Skip to content

10 French Skincare Secrets That Will Make You Look Years Younger, Experts Say

These are the French tips to try for a gorgeous glow.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Ask anyone to envision "French beauty," and most people will instantly conjure an image of effortless chic. And while high fashion certainly has something to do with the country's reputation for elegance and style, there are far subtler ways that the French achieve their enviable looks. French women, of course, come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, but some signature beauty secrets do seem to set them apart. French skincare, in particular, has some notable differences from how we do things here in America, and experts say we have plenty to learn from our European neighbors. These are the 10 simple changes to make for flawless, French-inspired skin that'll make you look years younger.

RELATED: Dermatologists Share the Best Drugstore Skincare Products: "Anything More Is Not Necessary."

Take a holistic approach to beauty.

Young woman eating healthy food sitting in the beautiful interior with green flowers on the background

French women equate skincare to self-care and see it as part of all-inclusive wellness, says Valerie Aparovich, a biochemist and certified cosmetologist-esthetician at OnSkin.

"They recognize that beauty starts from the inside out and that vibrant skin reflects a healthy lifestyle. Not only are consistent, wholesome habits such as a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, greens, and veggies, ample water intake, regular exercising, and quality sleep crucial for our overall physical well-being, but they also determine how we look," she explains.

In fact, Aparovich says that what we put into our bodies is even more important than what we apply to our skin. "Our everyday choices directly influence our skin, hair, and nail health and appearance, surpassing the impact of cosmetic products alone, no matter how expensive and well-formulated they are," she notes.

Keep cosmetics minimal.

Redhead woman applying mascara in her bathroom mirror

French beauty has a reputation for being minimalistic and effortless, enhancing one's natural beauty. Aparovich says that striving for a naturally luminous complexion lays the foundation for the iconic look.

"French women tend to focus on the beauty of the skin itself rather than following beauty trends and covering it up with makeup or experimenting with artificial cosmetic enhancements," she explains. "When your own skin is seen as a true canvas and taken care of properly, its cleanliness and health are maintained, and you don't need to rely on heavy makeup products. Therefore, it's less exposed to dyes and chemicals, and its natural functioning is not compromised."

RELATED: Never Buy Skincare Products With These 5 Ingredients, Dermatologists Warn.

Don't just focus on your face.

Close up of a woman applying lotion to her leg that's propped on a table.
Drazen_ / iStock

Another way that French skincare stands out is that it takes a whole-body approach rather than focusing solely on faces, says Melissa Wilson, a certified esthetician and director of training at Woodhouse Spa.

"We recently launched a new body treatment with [the French brand Phytomer], our Body Sculpt Wrap, which uses thermo-sculpting and marine extract ingredients to help treat stubborn areas with things like toning and cellulite. All of their products are natural, inspired by the sea, and are designed to be clean and eco-friendly, which is a great representation of where French skincare trends currently are," she says.

Adopt a "less is more" philosophy towards skincare.

Young woman applying lotion or sunscreen while looking in mirror in bathroom
Wavebreakmedia / iStock

French women take their skincare routines seriously, but that doesn't mean they pile on the products.

"The 'less is more' approach to skincare is highly beneficial for skin health, opting for simplicity and effectiveness and emphasizing quality over quantity," says Aparovich. She notes that the key is to maintain a simple routine that includes a cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and sun protection. She says French women typically use "high-quality products formulated with natural ingredients addressing individual skin needs."

"Focusing on these essential skincare steps, you won't overwhelm your skin with unnecessary cosmetic products, allowing it to better absorb and respond to the active ingredients it receives and reducing the risk of irritation, which results in a healthier, more radiant complexion," she adds.

RELATED: Makeup Artist Shares 5 Clever Beauty Tricks That Will Make You Look Years Younger.

Make facials a regular part of life.

top-down closeup of a woman in a spa with a face mask and cucumbers on her eyes

Facials were first pioneered in France, and according to Vogue, it's not uncommon for French women to get facials at least once a month.

