How to Get that ‘French Chic’ Beauty
Expose Yourself to French Culture
I grew up loving all things French. Maybe because of watching Gene Kelly in ‘An American in Paris’, Grace Kelly in ‘To Catch a Thief’, and especially Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in ‘Funny Face’. Then there is quality. French love quality above all things. When I was little, my mom introduced me to Estee Lauder cosmetics. One of my first lipsticks was Estee Lauder in the color of Garnet. She would frown if I got anything from the drugstore. She had believed the quality of make up was better in department stores. So by the time I graduated from elementary school, I only used Estee Lauder and yearned to try the drugstore brands that were religiously advertised in magazines. Natural beauty was Milla Jovovich, Paulina Porizkova, Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford, Elle MacPherson, Rachel Hunter, Naomi Campbell, Jill Goodacre, and Nikki Taylor. I liked the natural makeup used in The Making of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. The models were not all French but they embody that natural French beauty — the pain-staking way to look effortlessly beautiful without seemingly making it obvious that a lot of make up was used.
Growing up I was very conscious of the sun, taking care of my skin with a nonallergenic high SPF sunscreen that had UVA & UVB protection (it must have both), and wearing a hat, as well as doing facial exercises every day. My mom had a magazine article taped behind the medicine cabinet where facial exercises were the thing to do daily.
Have an Ideal of what Natural Beauty is
Natural beauty for me was always less make up used . Think Leonor Varela, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and especially Isabelle Adjani at 39-years old as Queen Margot.
Queen Margot trailer:
Lighten up on the Make Up
The secret to French beauty is to emphasize one thing on the face. Not everything all at once. In America, it’s different, everything on the face is emphasized with make up, so much so that it doesn’t seem effortless but artificial, trying too hard to please–removing what the French call ‘mystery’.
When I was younger I was suckered into believing I had to cover every part of my face for it to be complete. I had the powder, the foundation, the concealer (didn’t know what I needed to conceal, but just needed to have it because it was advertised a lot; the lip liner, the lipstick, mascara, and all sorts of make up tools). I’m 38 years old now. I feel I don’t need much make up because my skin is clear. If I do my face, I just do my eyes carefully and put some sheer lipcolor as if I had bitten my lips to color it a little and throw on a bit of bronzer on the cheeks. I have a bit of age spots but not that much where I have to cover with unbreathable foundation. I feel ‘bien dans ma peau’ (comfortable in my skin). It is extremely important to take care of your skin, in that way you need less makeup and don’t end up horrifying your lover when you wake up looking like a different person after all the makeup comes off.
Find your Perfect Eyebrow Shape
I don’t have the need to drastically alter my face. Facials (without painful extractions) done by a professional is enough for me. The only thing that comes close to altering would be shaping my brows with a small Japanese scissor. I’m obsessed with brows after seeing how youthful Natasha Richardson looked after her brows were sculpted by Eliza Petrescu, who I think is hands down, the Queen of Eyebrows. Not too thin, not too thick. What I have noticed is that with just right eyebrows, one doesn’t need to wear a whole lot of makeup.
Use Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
The only make up brand that has been reliable for me is Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. When I first heard about Bobbi Brown it was all new in the ’90s. She was coming out with yellow-based foundations which were innovative, and she believed in enhancing the natural colors that already existed on the eyelids and cheeks and lips. Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is the only make up that I swear by.
Get Hair Designed to Match your Features
If I want my face balanced, then I must assess my face shape carefully. I do admit to myself I don’t look right without bangs (I wish I did because my sister looks great without bangs), I will opt for Louise Bourgoin bangs or Olga Kurylenko bangs like she had in Quantum of Solace or Sienna Miller in ‘Alfie’ or as the Baroness in ‘G.I. Joe’. If you want to know who has the #1 bangs, it’s young Jane Birkin. Effortless.
The trick I’ve learned with achieving the hair I like at a hair salon would be to find a celebrity who I have similar features with and bring photos of the hairstyle I like of them to the hair stylist. I usually request my hair get dry cut, especially my bangs, because wet hair when it dries tends to be shorter after a cut. I tell my stylist how I part my hair, what products I use to style it if there’s any. A good hair stylist will be truthful even if it hurts. Better to hear it from them than from others.
