Revealed: seven skincare secrets of French women

I owe a lot of my take on health and beauty to my French backgroundI never truly realised this until deciding to write French Complexion, a book about my skincare philosophy (available online at Book Depository). When I started putting all I know about skin onto paper I began reflecting on the impact of French culture on my approach to treating skin – personally and professionally.

I’d like to share some of my French skincare wisdom, so your complexion can benefit too. 

1- Nurture your skin

French women take skincare seriously and make time for their skin, no matter how busy their life is. They don’t consider skincare as a chore, but an enjoyable ritual – a treat for the senses … the delicate scent of face cream, the way your skin feels after a gentle exfoliation, the glow you get from the regular use of a serum. Bliss!

My tips:

  • Skin responds well to rituals: a daily skincare regime can delay ageing by keeping skin well conditioned, hydrated, nourished and protected.
  • Cleanse and moisturise twice a day. Your skin will say merci for it!

2- Don’t forget sun care

It’s no secret (especially in Australia where I currently live) that prolonged sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer. Generally speaking, the French are more concerned about ‘photoageing’ that manifests in the appearance of deep wrinkles and pigmentation. This is why all reputable French skincare brands include high quality sunscreens.

My tip: 

  • NO sunscreen can guarantee 100% protection against sun damage, but for maximum efficacy choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high factor (at least 30+) and apply liberally to your skin at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. And don’t forget to cover all exposed areas including your neck and décolletage.

3- Indulge in facial masking

French women absolutely love facial masks. Once or twice a week, they religiously cover their skin with carefully selected products: a green clay mask when their skin breaks out, a rich and creamy one in winter, or a brightening formula before a romantic rendezvous. 

My tips: 

  • It only takes 10 to 20 minutes to treat your face and taking adequate time for the mask to work its magic can make a world of difference. So, mask your skin: you won’t look back!
  • If need be, you can use different masks on various parts of your face to treat specific skin concerns e.g. absorbing excess oil from the T-zone and hydrating everywhere else.

4- Support your skin with food 

French people are renowned for their love of rich and sweet foods. That said, the vast majority of my compatriots are acutely aware of how nutritional overindulgence can affect their complexion, e.g. pimples and under-eye dark circles: oh non! This is why they tend to be disciplined in their daily diet – fresh food, small portions, home-cooked meals, lots of fruits and vegetables as well as regular light-eating days. This way they can thoroughly enjoy regular four-course lunches with family and friends.

My tips:

  • Don’t view foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but enjoy everything in moderation! No point in depriving yourself (except in cases of food allergy or medical restrictions).
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables of different colours to ensure a broad intake of skin-enhancing phytonutrients.

5- Show off your natural complexion

In France, authenticity is celebrated. A natural beauty look is always seen as most attractive. This means: no heavy make-up, just a touch of colour to subtly enhance the complexion and voilà!

My tips:

  • If you’re experiencing skin problems, use make-up (preferably natural mineral-based) to temporarily disguise, but do not ignore the underlying issue. Seek expert advice to find the right ‘cocktail’ of products containing active ingredients to improve your skin.
  • The healthier your skin is, the less you’ll want – or need – to cover it. For light make-up coverage, choose a BB or CC cream rather than foundation.

6- Appreciate your true beauty

When you grow up in France, you become culturally attuned to appreciating beauty – in everything and everyone. This means that, as an older woman, you can still be seen as ‘beautiful’ as long as you continue to take pride in your appearance and exude self-confidence and personality.

My tips: 

  • Accept ageing as an integral part of life: if you embrace ageing, you also embrace life.
  • Never believe that you’re too old to pamper yourself and look after your skin.

7- Think young, feel young 

Looking youthful has a lot to do with the level of enthusiasm and passion we choose to instill into our life. When we decide to be fully engaged with people and follow our heart, we are more likely to be happy and radiate a youthful je ne sais quoi. The French totally embrace these principles: they are emotional people who see their existence as one big passionate affair.

My tips:

  • Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating impact that positive thinking can have on your skin.
  • Follow your passion, whatever this might be. If you love what you do, it will show on your face.

In conclusion, my French background has greatly influenced my holistic outlook on skin – allowing me to see it as a responsive organ and an integral part of who we are. 

What skincare wisdom or tips have you learnt from your own cultural background and upbringing? Leave a comment below.

Christine Clais
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