it longer… decicions, decisions…

It’s a new era…:)

Mimi Gregor

I, too, had quite long hair, slightly past my shoulders, and I was perfectly happy with it. One day, out of the blue, it just hit me: “Have your hair cut in a reverse-angled bob.” Actually, the “voice in my head” didn’t call it that; I just got the picture in my head of the cut. I actually had to do a bit of Googling to find out it’s name. But the next scheduled haircut, I had my stylist cut it, and when I went back, had her cut in even more of an angle. Next cut, I will have her take it a bit shorter (think Lady Mary after she had her hair bobbed on Downton Abbey). I am loving it!

Mimi Gregor

Re #5: I always wash my hair in the evening and blow it dry. My hair actually looks better and sleeker once it’s been slept on, so there is a method to my madness. Plus, it gives me time in the morning to do other things besides shower, like… oh, I dunno… read blogs….


Oh I would love to not have to dry my hair! I apparently missed that skill though. My hair is not quite shoulder length and I end up with this bumpy Medusa looking hair whenever I try to let it air dry. It’s awful. Maybe when it is longer I will suddenly be blessed with awesome air dry hair. :) Second day hair on the other hand? Totally on board with that! I am with you all with the hair cut urges. Happens EVERY TIME i get it remotely long.


I will be 74 this year, born blonde now silvery white ~~ hair touching my shoulders. I know THEY say, no long hair after passing a certain age. However, like the amazing ladies of France, I enjoy the natural look (think EmmyLou) and find it easier to camouflage the thinning I am experiencing. My hair looks its best on day four, sometimes day five! What would my French counterparts think? Horrors!

Kris B

I love my American look, am 58 and have dishwater blonde with tiny ash and champagne highlights.
Love having highlights and I do my own blowouts every day for swingy hair
Mine is just over the shoulder
Will go to Paris this fall just like I am, a classy American lady

Cathy C

Love this topic because I do think French women are so chic. When I saw the title 7 Things French Women Never Do…sans the hair part and looking at the picture, I thought the list would include “taking coffee to go”. I got such disapproving looks from the baristas every time I said “à empoter”…which is funny because they do have the paper cups. So much to learn.


All great Vicki! I always spray my perfume over my hair in a mist.

The Arts by Karena
The Centre Cannot Hold


Went for a trim last month. Got this notion in my head that the longer length was weighing my hair down and making my face look narrow. I’m not a fan of using a lot of product to add volumn so I thought a trim would help. Hairdresser suggested a slight layering in the back to add “dimension.” Well, I look and feel like a complete blockhead! My hair appears thicker but doesn’t move. I feel 10 year older! Nothing more youthful than having your locks swing around your shoulders! Now, if I could snap my fingers and instantly un-color it and enjoy my natural silver!
Love reading Vicki!

Wendy Shippee

Another great conversation!
About 6 months ago my hair was a few inches below my shoulders with long layers. I also got the bug to cut my hair and it was cut shoulder length. I felt stylish and light. Recently had my hair cut just a smidgen above my shoulders. My natural color is light brown. I have added varying amounts of highlights into my hair to balance out gray hair. The older I get the blonder I become. I have decided no to color my base and just blend my gray into highlights. Eventually I will allow my gray to take over. I have always thought, with the right cut and makeup the gray can look very lovely. Of course this train of thought may change with age!!


Like me Wendy… I haven’t coloured my hair for ten months… it does take willpower and I am still not sure but I will say it was an easy transition from the blonde highlights… In some ways it doesn’t look that much different!

cindy hattersley

I adhere to many of the above but I do use a blow drier. My hair is gray/white and if I let it dry naturally I would look like well an “older” lady! My go to products are moroccan oil and good ole John Frieda frizzease. I couldn’t live without either of these!


I totally agree with you as far as French women supposedly not dyeing their hair. I laughed when I read the Byrdie article that said that. Certainly they do! Hair salons and colorists are big business in France, and you can bet that most of those fashionably “sun-streaked” blondes you see in Paris are not natural. Not to mention many women of a certain age with colors never seen in nature.

btw, that’s Jeanne Damas in the picture, not Charlotte Gainsbourg- another beautiful French woman.


I was just in Paris this past January for Maison Objet and was staying in the 16th Passy area. I went to the local Salon to get a blow out and they took me immediately which I wasn’t expecting…..I was so surprised (as I was there for 2 hours) by the vast group of ladies (AND MEN) from say 15- 85 getting color (not just natural) blond highlights, blow outs etc…. All while throwing in a manicure. I have always held the prejudice that a French women’s beauty routine is natural- certainly not what I experienced that Friday! BTW… The best blow out and manicure I have ever received!!! Icing on the cake is that it was only $50 euro total which I would NEVER find in L.A. !!!

