In the name of ‘investigative journalism,’ we PD editors have done deep dives into French beauty secrets numerous times in the past. But what can we say—even after all the years of research and observation, we still keep discovering more. Today’s edition comes thanks to Jeanne Damas, a virtual unknown in the U.S. who is pretty much a national treasure in France, a first-generation influencer (she built her platform on Tumblr), beauty and fashion entrepreneur, and model.
Honestly, when I first encountered Damas circa 2013, I didn’t find her compelling in the way I find French beauties like Audrey Tatou or Jane Birkin or even Melanie Laurent to be attractive. Typically I’m fascinated by an intelligent sensibility; Damas’s exceptionally wide-set eyes sort of look like they’re always lost off-yonder even while looking at the camera, and more often than not she’s gazing everywhere but the lens. Then I realized, oh, that is what it means to be cool.
And then I realized I actually really like her style and her candor. She makes joie de vivre seem so possible, sexiness so attainable, and we need those things so much right now to balance our uncertain and dark times. I’ve been finding myself reaching more for red lipstick, possibly as an emotional security blanket against all the things that are wrong in the world. And you know what? If that gets you through the day or the week, lipstick away.
Jeanne Damas has the exact same copy of Beauvoir’s The Woman Destroyed that I have. So, we’re basically the same.
Naturally, Damas has possibly the most trademark red lip in the world today—and her skincare and makeup makes me rethink everything about my routine. Ready for some brilliant French beauty secrets, courtesy of Damas?
Stick to classic, beloved French brands
Damas uses Joelle Ciocco lotion that washes out hard minerals from the water (note: tap water in France is very mineral-y, as are certain parts of the U.S.) and restores healthy microbiome to your skin. It’s loaded with plant collagen and organic silicon to moisturize and revitalize. Afterwards, she seals in the moisture with the Joelle Ciocco Elixir Nutritif to eliminate toxins from chronic inflammation and restore natural elasticity. Once a week, she uses the overnight Sisley Black Rose Mask—which is a cult-favorite that even Meghan Markle swears by. “I put it on and I go to sleep with it, and I have to sleep weirdly so it doesn’t get all over. But it’s OK, because the day after everyone asks me, ‘What did you do to your skin?’ It’s crazy,” says Damas. Now I am really curious—might be my next beauty splurge!
Less is more with skin and eyes
“I curl my eyelashes, but I don’t have mascara at home, just for shooting. I love to see the natural lashes,” says Damas. This is news to me—I think mascara is hugely important to American women. In France though, it’s all about the lips. Damas also like to play it natural with just a few dabs of concealer under the eyes and around the nose, and a clear brow gel.
It’s all about the lips
Rouge à lèvre in Jeanne, 25 Euro
This gorgeous lipstick is what I think a perfect true red (read: not blue, more vintage) looks like. The packaging is so sumptuous, it’s made in Italy, and vegan! And if the shade comes across as super bright, don’t be afraid.
“I like when [a lipstick look] is not perfect, even if it’s a little bit too much or too little,” Damas says, so go forth with confidence. “I put the lipstick on my cheeks, and sometimes on the nose so it’s more natural,” she explains. And at first, that makes you think of Bozo the Clown, until you realize the reason red lipstick can look so stark is that it can brighten the rest of your face to paper-white. If you create just a tiny tint of the same shade on the canvas of your face, the lips don’t look so artificial. Ground. Breaking.
“I reapply lipstick all day—I feel naked without lipstick. Even when I go to sports, I have no other makeup, no concealer, but lipstick, yeah. I don’t know, when you’re used to it it’s difficult to stop,” she says, and frankly it’s the easiest way to add some glamour to your life in a pinch.
No conditioner, just hair serum
This is one that I find hard to wrap my mind around, but Damas prefers just using a Leonor Greyl shampoo (she says a natural shampoo “is stickier and adds volume to flat hair”). She skips conditioner and goes for David Mallett hair serum to restore shine. Dissecting this with my beauty expertise here, I think this may have to do with high-mineral content in Parisian tap water. Jeanne, have you seen this Peaceful Dumpling-original beauty trick for that?
Intentionally “bad” haircut
“I go to Delphine Courteille for my cut, she has been my hairdresser for eight years. She cuts my bangs—she knows how to cut it ‘bad,’ because I like it not too perfect. Sometimes it’s not a bang, and sometimes it’s a bang, and she knows how to do it right,” Damas says. What’s interesting about this is that actually, French hairdressers are incredible with precision cutting—they don’t use thinning shears and cut diagonally to thin out layers, which creates beautifully tapered locks. But they also don’t want things to be too even, too symmetric. Noted.
Embrace your natural aroma
“I never use fragrance—I like to smell the real odor of people. I don’t know why.” Well, she makes even that sound sexy. How is that for très cool?
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Photo: Jeanne Damas via Instagram