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I’m embarrassed by how frequently I tell people that I spent a year in Paris. Then again, I spent a year in Paris, it transformed my life, and I often find myself near tears, wondering if and when I will live there again. Since I can’t just up and move to Paris right now, I try to recreate pieces of Paris at home, and part of that is in my beauty routine. I know it’s working and that I’m emulating the French look because last time I was in Paris, people thought I was French (until I opened my mouth, anyway). I also know that there is definitely something special about Paris that helps you look good because when I returned from my last trip, my skin was clear and my roommate told me I was glowing (could have been the unadulterated happiness I felt there, tbh, but maybe it was one of my creams?). Here are some tips and tricks I picked up while there. Try a few out if you want to frenchify your life, or at least your look.
- Keep it simple! Stick to a routine you can follow day in and day out, and remember that certain lifestyle habits can greatly affect your skin. To that end:
- Walk! Get your body moving, your blood pumping, your cells doing what they need to do. The French walk whenever/wherever they can, probably to avoid each other on the metro (subway), and also to people watch (contradictory, I know, but such is life in France).
- Eat fresh, nutritious food. I believe the bread in France doesn’t fatten the same way because it’s not chock-full of sugar and salt to keep it fresh in a bag for days. Eat whatever you can fresh. Your skin, not to mention the rest of your body, will thank you.
- Invest in some good staples, and keep the rest of your products simple. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on skincare, but you should spend a little on your workhorses. The French love affordable luxury. Pharmacies in Paris are among my greatest joys, and I am obsessed with products by Nuxe, Avène, La Roche-Posay, Vichy, etc. Sadly, many of those brands are much pricier here in the U.S., but fear not! Aveeno, Neutrogena, Garnier, and Olay make some great products. Feel free to go high/low with your skincare, i.e., a gentle Neutrogena cleanser with a coveted SkinCeuticals serum.
- Exfoliate and moisturize: dry skin is the enemy of a youthful glow! Buff away your dry skin on your face with a gentle chemical exfoliant (think hydroxy acids, retinol, etc.), and use a dry body brush before showering to tackle your dry skin on your body and increase circulation. Then, after you shower, moisturize! The French moisturize everything. Lotion (or dry oil) your body, your face, your hands, your cuticles, your eyes, your lips, etc.
- Use a light hand with your makeup. I love a bold makeup look, but the French are still surprisingly conservative, especially during the day. While in Paris, I became hooked on Clarins’ brow pencil, but feel free to use whatever brow product gives you a natural, groomed look. Brown mascara if you’re fair/light-haired is a must, and please, go easy on the mascara. You want to accentuate your lashes, but you almost want people to wonder if you’re wearing mascara. Leave the contouring for your nights out,and just even out your skin tone with a light tint (ideally, your sunscreen will have it. If not, BB cream is your friend!). The pièce de résistance: a bit of lipstick, smudged in with your fingers so you don’t see a defined line of lipstick. I go for a dusty rose, and I seriously cannot get enough of Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution in Bond Girl.
Armed with this new knowledge, buy a fresh baguette, wear a nice striped shirt, go forth, and bon courage!