1 Look out for No. 1: “Frenchwomen are more elegant, more aware of their femininity,” says Dr. Michel Soussaline, a Paris plastic surgeon. “They simply take care of themselves better.”
2 Keep it natural: Heavy makeup emphasizes wrinkles and pores. A little blush, mascara and lip color are all most Frenchwomen use. They spend a lot on skin care and beauty products, but not always on the most expensive brands.
3 No soap: They use lotions and hydrating creams for the face (and body), often applied with a cosmetics sponge that provides enough abrasiveness to remove dead cells but not hurt delicate skin.
4 The wonder of water: Frenchwomen swear by cold-water rinses – after face-cleaning, shampoo or shower. They say it improves circulation, bringing all-important oxygen to the skin cells.
5 Diet: Women of a certain age maintain their weight by eating carefully: fresh, never-processed, foods, especially fruits and vegetables, in small portions. If they do put on the kilos, they take them off immediately — with the aid of pills or other treatments.
6 Exercise: Why? Go to a spa instead.
7 The doctor is in: Frenchwomen love their dermatologists. As one friend put it, why take a chance with over-the-counter skin remedies, when doctors can provide treatments that really work. Besides, the visits are largely covered by the French medical system.
8 The surgeon is in: If Frenchwomen opt for cosmetic surgery, the objective is to look like themselves – not someone 20 years younger.
9 The look: Paris, like New York, is becoming very informal, but Frenchwomen never try to dress like their daughters. Accessories count: good jewelry, fantastic shoes or boots, and a scarf casually wrapped to conceal those neck wattles. And since Frenchwomen tend to have great legs (with help from varicose vein treatments), they wear more skirts and dresses than their American counterparts.
Think sexy: As the French writer Françoise Sagan wrote: “A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to take it off you.” Buy some fun, new underwear.