French women are known for their effortless beauty and glowing skin, which has been attributed to their simple yet effective skincare routines. After living in France, I’ve collected some of the best French skincare tips to use at home and am sharing them all here.
Why is French skincare so good?
The French approach to skincare is all about prevention. French women understand that it’s better to take care of their skin proactively rather than waiting for problems to arise. It’s all about embracing natural beauty and aging gracefully.
French women understand that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and they prioritize looking and feeling their best at any age. This approach to skincare helps to promote a healthy mindset and a positive relationship with the skin.
They also prioritize using high-quality skincare products that are formulated with natural ingredients and are gentle on the skin, which I share below. This helps to prevent damage and maintain a healthy complexion.
French Skincare Tips: How do the French take care of their skin?
In contrast to the multi-step skincare routines popularized in other parts of the world, French women focus on quality over quantity and prioritize cleansing, hydration, and nourishment.
They also understand the importance of lifestyle factors, such as diet and sleep, in achieving healthy skin. Incorporating some of these French skincare tips into your routine can help you achieve a radiant complexion and a healthy glow, just like the women in France.
Keep It Simple
In general, French women believe that using too many products can actually harm your skin and lead to irritation or breakouts. Instead, they focus on using just a few high-quality products that are gentle on the skin and address their specific concerns.
For example, a typical French skincare routine might include a gentle cleanser, a hydrating serum, a lightweight moisturizer, and sunscreen. They may also use a facial mist or toner to refresh and hydrate the skin throughout the day.
The idea behind keeping your skincare routine simple is that it allows your skin to breathe and function as it naturally would, without being overwhelmed by a barrage of products. It also helps to avoid potential interactions between different ingredients that could lead to irritation or render the products ineffective.
Of course, everyone’s skin is unique, so it’s essential to listen to your skin’s needs and adjust your routine accordingly. But by keeping things simple and focusing on quality over quantity, you may find that your skin looks and feels healthier and more radiant.
Use Gentle Cleansers
As already mentioned, the French tend to stick to gentle skincare products when they’re building a skincare routine. This includes the type of cleansers they use.
With the exception of a medically diagnosed skin condition, most skin types benefit from gentle cleansers, even acne-prone skin.
It’s believed that harsh cleansers often strip the skin of essential oils and dry out skin, which can cause normal to dry skin to feel extra dry and dull, while provoking acne-prone skin into producing more sebum and, therefore, cause breakouts.
A favorite French cleanser is this Caudalie foaming mousse. If you’re looking for something that will also wash off your eye make up when you’re washing your face, this Neutrogena Naturals cleanser is great.
Moisturizing is a crucial aspect of any skincare routine, and it is particularly important in the French approach to skincare. French women understand that keeping the skin well-hydrated is essential for maintaining a healthy, youthful-looking complexion.
One reason why moisturizing is so important is that it helps to prevent water loss from the skin.
When the skin is dry, it can become tight, itchy, and prone to wrinkles and fine lines. Moisturizing helps to replenish the skin’s natural moisture barrier, keeping it soft, supple, and healthy-looking.
In the French approach to skincare, moisturizing is typically done twice a day, in the morning and at night. French women often use lightweight moisturizers that absorb quickly into the skin and don’t leave a heavy or greasy feeling.
They also prioritize using products that are specifically formulated for their skin type, whether it’s dry, oily, or combination. For example, I have normal to dry skin, and I love using Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Brightening Moisturizer in the morning (super lightweight!), as well as the brand’s Premier Cru anti-aging cream for the evening (which feels just a bit richer and creamier!).
French women also understand the importance of using the right ingredients in their moisturizers. Many French skincare products are formulated with natural ingredients that help to hydrate and nourish the skin.
For example, French women often use moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid, which helps to attract and retain moisture in the skin. They may also use products that contain nourishing oils, like argan or jojoba oil, to help soothe and hydrate the skin.
Finally, French women understand that moisturizing isn’t just about the products you use on your skin but also about how you apply them.
They often take their time when applying moisturizer, using gentle massage techniques (think upward, gentle strokes) to help the product absorb into the skin fully, and they never forget to apply the moisturizer to their décolletage (the neckline) too!
