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French women’s best-kept beauty secrets

Ever-immaculate French women flock to their pharmacies, to stock up on effortlessly efficacious beauty staples. Renowned for their understated aesthetic – naturally flawless skin framed by deliberately ‘undone’ hair is the signature French look – now you too can channel the likes of Clémence (seen below) with our edit of French (beauty) Fancies.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that French women never get spots (in spite of their penchant for vin rouge and rich food) – because in the unlikely event that a pimple should threaten their flawlessness (after one-too-many macarons, par example), they nip it in the bud with Odacité’s chic (really!) anti-blemish solutions. The {Oily-Acne Prone Serum Concentrate} looks suitably inconspicuous – a petite, violet vial of pure, blemish-battling extracts – and works overnight to zap les zits.


No Chanel 2.55 is ever without Caudalie’s best-selling {Eau de Beauté} – a refreshing, antioxidant facial spritz to instantly brighten, tone and invigorate typically nonchalant skin cells (*french shrug*). With a gorgeously minty fragrance, this is ideal for creating instant luminescence (and disguising the scent of that give-away Gauloises…). Pair with the exquisite {Vineactiv Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum} – a rebalancing, free radical-fighting elixir that leaves skin smooth, supple and lustrous.


Cleanser, moisturiser and primer in one, you’ll find Embryolisse {Lait Crème-Fluide} in every Mlle’s armoire de toilette (‘bathroom cabinet’, to you and me). A skin care classic, this lightweight daily hydrator is almost the exact same age as Jane Birkin (WHAT a claim to fame) and is the ultimate ‘go to’ for women who’d rather be sipping champagne with their friends than conducting a multi-step ‘ritual’ (less is much, much more). I like to supercharge mine with a drop of Odacité’s {Vital Glow Serum Concentrate} – but there’s one to address every skin care concern. Et voila!

And of course, we mustn’t overlook the {Eclat du Regard} – a nifty twist-up puff-reducing stick which fits neatly in your Céline and shrinks under-eye tote bags to the miniest minaudiere proportions. Cooling upon application, it instantly disguises signs of too-late nights (or much too-early starts).


With a discreet salon and chic clientele, Leonor Greyl is tasked with mane-taming the locks of the ‘Paris Elite’. The self-titled {L’Huile de Leonor Greyl} is a gorgeous pre-shampoo treatment, developed to care for hair in the same way you’d care for your delicates (gently gently, like your favourite French knickers). Prescriptive and easy to navigate, there’s a cleanser to suit every hair type – from limp to long, very dry to generally confused (the {Bain TS Shampooing} for greasy roots and dry ends is a bestseller) – and the {Serum de Soie} is ideal for controlling and nourishing strands.


And last, but by no means least, Nuxe’s romantically entitled {Rêve de Miel} is the connoisseur’s lip balm. An utterly buttery blend of honey, shea butter and grapefruit essences to deep-condition and soften ta bouche. Perfect pour les amoureux. Bisous!


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…