Melanie Snyder

My hairdresser is French. She used to have a salon in Paris. She is so much fun! I let her do what she wants and I always love it! Last cut, she put long layers in, choppy bangs and it looks great. I love that she speaks her mind about what looks good on me. (Plus I love the accent :) )


Vicki, you and I are one the same path. It takes me about two months for my hair to reach a new length before I have to go and have it trimmed. However this time the hair dresser really set me back! My husband said that I just need to bite the bullet and let it go for a while. Auhhhhh so hard to do! But I’m determined. I have a magazine picture of an older woman with long beautiful white hair posted on my vanity mirror to help encourage me. Good luck and keep us posted.


My only comment is take it easy on the perfume. Many people have sensitivities to scent. I see signs posted in so many places ( gyms, pool, doctor’s office, hospitals,etc.) I love my perfumes but rarely wear them now and when I do I make sure to spray and walk through.


Never use a hairdryer!
Twist it up in a knot when it’s damp, wake up with delicious waves in the morning.
Best hairstyle ever.


I’m sorry to tell you that many French ladies do wear accessories in their hair… ever look at photos of Bridgette Bardot? Always had flowers, or some kind of flowers in here hair.. you can’t get more French than Ms. Bardot!

Linda Kerr

I am 61 and have thick, ash blond hair w/grey streaks, halfway down my back. It is dry, so I only wash it once a week, and only with conditioner! It looks great! (Check Facebook if curious). I let it dry in a loose bun, at night, on a towel-lined pillow. I DO smooth it a little with a straightening iron on low, with protectant. I may get flack from this, but I think many Americans actually bathe too much. The bidet is great for between baths/showers.

Segreto Secrets

Love this post! French women know best and thank you for sorting out what is truth and what isn’t!!
xo. Leslie
Segreto Finishes


Can you go out with wet hair if it’s only as far as the car and you wind down the window to “blow dry”?


French women must wear hair accessories; Paris is one of the best places in the world to buy all kinds of things to wear in one’s hair. As a headband wearer, it’s always something for which I look. I’m afraid the authors weren’t quite accurate on this one!


Why all the hype with the ‘French woman ways’ ?? Just be yourself, this is natural in all
countries. Need to wash your hair everyday? so be it. Need to highlight or dye to give
the look you feel? Do it all with class….nothing else matters, being French is just once again
what Americans have hyped up since after WW two….come, come now…after all America
gets copied all the time in every country.

Catherine Lynn

Hello Vicki, interesting post as I just cut my hair short into a bob for the health of my dyed and lightened then dyed hair! now I have my own colour I am in love with it! Will go grey naturally and my dermatologist said that should sit well as people with blue grey eyes can wear their hair grey very easily. BUT I am missing my long hair a lot…..please grow hair please!…. I miss the swinging around the shoulders, the different styles both up and down to create different looks, the total lack of using a hair dryer and styling every time you wash your hair, and I miss my waves which only appear when my hair is a certain length!


My hair is my constant worry – I hate humidity and so does my hair! It is very fine, and I wash and dry it every day, otherwise I just don’t feel “right”. I have a wonderful hairdresser who knows exactly how to cut, and has given me some fantastic colours, but I am still going with the blonde / caramel colour for now. With everything else ageing, not sure I am ready to really let those “mature” hair colours win the battle! I am always looking for new styles (love Sienna Miller’s latest “do”) but as I don’t look anything like her and have a significant number of years on her, I will stay with the tried and true – longer at the front, shorter at the back, bob. I think it has made me look younger this week (or is that just that my eye exam is due???) As always, love reading your blog Vicki xxx

Gigi Thibodeau

Lately I’ve been doing my workouts in the evening, then showering and drying my hair at night. I like it so much better when I wash it in the evening! I can’t imagine not blow drying my hair in the winter (I’d freeze to death here in the snowy north!), but I rarely do in the summer. I just let the sea air do its thing, and I feel much freer then. I do dye my hair to cover the grays, but as close to my natural color as possible, with a few highlights added here and there. Great post, Vicki! I love reading what everyone else does with their hair.

Sherry Iris

I’m 52 and my hair is long (halfway down my back – too long) and I guess it’s my last ‘long hair’ phase due to being a ‘certain age’. I have always had my hair highlighted but with grey now becoming more apparent, I took the decision to stop having my hair coloured and embrace the grey.
It’s tough! I’m (just) about getting away with the regrowth as it looks a little ‘ombre’ and the shine I now have is a great reward but I have the urge now to have it all cut off. That will then cut out most of the colour and I will be completely natural. Yikes!

Doré @ BurlapLuxe

Oh this is what this French women does, i spray the parfum i,to the air in front of me and Walk into the falling mist. Making the scent even and not to heavy.
As for not washing the hair, I don’t wash two days in a row, and only touch up the roots with my same colour when need be.

Wonderful post, so enlightening.



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