It's a look we all strive for but few achieve. The done-undone, the effortless put together look of French girl chic. It's like they're born that way, wake up like that. They utilise a few key products and techniques that takes little time and minimal skill. So us mere mortal un-french ladies, how can we mimic this polished yet slightly rock 'n' roll beauty look? Eliza asked me my top tips...écoutez-moi!
What are your tips for French-girl base makeup? What kind of finish do French women prefer, what products to they use? Do they use brushes, hands, any specific type of technique?
The french aesthetic is all about the undetectable. A base therefore would never be a medium or full coverage foundation, more like a tinted moisturiser, if anything at all. Then where redness, blemishes or discolouration needs to be covered, a concealer would be used, on just those areas. Guerlain’s ’Terracotta Joli Teint' is ideal as a base due to it’s creamy, lightweight texture that also has spf20 built-in. Definitely applied with fingers, from the centre of the face outwards, until it blends to nothing around the jawline. Using fingers with the concealer too will warm it up and aid in applying to your skin seamlessly. Benefit have a vast range of concealers which are great as you can tailor the coverage as well as choose say, a more creamy finish for under the eye, then more matte for around the face. It’s very important to set your makeup too, but the french style is much more specific. Using a small, fluffy brush, take some loose translucent powder and apply on targeted areas; around the nose, chin and middle of forehead. Aside from perhaps a tiny bit under the eyes to set the concealer…that’s it, the rest is left with it’s natural skin glow. Anastasia Beverley Hills has some great powders that are loose and silky (the colourless is fab as it’s invisible and suits all skintones), she even has one which is ‘banana’ toned to brighten the complexion, especially good for the under eye area.
What would you say is the modern ‘French lip’? What are you tips for application, any
Well this is easy…it’s either a super hydrating lipbalm (I love the Tatcha one), a tinted balm (Monika Blunders are fantastic) or a classic red lipstick. Effortless is always the name of the game when it come to french beauty so with the red, a few dabs from the bullet then smush it in with your finger or better yet, take some pigment on your fingertip and press into the lips, mainly in the middle of the mouth. Press your lips together and keep blending in with your finger, working outwards so you achieve a blurred edge…almost like you’ve been sipping red wine in a café, whilst french kissing your lover ;-)
For a classic red lip, it has to be Chanel. The gold and black casing is the epitome of french style. For blonde’s I’d go for a more orangey-red, brunette’s a more blue-red.
(their new ‘Rouge Allure Extrait’ collection now comes with refills, très bien!)
How could readers achieve French eye makeup? Any
tips/tricks on how to achieve this?
Again it’s about being minimal and subtle. When it comes to eye makeup, mascara is key but even more important is curling your lashes. Even on a no-makeup day a french girl will curl her lashes and be done. I like the Kevyn Aucoin one as it opens quite wide (great if you find it tricky to use) and the red band is an easier guide for your lashes to sit in. Then a slick of mascara, not too much as you want to make your lashes appear ’tinted’ more than thick and voluminous. A defining, lengthening mascara like Victoria Beckham’s ‘Future Lash' would be ideal.
Liner needs to be soft and smudgy. Hourglass's ‘Voyeur’ pencils are super soft so can be used around and inside the eye. For some subtle definition, scribble a small amount on the upper eyelid, on the outer edges then smudge in with your finger. For evening, line the inner waterline then close your eyes tightly, thus smudging the liner in for a more rock 'n’roll finish.
Brows are also key, they need to be bushy, wispy and not too dark. Skip plucking them and let them go wild for a bit (Shavata’s 'Brow Strengthener' with castor oil will aid growth). Brush them up with a clear or tinted brow gel, Anastasia’s ‘Brow Freeze’ is amazing to keep the hairs in place. Make an appointment at ‘BrowBar London’ for 'eyebrow lamination. A game changer for a fuller yet natural look. They’ll tint, shape and laminate your brow hairs into a straight and upward finish so you’re left with full fluffy brows with minimal effort, so chic.
When it comes to contouring/blush/bronze, what is the modern French approach?
I’d say contour is a big no-no when it comes to the french ideal. To sculpt the face, use your bronzer as your contour. As with a lot of these tips, it’s all about multi-tasking and saving time so you can go and live your most stylish life. Take the bronzer around and into your hairline, under your cheekbones (starting from the ear for the concentration of pigment) a little on the chin and down your neck. Swipe it over the bridge of your nose too, dusting along the tops of the cheeks, ditto with your blusher…you want to look a tiny bit sunburnt. (I like the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer, it’s huge and refillable, with no sheeny particles, french girls don’t do glitter!)
Blusher is integral, ideally in a cream formula so it meshes with the skin’s texture and becomes part of your face fabric. Start just below the outer iris, slightly higher up the cheek than the ‘apple’, that’s your starting point. Blend back and downwards from there, until you have a seamless edge. (Westman Atelier has some wonderful ‘Blush Sticks' in a range of shades that are super easy to use)
Are there any other French girl makeup secrets/tips you could share with our readers?
Skin prep is key before any makeup application. When applying your serums and moisturisers (the more hydrating the better) give yourself a little facial massage, use a gua sha if you can too. @theguasha has some great options
Cream highlighter is a quick cheat to a french girl glow. RMS beauty is ideal as there’s no shimmer so it mimic’s health and radiance. Dab on top of cheekbones, eyelids, down the bridge of the nose and cupids bow…use sparingly.
When curling your lashes, don’t clamp down. Close the curlers softly on your lashes and give it a ‘pumping’ action for a lighter, more curved curl, rather than a harsh bend.
After curling your lashes, opt for a waterproof mascara. It holds a curl for much longer and ‘higher’. Brush through with a clean mascara wand for a more natural ’tinted’ finish.
French girls love a multi-use product. Once your red lip is on, take your middle finger, nab some from your lips and dab it on your cheeks. Instant blusher that’s tonally in line with your lips, magnifique!
Tools are minimal but a few key brushes is all you’ll need; invest in quality ones and it’s a one time purchase. A tapered powder brush, medium bronzer/blusher, a brow spoolie and a couple of eye brushes; a long, fluffy one to blend and a smaller, denser one for detail work. (an investment but I love the Surrat brushes)
Once your eyeliner pencil is on, use a small, stubby brush to smudge it right into the lashes (so they appear thicker at the root) then for extra lift and a Parisienne cat-eye, flick the liner (with the same brush) outwards, up toward the tail of the brow.
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