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French Women’s Top 4 Beauty Secrets

We’re not usually ones for gross generalizations, but it must be said: French women know how to do beauty. Over the years, they’ve mastered the blasé gorgeous effect: bare, glowing skin; big eyes; and a nonchalant swipe of crimson lipstick. Stripes optional, cigarette need not apply. With dreams of achieving a bit of that Marion Cotillard glamour, we asked our Birchbox France counterparts for their best beauty secrets. “French women use beauty products to enhance their natural look and physique,” says Brand Relationship Assistant Aude. “We are flexible about our appearance—we can go without makeup and don’t mind messy hair.” Bedhead? We can handle that. As for the rest, read on.

Trust Kitchen Remedies

When we polled the Birchbox France ladies, we found out that every one of them had a DIY beauty remedy (or two or three) that they swore by. Aude creates a fortifying mask out of avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, and yogurt and applies it to her hair once a week. Community Manager Marie soaks her nails in argan oil and lemon to keep them strong and stain-free. For all-around health, Studies Director Amelie loves roucou seeds (also called annatto or achiote), which are full of vitamin A, magnesium, and carotenoise to help protect skin from the sun. And they even ward off insects (who knew?).

Less is More (Except When It Comes to Skincare)

While the Birchbox France staffers say they are likely to forgo heavy makeup on a daily basis, they never skimp on skincare. Marie says, “I’m a fan of the layering technique: oil cleanser, plus a cleaning gel, followed by lotion, plus serum, plus a day/night moisturizer, plus sun blocker, plus foundation.” After removing whatever makeup they do wear, many spray on a light mist of rose water or Avène thermal water to calm skin and give it a toned effect.

Think Natural

From silicones to parabens, French ladies don’t want synthetics anywhere near their hair or skin. “We look for simplicity before everything else,” says Executive Assistant Farah. They’re devoted to plant- and flower-based ingredients like olive oil, honey, shea butter, and grape extracts. It’s no wonder that some of their (and our) favorite French brands rely on these powerhouse ingredients: Caudalie makes inventive and effective use of grape extracts, and Nuxe employs honey in many of its healing products.

When in Doubt, Fake It

The key to mimicking French style? Confidence. Amelie says, “For French women, everything is about style and attitude.” Good products don’t hurt either. Get the Parisienne beauty look with the help of the Birchbox France editors’ tried-and-adored favorites: Caudalie, Nuxe, Avène, Bourjois, Lancome, By Terry, and Guerlain.

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