French Girl Style, Lesson 4: Beauty & Skincare

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OK, French class, a summary of what we’ve learned so far: Mess all your shit up because that’s what we do here. Remember, we don’t care that much.

For beauty, then, it means that we aren’t going to brush our hair, we aren’t going to contour our forehead, and we aren’t going to smokey our eyes.

What are we going to do? We’re going to swipe something red on our lips and leave. Maybe smudge some shit on our eyes. However, this isn’t groundbreaking. We all know that red-lip French girl look.

Exploring French Girl Style: Skincare Goals, Routines + Confidence

During my research since my first post on French girl style, I did find some problems. This idea of French beauty is very based in whiteness. All of the images I was finding were white girls with flowy hair and red lips, like this:

During my French girl style research, I found some problems. This idea of French beauty is very based in whiteness. All of the images I was finding were white girls with flowy hair & red lips.
photo credits: @jeannedamas, @sabinasocool, Lea Seydoux, thekit.ca

It’s pretty exclusionary. Don’t get me wrong — I love a red lip and messy hair. But I do think we’re contributing to the problem when we exclusively classify “French beauty” in that specific image. There is so much more than that.

For example, these are images of some of France’s current top models/influencers:

I love a red lip & messy hair. But we're contributing to the problem when we exclusively classify “French beauty” in a white-woman image.
photo credit: @chen_estelle, @KarlyLoyce, @iamayajones, @bonjourclem

What I did find, though, is that French/Euro women consistently focus on skincare — like, a lot — and less on makeup in general.

Which, Ok. But I struggle with this.

Personally, I NEED makeup. I love makeup. Don’t French women get pimples? Or dark circles? I need significant work to get out the door. I would love to say to you, “I am totally secure enough to not care about my hormonal acne or gray roots.” But this is the circle of trust, and I have every product that Charlotte Tilbury overcharged me for. So, now what?

Well. Deep breaths.

  1. We start from the ground up and look at our skin first.
  2. We work on our own confidence and actually not care. *gasp*

When I first started writing about the French-girl lessons (roughly a month ago), I felt like it was only fair to ditch the makeup and work on my confidence for all of you.

Guys. It was a journey with all kinds of scary emotions. And personally, I love makeup for the following reasons:

  1. To shape-shift my face into whatever I want and blatantly hide all of my insecurities (circle of trust).
  2. The artistic-ness/creativity of it all.

But my skin doesn’t love make-up, and halfway through the day I look like a rice cake.

French women are all about good skin, and any makeup is a bonus.

*said in a whiny voice* I WANT THAT.

Taking A Page From TikTok: My New “Skin Cycling” Skincare Routine

So, I went to a dermatologist. And TikTok. And do I look better? No. I look 3,000 times worse. But there is a reason.

Tretinoin (a retinoid) sheds your skin like a Britney snake to make you look more “Slave 4 You” and less “Gimme More.” But, man alive, it’s a freaking process. However, #SkinTok tells me that this and sunblock are the gold standard.

Now, THIS is what I learned. It’s called skin cycling, and it seems like it’s already a game-changer. This is how it works: You rotate your skin regime every three nights. Here’s an example…

Skin Cycling: Night 1

Acid (your choice). I use salicylic acid for clogged pores, but you can use glycolic, mandelic…any. This is to get rid of those snakey snake faces. Follow up with a moisturizer.

Along w/ confidence, French girl style focuses on skincare routines, not makeup. From skin cycling w/ retinol to slugging, here are some essentials to get started.

1. Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliant: This one is great for clogged pores/acne.

2. Eminence Organic Skin Care Exfoliating Peel: This is a more natural take on an acid.

3. Indie Lee Exfoliating Pads: Great brand. I have some of its other products but haven’t tried this yet.

4. Dr. Dennis Gross Daily Face Peel: These work really well. I just don’t love all the waste they create.

Skin Cycling: Night 2

Retinol. You can get it over the counter, but the prescription stuff is 4real. I used Musely for years though and really liked it before I switched. If you’re just starting out, look for .25% or lower and put on your moisturizer first. To give you an idea of strength, 1% will peel you a potato for dinner.

Along w/ confidence, French girl style focuses on skincare routines, not makeup. From skin cycling w/ retinol to slugging, here are some essentials to get started.

1. Musely The Spot Cream: This cream has a lightener in it as well for dark spots.

2. SkinMedica Age Defense Retinol: This is one of my favorite skincare brands ever. Everything works.

3. SkinCeuticals Refining Night Cream: This stuff is a great prescription alternative.

Skin Cycling: Night 3

Recover. Just use gentle moisturizer and let your skin chill. Some people even cover up their moisturizer with a thin layer of Vaseline. It’s called slugging. (Whoever named it that is disgusting.)

Along w/ confidence, French girl style focuses on skincare routines, not makeup. From skin cycling w/ retinol to slugging, here are some essentials to get started.

1. Skinfix Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream: I love this to balance the PH in your skin and actually recover its health. It also comes in a lighter gel version and is refillable, so less waste.

2. Tatcha Overnight Repair Cream: This stuff is luxury. It’s so lovely.

3. Alpyn Beauty Melt Moisturizer: I’m using this now. It’s a natural brand and so far so good. A bit lighter than the barrier cream.

Then, repeat.

So far, I love this, and my skin isn’t freaking out about it. I would LOVE to hear if you have any skin suggestions.

So, how am I doing with living in my own natural skin and not hiding behind a dewy WN27 face?

Well, I did it.

I committed.

And then?

I started to care less.

Mostly because I’m not trying to attract literally anyone ever, and I like the general Cool Girl vibe of it with the look. It didn’t feel like I needed all of that to put myself together.

Wait, is this the confidence thing? Like, the “I like it for myself and don’t care what people think” thing? I think I’m doing it, you guys. Look at me.

Our next lesson is OUR LAST ONE. We will be putting it all together. I don’t FEEL French yet. I’ll let you know next week.

Xo,

Amanda

Well, howdy there, Pinners…

Along w/ confidence, French girl style focuses on skincare routines, not makeup. From skin cycling w/ retinol to slugging, here are some essentials to get started.
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After multiple existential crises, I've been an interior designer, a store window designer, a personal stylist (when I want to say something fancier than friend who went to the mall with another friend to "help"), a teacher, an author and illustrator, a graphic designer, NFT creator, a t-shirt designer and cat and Broadway enthusiast. But NOT Cats on Broadway. Just cats, the animals. What have I learned through all of my careers? You can really do a thing and then call yourself whatever you want. No one will check. But before all of this, in the year 2008, I was a blogger. And now I'm back with my favorite blog of all time. Let's go.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s remember too, that all the ‘French girls’ everyone seems to refer to and covet are 20 years old. Easy to look gorgeous when you’ve rolled out of bed with left-over makeup when you’re 20! Quite another story when you’re on the other side of 45. (Btw, my mom was French. Everything related to fashion and skincare was about quality, not quantity. And dermatologists are revered – and on speed-dial.)

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