How beauty-obsessed are you?
This will help us personalize your experience.

Five Secrets to Nailing the French Beauty Look Straight From a French Makeup Artist

Sveta27/Adobe Stock Images

Swipe on a rich red lipstick and write “ooh la la” across your mirror. We’re about to introduce you to the confident, sexy, effortlessly chic world of all things French beauty. Think perfectly imperfect hair, lit-from-within skin, and flawless, less-is-more makeup.

From the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week to vintage Chanel ads and the covers of Vogue, simple yet chic is the key to French beauty. The best part? With a few simple tips and products, a French-inspired beauty look is absolutely doable (and you don’t have to be a bit French to achieve it). We talked to leading French makeup artist Leslie Dumeix about how to achieve that je ne sais quoi that French women flaunt.

About the Expert:

Leslie Dumeix is a French makeup artist based in Paris, France.

Follow These French Beauty Mantras to Get the Look:

1. Good skincare goes a long way.

When it comes to skincare, French beauties firmly believe that a good base is where it’s at. “We can go all day makeup-free but can’t start the day without skincare,” says Dumeix. Healthy, hydrated skin comes first and the work put into it should be simple, yet effective. Consider it a part of overall wellness. “Start taking care of your skin when you’re young and you’ll see the benefits when you’re older,” says Dumeix. That means avoiding harsh, stripping cleansers, and sometimes even skipping your usual twice-a-day cleanse (if you’re going bare-faced) to keep moisture locked in.

2. Stick to a routine.

Rule of thumb: Skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all, so always pick beauty products that adapt to your skin’s needs and start with a good cleanser, suggests Dumeix. Not a big proponent of cleansing with micellar waters, (they’re great, just be sure to rinse off residue that micelles leave behind if you’re a fan), Dumeix prefers oil-based cleansers that help balance skin. Follow up with a hydrating facial mist or lotion. Then, apply a serum, face cream, and eye cream—in that specific order. Look for a lightweight, water-based face cream to help hydrate and protect the skin, she recommends. The key to seeing a change? Patience. “Give every beauty routine at least two months before switching out your products,” says Dumeix.

3. Embrace lived-in hair.

Not all French women stress over perfect strands. According to Dumeix, many French women she knows let their hair dry naturally, skip the heat styling, and opt for good-for-hair serums to achieve their signature slept-in look. While some women are lucky enough to wake up with frizz-free, tousled hair, the rest of us might need a little extra help (we know the struggle). After smoothing on your hair serum, spritz a sea salt spray onto damp hair and rough-dry on low heat. When your hair is 90 percent dry, flip it upside down, hit it with some more heat, and toss it back for some va-va-volume.

4. Less really is more.

French beauty is rooted in the idea that makeup shouldn’t hide who you are—it should accentuate your best features. The “no-makeup makeup look,” is a go-to for many of Dumeix’s French clients who prefer to wear makeup in a way that you can’t tell they really are. The best way to do the same? Hype up one feature at a time. 

  • To blur blemishes: Skip the heavy foundations. “You don’t have to go full-coverage for just two pimples,” says Dumeix. (Love it—so French!). If you’ve got a spot, opt for a redness-reducing concealer and dab on with a brush or your finger. Leave the rest of your face foundation-free.

  • For that signature red lip: Try a moisturizing lip lacquer with a high-shine, a glossy finish, or go with a richly pigmented red matte. Blot with fingers and use the excess to accentuate the apple of your cheeks. (Oui-are so into it).

  • To embrace the boy brow: Don't stress a few unruly hairs. “Brush them upwards with a brow comb and pair with a lash-defining mascara,” Dumeix suggests.

5. Fall for fragrance.

French women spare no counter space when it comes to perfume. “I have at least 10 different fragrances in my bathroom cupboard,” says Dumeix. Spritzing on a classic scent and pairing it with another that fits your mood isn’t uncommon among French women. The key is to not overdo it. Try an easy-to-apply (and trés chic) rollerball perfume to avoid being heavy-handed. After all, subtle statements are the French way.

Want to discover more products that inspire new looks? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

Like this article? Share it with your friends by clicking the icons below!

About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
Share Article
Article Last Updated May 18, 2021 12:00 AM