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I live in France and this is my favourite make up

September 2, 2022

We all know the myth- a French woman rolls out of bed in the morning, grabs the first thing from the clothes pile, applies red lipstick and gets on with her day looking drop-dead gorgeous. I hope you know by now that this is a clever marketing ploy that was successfully sold to the rest of the world. Whilst we know that the unstudied look actually takes effort, having lived in France for four years I see that there is a certain ease to the way they approach beauty.

For French women, it’s never really about a complete makeover. Skin baking (remember it?) and heavily contouring never really caught on in France. For French women is all about enhancing rather than changing.

They learned what their best features are and magnify them whilst leaving the rest seemingly undone. So whether it’s their eyes and long, fluttery lashes brought out with a soft shadow and mascara, or plump lips in fire engine red, the look seems natural and effortless.

Then there is the application of make-up. A lot of the time it's done with their fingers rather than brushes for a less than perfect, lived-in effect. French women like a slightly messy look because it implies effortlessness.

I’ve looked into French women’s make-up bags many times and over time my own one got leaner and leaner until it slimmed down to bare essentials- until my make-up bag resembled that of my French sisters. Here is what's in it:

  • Chanel water-based foundation- I’m on my 4th bottle and I've long stopped using anything else. I love its barely here lightweight formula that lets my skin texture shines through. For French women, the goal is to glow not to cover up. It goes without saying that a proper diet, lots of water and a regular skincare routine are the biggest factors in the glow effect.
  • A bronzer— a popular look is one that Emmanuelle Alt often used to sport- a subtle golden tan and flushed cheeks. It's a "just got back from a weekend at the seaside" look and it's my favourite because it's super flattering and natural. My favourite bronzers are Chanel Les Beiges cream bronzer, Guerlain Terracota for winter complexion and Nars Laguna bronzing powder, which has a beautiful hue but is quite strong so I keep it for the summer months
  • Nude pink lipstick- for natural, yours-but-better lips. For me, it's Charlotte Tilbury pillow talk- always, always come back to it.
  • Too Faced Damn Girls mascara- I’ve been avoiding wearing mascara for years as it always makes me look like one of these vintage dolls sporting drawn-up, long sparse lashes. Until I discovered this mascara. Honestly, it’s a revelation. It gives me thick, lifted lashes for a sultry, really pretty look.
  • Chanel blush in a stick- I wear it every day. It takes less than a minute to apply to my cheeks and the bridge of my nose where the sun naturally hits. Sometimes I also apply it in the sockets of my eyes.
  • Sephora plum eye crayon- I wear it just under my eyelashes rather than on my eyelids. It frames my eyes in a subtle, non-obvious way but I would only wear it with mascara for a big night out.

That’s it- just 6 pieces - and I never wear them all at once. On some days it’s just a blush, on others mascara and a little lipstick. If you saw me on the street, save for mascara, would never know I’m wearing make-up.

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