American culture wouldn’t be the same without our obsession with French beauty, n’est-ce pas? While I know that not all French women espouse the brand of French sexiness celebrated in the U.S., I’m definitely guilty of desiring to invite that idea of Frenchness into my life. The tousled hair! The signature red lip! The wine! The life lived deliciously!
I’m especially interested in gleaning how to pull off the effortless look of French hairstyles, especially if that means I can skip the blowdryer in this crazy-hot summer, so let’s get to it!
The following are a few ways to channel easy but pretty French hair anyone can do—including the hair-challenged, comme moi!
How to Have Effortless, Gorgeous Hair à la The French
Work with Nature (but a Little Fudging Is Okay)
“Do not dye your hair, or if you do, only in your original color to highlight it or to hide any gray,” says Caroline de Maigret, author of How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are.
Having some experience with this tip, I can say this—when you dye your hair your own color (to disguise silvers), not too much lighter or darker, people will be surprised when you tell them it’s actually not natural. If you’re going to the salon, ask the colorist for slightly lighter ends and face-framing pieces (these areas naturally lighten in the sun anyway). If you’ve been straying from your natural color for years, find a photo of your virgin hair for inspiration.
But because we’re keeping things as low-maintenance as possible, also ask for a coloring job that will grow out as gracefully as possible, so you’re not running to the salon every few weeks.
David Mallett, whose clients include Carla Bruni and Charlotte Gainsbourg, furthers that knowing yourself is key to French beauty: “French women are afraid of being tacky or vulgar,” he says. “It’s about a beautiful extension of what they already are. It’s a cerebral type of beauty.”
“Everything is an understated, sexy, undone look,” he adds. “It’s never like they tried too hard. When it comes to hair styling, the perfect recipe is self-control and not overdoing it. It’s natural but better.”
Don’t Bother with a Hair Dryer (Yesssssss)
“Do not dry your hair with a hair dryer (in fact, you might as well throw your hair dryer away), but instead use two much more environmentally friendly resources: fresh air in summer and a towel in the winter,” de Maigret advises.
If you must use a dryer, don’t over-do it. “Nothing makes a woman look older than a stiff blow-dry,” Mallet says. “Hair has to have life and movement. French women are connected to life. When you blow-dry, leave a bit of bend, tie it up, and leave it out. Don’t over brush your hair, and finger comb bits of it instead.”
Baby Your Hair
Chic French hair may be all about going with the flow and embracing your natural color and texture, but when you’re not relying on hot tools, etc. for added glam, keeping hair well maintained is a must.
De Maigret’s stylist Vinz explains, “It’s important to start with healthy hair. French girls are obsessed with hair masks, and the very chic ones like lots of shine.”
Mallet adds that French women don’t wash their hair as often as women from other Western countries. The result? A well-moisturized scalp and healthier ends. When you do wash your hair, skip the nasty sulfates and use a gentle, color-safe shampoo.
Also, don’t stress the trims! Getting your hair cut every three months is plenty, according to Mallet.
Take Pride in Your Look
French hair (and beauty) is thoughtful—even if it appears undone. Mallet notes that he often spends up to an hour chatting with French clients about how they developed their look. (To be a fly on the wall of his salon!!)
But Also, Let Go
“Bless that magical time in the summer when your hair, with some seawater and sunshine, becomes simply perfect: a little bit rough, a little bit lighter, and a little bit salty,” says de Maigret.
What are your favorite hot-weather hair tips?
Related: Gisele’s Stylist Harry Josh Gives Advice For Hair & Life So Good, They Give You Chills
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Photo: Caroline de Maigret via Instagram, How to Be Parisian via Instagram, Jeanne Damas via Instagram