If there’s one thing I truly love about French style and beauty, it’s the focus on being fuss-free and making the most of what you have.
I have spent the majority of my life being the antithesis of just that, slathering my face with foundation and straightening the heck out of my hair. While in North America that was almost necessary to fit in, in France it makes you stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a tired assumption, but it’s actually true – French women tend to be more au naturel when it comes to the way they do themselves up.
So I’ve learned. I’ve lessened the amount of makeup I put on, and put down the heating products. I’ve even figured out how to do my hair à la française – or, at least in the fashion of French beauty icons like Jeanne Damas.
Why is this something worth telling you about? Because it’s improved the health of my locks, helped me embrace my hair’s natural texture, is cost effective, and makes getting ready for work in the morning a cinch.
I’ll be the first to admit that the majority of so-called French girl beauty tips are stereotypical nonsense, but with positives and perks like these, this is one that is actually worth looking into.
1. Get a simple hair cut
The first step to simplifying your hair care routine is to get a cut that’s low maintenance. Avoid anything that would require a considerable amount of styling. Discuss “wash and go” options with your hairstylist – they’ll suggest some styles that are low maintenance but that’ll suit your hair type.
2. Don’t dye your hair
While it’s slightly controversial to say, I’m a firm believer in your natural hair colour being the one that suits you best and looks the most natural. It’s also the least fussy option, as you don’t need to constantly go to the salon to touch up your colour or spruce up your highlights.
What’s more, hair dye – bleach in particular – can alter the natural texture of your hair, and not always in a good way.
3. Go easy on the conditioner
Caroline de Maigret famously skips conditioner because she says it makes her hair go flat. While I can’t say I agree with cutting conditioner out of your hair care routine completely, if you have hair that’s prone to being weighed down, it’s best not to douse your strands with it in the shower.
To keep your hair nourished but still voluminous, I’d recommend putting conditioner only on the tips of your hair when showering.
4. Wash your hair the night before
In the tongue-in-cheek tome on French beauty, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are, the writers recommend taking a shower the night before and sleeping on it slightly damp because it gives it a more interesting shape.
While most of the advice in the book is questionable at best, I was intrigued by this lazy method of hair styling and decided to give it a go. I was surprised to wake up with hair that was bent in all the right places and that had more of a natural lift and volume.
In all honesty, the fact I have naturally wavy hair probably contributed to this effect. If you have naturally straight hair, I would recommend braiding it after showering and sleeping on it overnight to help give it more of a messy curl.
5. Use dry shampoo and sea salt spray for texture
To get that bedhead look, I follow up my quite literally getting out of bed in the morning with some dry shampoo and sea salt spray. I put dry shampoo at the roots – the crown in particular – in order to make it more voluminous. Afterwards, I clip up half of my hair, spritz it with sea salt spray, then let the rest down and spray that.
This methods gives me that disheveled beach wave effect that makes me look like I spent my day at the Côte d’Azur instead of strapped behind my desk at work. Better yet, it can be done in three minutes flat from start to finish.
6. Don’t wash your hair every day
Washing your hair every day zaps your hair of its natural oils and leaves it looking dry and flat. Washing your hair every other day (at least) will leave it healthier and more voluminous – not to mention will give you more texture to work with if you fancy putting it up into a messy ballerina bun or French twist.
7. Trim your fringe yourself
If you have a fringe, I’d strongly recommend learning how to trim it yourself instead of relying on your hairdresser to do it. In addition to being easy to do, it tends to leave your fringe looking tousled and carefree – think Lou Doillon and Anna Karina – instead of severe and structured.
That said, I have seen an unnerving amount of modern-day French socialites claim that they snip their fringe themselves with a hefty pair of kitchen scissors. While this is a nonchalant way of going about things, I’d save yourself a horrifying haircut and use standard hair-cutting shears instead.