10 Tips for French-Inspired Hair & Makeup Looks

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10 Tips for French-Inspired Hair & Makeup Looks

French style is quite enviable and aspirational – particularly, the ever-so-sexy Parisian style. Clothing and confidence aside, there are a few other avenues down which to venture if you’re in hot pursuit of a French-inspired look. And both these roads can be found from the neck up: Your face and your hair.


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1. The smoky eye

The French are known for their confidence in, and mastery of, the art of romance, allure, and sex appeal. And nothing speaks to all these things, makeup-wise, like the sultry smoky eye. Grab your black eyeliner, a dark shadow, some high-quality mascara, and get to work on those peepers before your next big night out.


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2. The sexy bedhead look

Say the smoky eye did the trick, and you had yourself a fun romp in the evening. Equally appealing and equally respectable: Say you had a delightful night in, snuggled up in your jammies, watching Dix Pour Cent on Netflix and sipping a rich Merlot. Either way, you can begin your day with the French-ified bedhead look. Run your fingers through your hair, give it a tussle with a bit of styling gel, and greet the day looking relaxed, chic, and devil-may-care.


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3. A colorful pout

Those lips are made for talking, that’s just what they’ll do. French style is sometimes about the art of the well-placed grab. By that I mean, a single, sometimes subtle and sometimes not, eye-catching item. It might be a colorful scarf, or a chic flat, or perhaps a hue-full lip color. Go for a matte look to ensure a longer staying power and fewer re-applications. Fire engine reds, dark Goth-y purples, and bubblegum pinks all do the trick for showstopper look on those lips. If you’re game for a splurge, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent have some eye-catching options.


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4. The “no makeup” makeup look

While a lovely lip is nice, so is the barefaced beauty. Opt for minimal, to let you in all your you-ness shine through and sit center stage. Beauty products are fun, but what’s even better and most attractive is the beauty that comes from stellar self-confidence. In fact, it’s irresistible.


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5. A casual pony

Hair is no exception when it comes to going the path of least resistance and minimal effort. Throw your hair up in a high pony and let your cheeks be the star of the day. Shorter hair? Take some bobby pins, and slot them into your hair on one side or both sides. Don’t overthink it; stick them in and go for a casual yet put-together look.


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6. An eye-catching bob cut

It’s nice to not think about your hair sometimes, but, like makeup, hair styling is fun, and occasionally you do want to think about it. 2020 has been a year of great change; perhaps it has you wanting to make some personal beauty changes, too. A superb way to alter your look is to go for a bold, new cut. Thankfully, hair is one of those things that tends to re-grow (sometimes), so this is an easy way to experiment with a new look, without committing to it fully. This time next year, your long locks could be back if you decide the bob is not for you. As my stylist once said to me when I braced myself as she cut off three inches of my almost butt-length hair: “See? That wasn’t so bad. It’s only hair.” It’s only hair, people. It’s only hair.


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7. Color-free mani

We’ve detailed here how the French have perfected minimalism in their look. This applies to those nails of yours, too. You’ll notice in Paris that there are far fewer nail salons, as compared to its semi-nearby neighbor and fellow fashion capital, New York City. (In NYC, you’ll find them nearly every few blocks). When it comes to nail care, the French generally have a less-is-more approach. Save your time and your euros, and do your nails at home. Go for a clear or blush pink polish, a quick file, and some lotion – et, voila: You’re ready.


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8. Blunt bangs 

Channel the tragically hip look of a blunt bang, à la Brigitte Bardot in the late 1960s or Amélie. Pair it with that bedhead look mentioned above, and you’ll feel fit for your big-screen debut.


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9. Excellent skincare routine

Skincare is where it all begins. For a solid beauty house, you need a strong foundation. And that foundation is your skin and your body and your general mental and physical wellness. You’re at your best, and looking your best, when you’re taking excellent care of yourself. Be a good steward to your body, yourself, and the light that sparks you, by tending to yourself, and your skin, with love and care. (As my dance teacher says: “Self-care is the best care because without it, you can’t give the rest care!”) Though pricey, I’m a fan of Tata Harper’s skincare products. They’re non-toxic, all-natural, and smell oh-so-heavenly, clean, and fresh. For more budget-friendly options, check out skincare products from L’Oréal, Olay, and Aveeno.


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10. Mess is best 

Try to avoid the trap of looking too perfect, too Stepford-y. While the French are known for perfection and precision in many areas, there is a general attitude of freedom and roll-with-the-punches-ness found in everyday French living. It’s part of what makes it so appealing to outsiders, particularly those from cultures where work, optimization, perfection, and other Sisyphean pursuits take precedence over just enjoying one’s life. Relish in that French lifestyle, and care less (to a degree) when it comes to your look. A bit of mascara smudge? Lipstick on the teeth? Who cares. Relax, and live your life.

Profitez-bien and enjoy the beautiful journey of being you.

Lead photo credit : Credit © Cleo Vermij Unsplash

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.


  • Hazel Smith
    2020-09-21 05:51:54
    Hazel Smith
    I agree that these days there really isn't much difference with French women on the world stage. Everything's become so casual. BUT there is a studied nonchalance seen on the street that must stem from inner confidence. Whether French woman are as stylish as the women in Anne's article or not - French women do care how they look when they leave home. It's all part of the French aesthetic.


  • Karen Mullens
    2020-09-17 10:04:59
    Karen Mullens
    Sorry but these articles make me laugh. I’ve been to Paris many many times. The people I see around the city and provincial towns look no different to woman in other cities around the world. I’ve rarely seen people looking like the woman in these photos. 🤷‍♀️ Clothing goes from a A- Z RANGE , but generally very casual. Once, and once only , I remember seeing a very chic woman in the 16th .... she looked fabulous, but no different from chic woman anywhere in the world.


  • Dona Duncan
    2020-09-17 02:20:21
    Dona Duncan
    Oh such fun! Your latest work transported me to walking down a Paris street admiring how wonderful the females look! Great hair, makeup and most of all confidence! Thank you , Dona Duncan P.S. maybe some info on delightful French wine to enjoy during the change of season! :)