Monday 19 August 2019

Gallic glamour: French beauty buys to swear by

No one does elegance like the French — but here are some tips to stealing their style...

French actress Marion Cotillard poses as she arrives for the screening of the film
French actress Marion Cotillard poses as she arrives for the screening of the film "Matthias and Maxime" at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
L'Occitane Shea Hand Cream
Ece Parlar
Chanel Pirate lipstick
Ruth Griffin

Ruth Griffin

My love affair with all things Gallic began as a child when my parents would take us to the idyllic, sunny region of Provence in the South of France every summer. My first serious boyfriend was a very handsome, typically passionate Frenchman - I not only fell in love with him but also the food, the countryside, the beaches, the books (Manon Lescaut by Prevost is in my top five favourite books of all time), the style and the language. I even went on to study French in UCD (sadly I cannot speak a word now!). For me, there's something so intriguing, beautiful and mysterious about the French way that I can never quite put my finger on - that famous je ne sais quoi aspect to the French culture.

Tomorrow marks Bastille Day and to celebrate I've compiled some of the best French essentials that I think you should all have on your radar. There's a lot of chat in the beauty world about K Beauty and J Beauty but to my mind the original and best skincare lines come from France - I'm calling it F Beauty! The French invented micellar water, the chignon, the modern blow-dry and affordable pharmacy skincare lines that democratised the beauty world. Their brands have stood the test of time and continue to be bestsellers.

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Beauty insiders have long known about some of these gems (notably Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse and Bioderma Micellar Water - these beauts are found in nearly every make-up artist's arsenal I know), with actress Natalie Portman recently revealing that French pharmacy products are one of her beauty secrets.

French women such as Catherine Deneuve and Marion Cotillard are renowned for their elegance and pared-back, chic style - with flawless skin and minimal make-up ensuring they never look de trop. So with that in mind, here are some of my favourite Gallic fancies that will help you steal a bit of that famous French flair this summer!

Summer hair hero

Phytodéfrisant Botanical Straightening Balm, €21, is an award-winning, heat-activated smoothing balm that will keep even the frizziest of hair types looking sleek. From pharmacies nationwide and


3 of the best French essentials

Lip smacker

Chanel Pirate lipstick

Coco Chanel revolutionised fashion over a century ago - she made it acceptable for women to wear make-up. If you need a slick of chic, Coco-esque chutzpah, look no further than this famous siren-red lipstick and speak your truth with some Gallic flair! Chanel Lipstick in Pirate, €36, from pharmacies nationwide.

Helping hand

L'Occitane Shea Hand Cream

L'Occitane is the natural, sustainable French skincare line founded in 1976 that takes its inspiration and ingredients from the traditions of sun-soaked Provence. Its bestseller, cult classic product is this hand cream - I haven't found a better one on the market.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, €24, from pharmacies nationwide.

Brilliant balm


If you have sensitive skin, you're probably already very familiar with this French skincare line. A body lotion suitable for the whole family (even babies), it's brilliant for dry, thirsty and especially reactive skin. A no-frills skin saviour that will last aeons! La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP + Body Lotion, €16.50, from pharmacies nationwide.


Ask the expert:  Ece Parlar

Ece Parlar

Ece Parlar is a supremely chic French lady and also brand manager for Vichy (

Here she gives us the lowdown on how we can nail that effortless French sense of style…


Why is France world famous for its skincare?

The French have an inherent understanding of excellent skincare. To help educate women and men, French pharmacies have achieved cult status worldwide by turning advanced scientific research and sophisticated formulas into simple products that speak to women leading busy lives all over the world.

Are there any specific French skincare discoveries that are now mainstream that you love?

I may be biased but my favourite French skincare discovery is natural mineralising thermal water, which is proven to strengthen the skin's natural defences and is the key ingredient in all Vichy products.

What are some French skincare bestsellers?

Minéral 89 by Vichy; Anthelios suncare by La Roche-Posay, and Énergie de Vie by Lancôme.

What is the secret to French women's chic beauty looks?

I think naturally flawless skin is their best secret. I would recommend embracing a daily skincare routine with hyaluronic acid and follow with a water-based mineral pigment foundation for that healthy glow.

Which French woman do you think epitomises that quintessential chic look?

For me, Marion Cotillard is the ultimate French icon.

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