In honor of Bastille Day, Yahoo Style and Yahoo Beauty are examining what it means to be a “French girl” — the myths, fantasies, and realities that all help define that certain je ne sais quoi. What’s vrai, what’s faux, and what’s a total faux pas? Read on.
Sure, we’ve all heard of Caudalie and Vichy, but French women (and those who love French beauty) are currently coveting a new crop of chic scrubs, salves, and maquillage. From the land that brought us beauty icons like Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, here are the latest must-have brands atop every belle de jour’s list.
IXXI Sublixime Anti-Ageing Absolute. (Photo: IXXI)
It’s all about the pine. Located in the heart of the lush Landes evergreen forest in southwestern France, IXXI labs boast pine polyphenol as its secret sauce. The powerful antioxidant is extracted from the bark of trees and is formulated into a skincare line that targets the signs of aging and is known for using bioavailable ingredients. In studies, the extract has been shown to have 30 times more antioxidant power than vitamin C, and it increases production of collagen (a building block of youthful, elastic skin) by 36 percent. With products that range from Micellar Cleansing Water to Milky Hydrating Lotion and Fine Daytime Emulsion, the line is gentle and elegant — and in keeping with what French skincare is known for. The four letters of the brand name — IXXI — convey the serenity of trees and the mystical allure of the woods while visually celebrating nature’s harmony and balance.
Star product: Sublixime Anti-Ageing Absolute. Made with extracts from the bark, seed, and needle of pines, this lightweight beauty oil dispenses through a dropper and has become a gold accent on the vanity tables of mesdemoiselles in the know.
Where to buy: Duane Reade and Walgreens Look Boutique stores
Nailmatic Nail Lacquers. (Photo: Nailmatic)
You’re in on the scoop — the French are going crazy for this new natural nail polish brand that is popping up in custom vending machines everywhere. (Oui, oui, you read that right — queue up now!) And cool fact: The dispensing machines are air-conditioned to the perfect polish-preserving temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit, so formulas stay fresh and silky. All of the polishes are “5 free,” or made without popular chemicals toluene, dibutyl phthalate, two types of formaldehyde and camphor. Instead, the brand fills its darling bottles with toxin-free, juicy hues bursting with fun. There is even Nailmatic Kids, the first water-based polish line formulated just for les enfants, which can be removed with warm soapy water. It’s true — the French never run short on imagination!
Star product: Nail Lacquer. Full coverage and superhigh on shine, the polishes are known for their extraordinary pop on nails. If you’re more demure, the BB Nail line is a vitamin-enriched treatment that adds a hint of coverage for healthy-looking nails — and is a favorite among men.
Where to buy: There’s talk of a USA debut in 2017; for now, Nailmatic is available at international locations.
Acti-Labs Diamond Dust Face Powder. (Photo: Acti-Labs)
Prepare for a knock on your door; this could be the French Avon of tomorrow. Independent sellers are just beginning to offer this popular brand stateside that is known for its eco-friendly line of relatively affordable French skincare products that are free of animal testing and all boast a low carbon footprint. From skincare to haircare, the focus is on merging science with the sophistication of French anti-aging expertise, with ingredients like stem cell technology and marine collagen. Body treatments come straight from the slimming, shaping, and sculpting menus of traditional French spas, and the makeup is big on natural ingredients like green tea, chamomile, jojoba oil, and vitamin E, which bring radiance and glow back to tired complexions. And if you haven’t already seen this brand pop up in your social media feeds, expect to soon; the company is big on arming reps with tools to create eye-catching selfies and tutorials.
Star product: Diamond Dust Face Powder. Created to impart a gentle glow and to diminish imperfections on any skin tone, this multipurpose mosaic mineral powder can serve as all-over corrective compact, blush, bronzer, or highlighter, depending on the color family you pick.
Where to buy: Acti-Labs.com
Studio 78 Paris Eyeshadows. (Photo: Studio 78 Paris)
Studio 78 Paris
Organic and sensitive-skin types, this one’s for you: Studio 78 Paris is a new Ecocert-certified makeup line from the fashion capital of the world that was created by a former Guerlain exec in search of a natural alternative for supersensitive skin — “a chic makeup line for allergic women.” Adding the distinctly French touches of beautiful packaging, sensual fragrance, and savoir-faire in color, the brand merges the seeming paradox of green products with a fancy cosmetic feel. Every item is free of common agitators and synthetics like parabens, mineral oil, rosin, and formaldehyde, and is instead filled with plant extracts and fine oils like avocado, apricot, and chamomile. All shades are derived from 100 percent natural mineral pigments. Baked clay is at the heart of the brand’s technology, which gives the powder the ability to be applied wet (for more drama) or dry (for a more natural look).
Star product: Ombre à Paupières No2. Easily irritated eyes will appreciate these nurturing eyeshadows that easily double as eyeliner when applied wet. Organic and filled with chamomile and apricot oil, the pressed mineral powders are instantly soothing.
Where to buy: Ecocentric.com
Thalion Focus Cellulite Control. (Photo: Thalion)
French women have long loved and used seaweed as an anti-aging ingredient, and thalassotherapy — or the use of seawater in beauty treatments — has always been a traditionally popular choice in French spas. Thalion harvests seaweed from what is known as “the international capital” of the nutrient-dense plant, the Iroise Sea, off the coast of Brittany in northwestern France. There, the combination of strong currents, high tide, ideal water temperature, and salinity all result in superseaweeds that are especially rich in antioxidant properties. The minerals are preserved and transported into a line of facial, body, tea, and supplement products offered at spas, and are incorporated into signature facials and body rituals. Unlike many women in the U.S., who think of spa time as an indulgent treat, most French women consider the spa — and popular spa products — an integral part of any beauty routine.
Star product: Focus Cellulite Control. French women take cellulite treatments seriously, and this pink cream-gel has become the latest go-to in fighting the three types of cellulite: fat, water, and fiber. Marine AHAs transport a patented cellulite-busting ingredient, along with caffeine, to areas like the hips, thighs, and behind. Kneading and rolling movements are essential to applying the product for the best results.
Where to buy: Thalion is not yet available in the United States, but if you travel to other locations, including Canada, Mexico, France, and other spots in Europe and Asia, you can find the products at select spas.