We’ll say it: no one nails the art of effortless beauty like French girls. Call it a stereotype if you’d like, but French girls always seem to have the most beautiful makeup looks. Considering that France is home to some of beauty’s biggest names (think L’Oréal, Guerlain and Clarins), it only makes sense that the French way of life is laced with nods to the country’s roots in beauty.
It only takes a couple of minutes of roaming the streets in Paris to spot that French women know how to apply their makeup. Their skin is plump, smooth and glowing, their brows appear effortlessly preened, and their cheeks radiate a flush so healthy it leaves you wondering what their secret is. But wonder no more because we've reached out to French makeup artist Ewa Ciezkowska to uncover the six makeup tips French girls swear by.
1. Skincare Is Makeup
This rule comes out on top as it is something that French women all over the world echo. That plump, radiant glow? It’s all down to their skin prep, rather than their makeup. “The most important thing is to really to take care of your skin. You should massage it, mask frequently and have good treatments. Before you apply a beautiful makeup look, you need a good skincare routine,” says Ciezkowska.
This face cream, from one of our favourite French beauty brands By Terry, is truly exceptional for delivering plumping hydration. It contains different weights of hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin at every level, meaning it’s a great way to prep the skin first thing.
Another French beauty staple, this soothing and softening facial mist makes for the ultimate skin refresh. It helps to reduce redness, boost glow and relieve skin of any dryness.
2. Red Lipstick Is a Staple
What is a French makeup routine without a red lipstick? “Since the pandemic a lot of people’s makeup preferences have changed. People are spending more time on their complexion and have swapped their lipsticks for a balm. But we all know that a red lip that you can’t take your eyes off is probably the most iconic French makeup look,” says Ciezkowska.
This lipstick from Dior (999) is potentially one of the most universally adored reds around. The cool tone makes lips pop and is flattering on virtually every skin tone.
Guerlain is an iconic French makeup brand, and these refillable lipsticks are about as chic as they come. Not only are the shades and formulas beautiful, but the changeable cases turn applying your lipstick into a very aesthetically pleasing art.
3. Use Mascara Wisely
French-girl makeup never looks particularly ‘done’. Yes, the look is typically neat, polished and radiant, but the secret to a really great look is to disguise the makeup altogether—and this is something that French girls know how to do. Ciezkowska says, “It’s all about keeping your complexion looking fresh and bright, and making sure your eyes reflect that too with just a dashing of mascara. You want to feel fresh and well in your skin.”
This super-lengthening mascara delivers French-girl lashes in just one coat. Wiggle the brush into the roots of your lashes and drag through for lightweight length that still looks natural.
Another way of keeping lashes looking natural and your eyes looking radiant is by swapping your black mascara for a brown. It’s not as heavy but still gives a polished look.
4. Foundation Isn’t Important
Covering up all of the hard work your skincare does to boost glow and deliver radiance will only leave your skin looking dull and unnatural. Instead, French girls like to opt for lightweight bases. “Start with a good face cream and then use a brightening CC serum to give a radiant glow. By Terry Brightening CC Serum is a hero product in my makeup bag,” says Ciezkowska.
Available in four different colour-correcting shades, from apricot to rosy pink, it can be applied on its own, under a tinted moisturiser or used as a light-reflecting highlight. “It really freshens up the skin and evens out your skin tone, no matter what you’ve been through the day before. It’s particularly good in the morning if you’ve had a late night,” she adds.
5. Use Lipstick for Everything
A great French-girl makeup routine shouldn’t take a lot of time or effort. “Use your lipstick for almost everything. You can use it on your lips, on your cheeks as a blush, and even on your eyes. You end up with a makeup look that ties in really nicely that is really quick to do,” says Ciezkowska. For a versatile lipstick, look for a wearable nude or blush pink that will work well for a monochromatic look.
This balmy lipstick has a glowing sheen that will look just as great on cheeks and lids as it does the lips.
A subtle wash of deep rouge is the perfect way to freshen up cheeks.
6. Liquid Formulas Reign Supreme
Matte formulas like powders and full-coverage putties are out of the question when it comes to trying to nail that iconic French-girl glow. “Liquid products hydrate the skin much better and achieve a glowing look quicker than matte products. They deliver the perfect natural-looking base,” advises Ciezkowska. And the best bit is, they can be applied easily with fingers or a multi-use blending brush for super-quick application.
Nars might be predominantly considered US brand, but the founder himself, François Nars, was born and bred in France, meaning he really understands the French makeup ethos. This tinted moisturiser provides lightweight coverage that leaves natural skin shining through in the most effortlessly beautiful of ways.
Dab this tinted jelly into the apples of your cheeks for a fresh flush that oozes health and radiance.