It’s easy to be envious of French women. It seems they can roll out of bed, throw on anything, and look perfectly poised and polished — without effort. So what exactly is behind their “je ne sais quoi”?
In case you didn’t know, “je ne sais quoi” literally translates to that which cannot be adequately defined. We weren’t willing to take that for an answer, so we rounded up advice from five French women on their best beauty secrets. (You’re welcome.)
Secret #1: Go bold.
Although she hails from New York City, DORÉ Editorial Director Veronica McCarthy got real with us about trying to pull off French cool-girl vibes while representing Garance Dore’s online publication.
“I went to Paris for work this past January with the lofty goal of ‘passing as a Parisian.’ For the first six days, it was fruitless. My eager eyes and overcompensating hand gesticulations gave me away before I even opened my mouth. But on the seventh day, something magical happened. I was exhausted but pulled myself together to meet friends for dinner — i.e. no makeup, messy hair, and a red lip. I got into my Uber and simply said ‘Bonsoir’ before slumping over (remember, exhaustion). About ten minutes into the ride, I asked my driver for a phone charger (in English), at which point he slammed on the brakes in surprise. He thought I was French! The lesson I learned — always wear a red lip with clean skin and no other makeup. It's chic, unexpected, and thus, very French.”
Secret #2: Hydrate your skin.
For Parisian blogger Lina Ose, mother knows best. “For the care of my face, my mother always told me that the base of beautiful skin is good hydration,” she tells us. “I use pure shea butter because I have dry skin and cleanse my face daily.” Additionally, Ose opts for a less-is-more mentality during certain climates. “With the heat of summer in Paris, I wear less makeup. I use bronzer to unify my complexion and add a line of eyeliner and a swipe of mascara to emphasize the look.”
Secret #3: Age naturally.
Similarly, Caroline Lestang of PardonMyObsession, follows her mama’s lead when it comes to skincare. “My mom has never done anything to her face — no Botox, [face] lifting, absolutely nothing,” she shares. “It's totally OK to age naturally. I believe in staying away from the sun — or at least applying sunscreen daily — and using the right products for your face. I [also] believe in cutting yourself some slack: Be gentle towards your face and body!”
Secret #4: Try holistic hair care.
Parisian-born and currently Portland-based influencer Claire Mosteghanemi relies on holistic hair remedies passed down from her family. Her dad’s natural DIY recipe? “To hydrate your hair, use yogurt with honey as your hair mask. Leave it for 20 minutes, then rinse out. I guess a lot of people would rather eat it, [but] it’s actually really good for your hair.”
The second might sound superstitious, but her grandmother swears by it: “Only cut your ends during a full moon, so your hair can grow faster and stronger!”
Secret #5: Style your hair effortlessly.
Olena Beley, founder of Pop the Pimple, is known for sharing her skincare knowledge on her blog and YouTube channel, but she spilled the beans to us on maintaining Parisian-chic hair.
“The secret is in minimal effort with maximum results — you don’t want to look like you’ve spent hours on your hair. After the shower, instead of drying your hair to a crisp, dry it only to the almost-dry point and put it up in an easy bun. This leaves you to do your fabulous skincare routine (including sunscreen) and then makeup. After you’re done, undo the bun and VOILÀ: tousled, carefree waves — adding back some texture to the hair without needing a single extra heat-styling tool or spending more time on your hair.”
By Katie Davidson