Max Made


Steal the beauty secrets behind Parisian je ne sais quois.

It’s hard to write a story about French beauty without resorting to cliches, yet I feel compelled to share my encounter with this iconic woman’s whims during a recent trip to Paris.

The French girl really does walk or cycle everywhere, that crisp air against the skin further adding to that rosy complexion. She’s also rather partial to some merlot and a baguette.

Yet the rumours are true: a luminous complexion is everything to her.

French girls will seriously fork out whatever necessary for the best skin brands. Her glow is her power, thus allowing to cut back on other makeup. French women don’t cake their faces, but rather enhance their features and leave it to good skincare to take care of the rest. This approach is perhaps why French women age better than almost any other culture!

Not only do Parisiennes have impeccably perfect skin, but their routines are both affordable and rather easy to maintain. The key is simply knowing your skin. Her primary spend is on facial zones that need more TLC, relegating more cost-effective brands for the facial features that still hold up. This is how a savvy Parisienne wisely stretches her budget!

My friend and beauty editor Katrina Lawrence, who is the author of Paris Dreaming: What the City of Light Taught Me About Life, Love & Lipstick (Harper Collins), tends to agree:

“Pharmacy skincare and body care products are really well priced in France, so you can easily scrimp,” she tells us after numerous trips to the City of Light. “This allows French women to splurge a little on facials, a few key makeup buys (such as their all-important black liner and mascara and a classic red lipstick from Dior or Chanel), and a luxury fragrance (a quality perfume with a long-lasting sillage is very important to French women).”

She also observes that French women tend to care about how they use skincare as much as they do buying it.

“Pharmacies in France are filled with serious cutting-edge, dermatologist-formulated creams and serums, and women spend a lot of time talking to well-trained pharmacists and assistants about what’s right for them at a particular point in time or stage of life,” Katrina tells Maxmade.

“French mums usually start their daughters on a skincare routine at a young age, and skincare rituals are seen as not only a necessity but an excuse for well-deserved pampering!”

Kat concurs that good skin is of utmost importance to most French women; even if they prefer to wear their hair messy and eye makeup smudged, their skin is usually near-perfect.

“The idea is to have such a great complexion that you only need minimal foundation if any at all.”

So what brands does she feel Parisiennes tend to favour?

“Many French women buy their homegrown luxury brands,” says Katrina, somewhat unsurprisingly. “Guerlain, Chanel and By Terry rule, especially if they prefer formulations that are more at the luscious, aromatic end of the scale. However, dermocosmetic names found in pharmacies are huge — think La Roche Posay, BioDerma, Vichy, Avène and Uriage.”

Although some of the best suncare brands are French, Katrina is not convinced that French women use it as well as Australian women do.

“They might say that their sun is not as harsh as ours, but they sometimes can look a little too leathery after their annual summer holidays!”

As for me, what surprised me the most is that French women are not that tricked up on the latest in makeup and skincare. They are not as savvy when it comes to the latest technology either, which is where I think Australian women excel.

At the same time Aussie, English and USA women tend to not know their faces as well, either ignoring weaker areas and slathering faces with whatever looks good at the chemist, or investing big in the latest marketing gimmick that may not even suit her skin.

If us Antipodean beauties took a little of the Parisienne’s classic knowledge and mixed it in with a futuristic take, we would truly have the best of both worlds.


The French woman is a delightful contradiction, and as wild as her whimsies and experiences can get, she keeps it classic and uniquely her own.

For great skin that compliments her strong full brows and quintessential red lip, get the Parisienne vibe with some of our personal trialled and tested complexion heros below.


Caudile Vinoperfect radiance Serum Complexion Correcting

A highly concentrated, oil-free serum that improves the appearance of dark spots, promotes even skin-tone and boosts radiance in a flash. Apply morning and evening to clean skin under your moisturiser and you too can get away with no foundation, just like a French girl.


La Roche Psay Hyalu B5 Serum

Get your hands on the first dermatological anti-wrinkle solution that plumps and repairs the skin. A super concentrated hydrating water gel with hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and madecassoside to revitalise the skin’s surface, you too can give off that timelessly ageless allure.

La Roche Psay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Ultra Light

This iconic French brand is a true leader in facial SPF skincare. An ultra-light texture that is fluid, non-greasy and non-sticky, the invisible finish and instant absorption mean the product sits as effortlessly under makeup as it does on its own. Suited for combination to oily, acne-prone skin, this phenomenal SPF is specially designed for both sensitive Antipodean and Republique complexions alike.


Sisley Paris Ecological Compound Day & Night

This revitalising and hydrating facial emulsion with a non-greasy texture includes Centella Asiatica and Ginseng to provide revitalising and hydrating benefits. This is parfait for restoring softness, moisture and radiance to leave skin looking plump, yet with that French-approved matte finish. Apply this day and night to the face and neck – and don’t forget to truly massage the product in to activate those key ingredients!


SkinCeuticals Simply Cleanser 

This unique gel cleanser efficiently removes waterproof makeup and excess oil to leave skin feeling clean and primed for both in-office treatments and at-home cosmeceutical use. Formulated with an amino acid surfactant system and a 6% concentration combining sulfonic acid (which basically gently dissolve dead skin cells), chamomile and aloe extracts, orange oil and citric acid. Expect soothed and resurfaced skin that not only feels nice and even, but improves skincare penetration.


Phyto Corrective Mask

This intensive calming facial mask cools on contact, comforts skin sensitivity and restores natural radiance and smoothness. The Parisienne-approved Phyto Corrective Masque has been clinically tested post-procedure to effectively reduce visual redness and discomfort – a must after those smoky and wine-fuelled dinner parties in the Marais!

L’Occitane Aqua Reotier Moisture Essense 

A must-have for oily-to-dehydrated skin: not a day goes by that I don’t lather my skin with this life-saving essense. A pre-moisturiser with calcium-rich Réotier water from the Haute Alpes, (an incredibly rich mineral source which helps to maintain the skin’s vital moisture barrier), gift your skin a resilient first layer of moisture and reinforce the hydrating properties of your routine in no time.


Words: Alina Berdi | Product Review & Hair & Makeup | Max May for Maxmade.com.au

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