French women prioritize keeping their skin hydrated to maintain its plumpness and radiance. They understand that dehydration can lead to a dull complexion, fine lines, and wrinkles.
To keep their skin hydrated, French women often incorporate a hydrating serum into their skincare routine. These serums are typically lightweight and contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or aloe vera, which can help to attract and retain moisture in the skin.
Facial mists are also a popular way to hydrate the skin throughout the day. French women often carry a mist with them and spritz their face whenever they feel their skin needs a boost of hydration. You’ll even see Evian facial sprays available in many grocery stores.
One of the most popular facial mists across Paris (and even in the States) is the Caudalie Beauty Elixir.
In addition to using hydrating products, French women also prioritize drinking plenty of water and eating hydrating foods. They understand that what you put into your body can impact the health of your skin.
Foods like cucumber, watermelon, and leafy greens are high in water content and can help keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
Don’t Skip the Eye Cream
One of the most delicate areas of the skin includes the area around the eyes. It’s thin and prone to wrinkles, making an eye cream essential in the French skincare routine.
Like the rest of the French skincare steps, the French take a preventative approach to caring for the skin around their eyes. While Botox and other medical treatments are commonplace in the States, they’re not as common in France.
Instead, French women learn to use products like eye cream early on to prevent premature aging. Popular eye creams in France include the cult favorite, Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Eye Cream.
This eye cream is particularly great if you’re 50 years or older as it has lifting properties to help plump up the skin around the eyes.
Exfoliate and Detoxify
France has incredible spas throughout the country, with facials being one of the more popular spa treatments French women receive.
But even if a French woman can’t get in for a facial treatment, she’s sure to use some kind of exfoliant or detoxifying mask at home.
Again, gentle is key here, as anything that is too aggressive in nature would upset the delicate skin of the face, including its elasticity and natural oil balance.
A favorite French mask is the Caudalie Vitaminc C mask, which not only helps clear out pores, but it helps minimize their appearance as well. This mask also dries very quickly and rinses off pretty easily.
Your skin will be glowing after using a mask like that in a home facial session!
Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is crucial for healthy skin, and the French take their beauty sleep seriously. They aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help their skin repair and rejuvenate.
Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of skin problems, including breakouts, dullness, and premature aging.
It helps that the normal workday starts a bit later than most places in America, but it’s also rare to see any woman glorifying how little sleep she’s gotten, like many do in the States.
In France, maintaining balance in one’s life is always the objective, and that includes a proper balance of work, social life, and adequate sleep.
Manage Stress Levels
French women understand the importance of taking care of their overall health and well-being. They prioritize eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress levels.
These habits not only benefit their skin but also contribute to overall health and longevity.
French women prioritize self-care and indulging in small luxuries. Whether it’s taking a relaxing bath, enjoying a glass of wine, or reading a good book, French women understand the importance of taking time for themselves and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
You can follow all the skincare routines in the world, but if you’re not getting ample sleep or managing the amount of stress in your life, then those routines won’t do your skin any good.
What the French Could Do Better
As wonderful as French women are about maintaining good skincare routines, there are a couple of practices that can be improved in French culture.
The first, perhaps most obvious point is their habit of smoking. While smoking is considered one of life’s many pleasures in France, it’s a proven fact that smoking leads to premature aging.
Not all French women smoke, so there are many French women who understand this and avoid it. In fact, while I don’t have any statistics on French smoking in recent years, it was my personal observation that the amount of smoking in Paris had decreased after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other area in which French women could improve when it comes to their skincare routines is getting better at incorporating sunscreen.
Perhaps it’s the Californian in me, but I am an avid user of sunscreen. I apply a broad spectrum sunscreen (I love this non-greasy one!) everyday under my moisturizer.
Because Paris doesn’t get as much sun, I can understand Parisians not being as accustomed to incorporating sunscreen into their daily beauty routines, but the fact is that you’re being exposed to the sun’s harmful effects even on cloudy days.
Also, the French tend to love a good tan still, but as every dermatologist will tell you, there’s no such thing as a safe tan, and using sunscreen is one of the easiest ways you can prevent damage to your skin.
If you can avoid smoking, or really any harmful substances, use sun protection, and incorporate the French skincare practices I shared here, you’re well on your way to beautiful, radiant, and healthy skin!