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How the French do skincare
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Beauty Resolutions in association with Darphin

The French are known for their Sandro coats, effortlessly undone hair and excellent pastries. They’ve got it all. While we might not ever be able to quite emulate the paired-back Breton look without resembling Where’s Wally, what we can do is adopt their philosophy to beauty. Because let’s face it, French women have impeccable skin – no doubt thanks to their French Pharmacy favourites, but also their approach to life. If you’ve ever read ‘How to be Parisian’ (by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, and Sophie Mas) you’ll know it’s full of French advice, expressions and ways of life – many of which resonate with beauty too. We’ve listed our favourites below and called upon the help of Abigail James, International Facialist and Skincare Expert to spill le beans on the skincare philosophy of French women…

“The skin of your face must be treated as a canvas.”

An artist wouldn’t dare paint directly on a canvas without prepping it first – the same applies to your skin. If you invest time and take good care of it, you’ll find that make-up will sit better and you can use far less foundation (too much is a French faux pas). But skincare needn’t be a chore. “French women approach beauty as a ritual, something they deserve and not as something they have to do,” says James. “They see their skincare routine as a pleasure and take great care in applying each step.” 

You can imitate this by washing your face with a gentle cleanser in the morning (make sure you’re double cleansing in the evening if you’re wearing make-up), so your skin can be more receptive to what’s being applied next. “A typical French beauty routine would include key products such as serum, a cream for both the face and eyes and an essential oil, such as Daprhin’s Vetiver Essential Oil Elixir, to be used at night,” says James. The Vetiver scent is deeply relaxing and makes for a sensory night-time experience. Plus, the bottle looks trés chic on your bedside table too.

“Enjoy the face you have today. It’s the one you’ll wish you have ten years from now.”

We’ve all been guilty of one too many summer days sans sunscreen (it makes us wince that UV rays are responsible for around 80% of ageing), but it’s never too late to protect your skin. “French women are aware of environmental factors such as sun damage which can result in dark spots – a typical concern of theirs is skin protection,” says James. She advises wearing a facial SPF every day, even if it’s cloudy, to protect future damage. As for the damage that has already occurred? “Skin that is pampered and taken care of is more resilient to environmental damaged and is therefore less likely to show these signs,” says James. “Use serums and oils to provide deep nourishment, hydration and moisture back to the skin.”

“In truth, more than wanting to look young—which is but a fleeting illusion— [French women] want above all to become the best possible version of themselves, outside and in, at any age.”

Botox? Non! French women prefer to age gracefully. They don’t cower at the sight of a few wrinkles; they tell a story of their character. Instead, they turn to hard working products to keep their skin looking at its best, whether they are 25 or 75. “Age, personality and diet register on the face and therefore French women cannot sacrifice a thing in their products,” says James. “They believe that everything such as texture, sensation and aroma needs to be perfect.” Again, skincare to them is a luxury ­– not a chore.

Along with caring for their skin on a day-to-day basis, you’ll often find that French women flock to their facialist every month. A popular destination is the Darphin Vendôme Institute in Paris, where it’s often said that the therapists have magic hands. “Their heritage and expertise provides customised skincare solutions for everything the skin needs,” says James. Getting a personalised treatment and routine means you’ll get better results from your skincare and have a deeper understanding of your skin, that you can then replicate in your routine at home. “You can set up a nightly beauty ritual that includes a facial massage and then visit a facialist at least every two months,” advises James. Luckily, you don’t need to hop on the Eurostar to get one, as Darphin offer personalised facials here in the UK too.

And finally…

“Eat croissants and buttered toast for breakfast—because it’s Saturday morning and you burned enough calories last night, damn it.”

Un crossaint, si’l vous plait!


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