The Secret to ‘French Girl’ hair
I tried years and years to achieve the ‘French Girl’ hair where it looks effortless and I’ve finally achieved it by not washing my hair for about three days to let the volume build. Then I brushed it out so that the natural oils could distribute evenly. When I washed my hair in the shower, I just used a quarter size amount of shampoo, concentrating on massaging the hair (not scalp) on the top of my head and letting it rinse off and then towel drying it and that’s it. No brushing. No blow-drying.
Find your Signature Scent
It is important to have a signature scent that’s all your own. Apply it lightly enough so that you won’t make yourself or others dizzy in an enclosed space. You know you have it down when your guy is driven wild because he can’t figure out why you smell so incredible. Ah, ha! You just know how to dab it on the right spots! But don’t tell him that!
Know what Seduction is
Being confident is seductive.
To have that certain ‘je ne sais quois’ that French women have, try doing research by reading:
French Women Don’t Sleep Alone by Jamie Cat Callan
La Seduction by Elaine Sciolino
and some Robert Greene books because beauty as well as seduction involves strategy.
Speak with seductive and confident charm
Also, videotape yourself and review it like how athletes review their maneuvers to improve. It is horrifying watching yourself speak in front of others but you notice what you can improve after. For me, I tended to use a lot of filler words ‘um, uhh, ya know,’ so I’m practicing phasing that out of my vocabulary.
A deeper voice is always seductive if used right. I use to hate how deep my voice was because when I was younger I got teased a lot that I sounded like a guy. But now I love my voice.
Seductive female voices: Kathleen Turner, Charlotte Casiraghi, Lauren Bacall, Charlotte Rampling
If you speak seductively, you should also be a good listener. A good listener puts away the mobile phone and gives the person they are with their undivided attention–which sadly is a rare treat these days. If you can put away your phone for a person, you will definitely be unforgettable.
Perfect the Royal Posture
Practice posture. Posture is everything. Everyone will always notice someone who has a good posture. Think Angelina Jolie at award ceremonies. That powerful queenly stance. You won’t catch her slouching or huddling her shoulders.
Wear Lingerie all the Time not just on Special Occasions
Buy some matching soft lace lingerie in black and beige. You will feel sexy on the inside that eventually that sexiness will exude naturally from you and others will notice. When it’s time to fall asleep, especially with your husband or lover, never ever ever wear flannel pajamas. Faux pas! Unless you are camping.
Nail polish all you want as long as it’s Trimmed
Get your finely-trimmed nails done in red (stay away from claw nails).
Invest in a Full-length Mirror
Also, when dressing, it is best to review yourself in a full body mirror and see yourself how others see you from several feet away.
Be an Excellent Lover
For those over 18 and (safely) sexually active — to feel sexy in bed with your lover — try watching some Manuel Ferrara and Dana Vespoli videos before meeting him (or her). There is nothing wrong with watching some good porn, if anything, it helps you improve your technique so you won’t end up being called a ‘dead fish in bed’.
Aging happens to everyone, so accept it gracefully
Beautiful ladies who have aged gracefully:
Carmen Dell’Orefice, Diane Lane, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Charlotte Rampling, Helen Mirren, Gong Li, Halle Berry, Judi Dench, Kate Moss, Elle MacPherson, Jennifer Beals
Shop for Timeless Style not Trends
Don’t go for trends. Go for something that stands through time. When I pick out clothes, I think to myself, “Can I wear this in a couple of years?” The answer must always be ‘yes’ in order for me to buy it.
Elle Peyarre’s Make-up must-haves:
These are the tools that have worked for me that I feel give me that effortless French look
- Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir spray (You can get a travel size at Sephora.)
- La Mer moisturizing cream. (You can find this at Nordstrom.)
- Bobbi Brown cosmetics (especially applying Mahogany eyeshadow with a brow brush lightly on my sculpted brows) and Bobbi Brown face oil for cold dry days (This brand is sold at Nordstrom.)
- Japonesque Precision Brow Groomer
- Resveratrol pills because of Caudalie’s research on Resveratrol. (Whole Foods doesn’t sell Caudalie products. They do sell some Resveratrol pills — make sure you’re not allergic to it.)
- Jamie Cat Callan’s book ‘French Women Don’t Sleep Alone‘ at my bedside (refer as often to it as needed)