French Grooming Essentials – Part Four

French Perfume

Lately, we’ve been extending a conversation that a good friend and I started about the importance of grooming. And it turns out that French women have bucketloads of tips to help you look your best.

We’ve already covered the big names – hair, eyebrows and skincare – so today I thought we should discuss all the little things. The French seem to understand inherently that paying attention to the small details packs a big punch in terms of their overall image.


French Polish

Take fingernails for example. Typically elegant and never over the top, French women know that scrappy nails can undo their look in an instant. In How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are, Caroline de Maigret and her stylish friends tell us that French women wear their nails short, neat and often without polish.

For a little while now, I’ve been going without polish, opting instead for buffing my nails for a healthy looking shine. Interestingly, I’ve learned that while this may be a simple look, it certainly isn’t effortless. Keeping all your nails at an even length is essential, and your cuticles must be in tip-top condition. (Sadly, my cuticles often look less than sparkly but I’ve found pure vitamin E oil applied directly to my nails works a treat.)

When French women decide to get their nails painted, my research at Parisian nail salons suggests that all shades of red are perennial favourites. This same research has also helped me decide that Parisian women get their nails manicured regularly – I could ascertain this almost immediately by the familiar way that the clients and the technicians greeted each other.

It is also worth noting that I’ve never, ever seen so much as ‘shellac’ in a Parisian nail salon, let alone acrylic nails!


Scent Of A Woman

We all know that scent evokes memories, which is why French women adore perfume. I guess they also like to smell good. And if you want to surround yourself with quality scent, it’s hard to go past French perfume.

All the big perfume names are French. Think Guerlain, Serge Lutens, Chanel and Annick Goutal. And the perfumeries themselves are stunning, with light bouncing off cut glass. No wonder French women love perfume so much.

Ines de la Fressange shares a large number of perfume tips in her book Parisian Chic. She reminds us to always keep an emergency bottle of scent in the car and to never overpower others with out perfume. It really is a case of less is more.

Ines also cautions us to avoid trendy perfumes, suggesting instead that we should aim for something more individual. As someone who happily went about having a bespoke perfume created, I certainly agree with that tip.



As we discussed last week, French women seem far more interested in skincare than they do in make-up. Anything you read over any medium suggests that, in France, make-up is kept to a minimum.

One exception to this rule is red lipstick. It is regularly recommended – and why not. A red lip almost always looks fabulous.

Of course, French women aren’t silly enough to think that one red will suit all. Non, non, non. If you are going to wear red, then it has to be the right red. While I suggest a few face friendly reds in this piece, the best advice I can give you is to try a few reds. It doesn’t take as long as you might think to narrow it down to the right red for you.


Over to you now. Which small detail grooming tips have your learned from the French? Do you have any advice of your own to share? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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6 thoughts on “French Grooming Essentials – Part Four

  • Claire

    Being a red head, I’ve never worn or found a ‘red’ lipstick that suited me – until Paris.
    A visit to the flagship Chanel store in Rue Cambon found me the most beautiful, long lasting nicest lipstick I’ve ever worn, and in a perfect red for me.
    I love it and wear it nearly every day.

    • Janelle Post author

      There is nothing quite like the joy of finding your very own perfect red lipstick. And even better if you can find it in an iconic Parisian store. Enjoy Claire.

      • Claire

        Hi Carrie, like I said above, I really didn’t believe that everyone could wear a red lipstick.
        The one I found, and wear nearly everyday, unless I’m wearing bright purple, is Antoinette, number 406 in the Rouge Coco range.
        It is the same price in Myer as it is in Paris.

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Janet. What a great question!! It’s one I don’t know the answer to, but I’m sure someone in this community will help us out. Fellow francophiles, can you answer Janet’s question? Thanks in advance.