Elisha Reverby, an esthetician and creator of the luxury organic skincare brand Elique Organics, says this is a habit that starts young. "From what I know about French women, having lived in Paris, they start getting facials from a young age and have a deep appreciation for taking care of their skin. It's a tradition passed down from mothers to daughters and continues into adulthood," she tells Best Life.

She adds that French care routines at home may look a bit more like spa facials than they do in American homes. "They diligently apply their creams, use cleansing waters, and engage in facial massages daily. This commitment ensures that their skin remains nourished, hydrated, and radiant. Skipping these steps is not an option, reflecting their dedication to maintaining healthy and beautiful skin," she says.

Prioritize hydration as the key to radiant skin.

Happy Young Woman Drinking Water
puhhha / Shutterstock

Next, Aparovich says that keeping your skin and body hydrated throughout the day is another habit that's considered standard in French skincare.

"Hydration levels should be boosted both from within by consuming plenty of water and hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables, and topically by applying well-formulated moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, collagen, and plant-derived extracts," she tells Best Life. "Proper hydration helps improve skin plumpness and firmness, brighten the complexion, and strengthen the skin's moisture barrier, shielding it from external stressors and delaying the signs of aging."

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Forehead Wrinkles: 18 Dermatologist-Approved Tips.

Spritz your skin with a thermal water mist.

Woman spritzing her face with a facial spray
buritora / Shutterstock

For another French-inspired skincare solution, Aparovich recommends adding thermal water mist to your routine.

"Thermal spring water sprays originate in the French cosmetic industry and are offered by various pharmacy brands like La Roche-Posay or Avène," says Aparovich. "Thermal water is infused with minerals and antioxidants, helping to soothe and hydrate the skin. Rinsing your skin with thermal water after cleansing helps maintain its pH balance and prime it, promoting the absorption of the following cosmetic products."

"Carrying the thermal water face mist in your handbag and spritzing it throughout the day provides the skin with an added layer of moisture and instant refreshment," she adds.

Switch to drinking red wine.

Group of friends toasting and drinking red wine
Alina Rosanova / Shutterstock

In general, alcohol is not a magic elixir for better skin—drink too much, and you're more likely to develop wrinkles, reduced elasticity, and a dull complexion. However, drinking red wine in moderation may be one of the skincare secrets that make French women glow, Reverby says.

"Clearly, the French love their wine, and I believe that all that resveratrol and its multiple benefits plays a role in their skin," she says. "Resveratrol lowers blood sugar, manages glycation (which can break down proteins like collagen and elastin), and reduces high blood pressure and inflammation. There's nothing more beautifying than that."

RELATED: 8 Ways Your Makeup Is Making You Look Older, Beauty Experts Warn.

Use micellar water to remove makeup.

closeup of person putting clear solution from a bottle onto a cloth

Aparovich says there's another difference between French and American skincare: She explains that while Americans tend to go for a maximally fresh feeling after cleansing, "French women don't welcome a squeaky-clean sensation the skin might have after cleansing as it means that it's stripped of its natural oils."

She says that because of this preference, many French women favor micellar water for its mild detergent impact and efficacy in removing basic everyday makeup, washing away impurities, and eliminating excess sebum.

"Micelles are tiny surfactant particles aggregated of lipid molecules that act like magnets, attracting and lifting away dirt, oil, and makeup without over-drying the skin or the need for rubbing," she explains. "This makes micellar water suitable for all skin types, including sensitive."

Renew your skin with a gommage exfoliator.

Closeup of woman applying gommage exfoliant

Rough physical exfoliants and scrubs can damage your skin, leaving you looking worse for the wear. For an approach that's gentler on your skin, Aparovich recommends trying gommage, a French technique of gentle exfoliation used on the face and body.

"Gommage is a chemical type of exfoliator based on the activity of enzymes (such as papaya or pineapple enzymes) that help slough away dead cells and debris from the skin surface," she explains. "Unlike physical scrubs, enzyme exfoliants do the job gently without causing micro-tears or irritation, which makes them suitable for sensitive skin."

By adding this technique to your regular routine once or twice per week, Aparovich says you'll get "smoother, brighter-looking skin by promoting cell turnover and enhancing the absorption of active ingredients from other skincare treatments."

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under