It’s Different for Girls

I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I was going to say I don’t wear any, but I do wear mascara and blush, and that counts as makeup. However I’ve never been heavy on it. I left America before the makeup artist craze hit. Also I’m hopeless and cannot apply makeup to save my life so I end up looking quite terrible and not like myself. Previously, at most, I would wear foundation (the Armani water one), mascara, eyeliner, and blush. When I moved to France I stopped wearing it all together. I loved how little emphasis Frenchwomen seemed to put on it.

Also when I moved something in the water or the air made my skin really great. For the first few months my skin was amazing. But then I got used to it and it leveled out. 

In France wearing makeup is a thing. They tell you Frenchwomen are so inherently beautiful they don’t need it, but Frenchgirls wear it. I’ve been in enough French homes to know, not just what’s in their cabinets, but to also see them getting dressed, and you’d be surprised by just how many lotions and potions they use. I’ve seen them applying it on the metro in the morning on the way to work too, which is a feat in and of itself. They are certainly on par with every other woman in the Western world. They just keep it on the low better.

However the difference is the level of makeup. Anglos (British and American) wear an insane amount. I see women sometimes and I am genuinely freaked out by the amount they have on. You shouldn’t need to change your face that much. That is something they just don’t do in France.

Beauty products however are different. When I first moved there I thought I would go crazy with beauty products, but that didn’t really happen. I used Klorane on my hair. I tried Vichy, Bioderma, and Claudalie on my face. I regularly use Homeoplasmine as lipgloss because they don’t have Chapstick, but I found La Roche Posay (thanks to a woman I used to work and their ads in the winter), and that’s where I’ve been ever since. In fact if I try to use anything other than La Roche my skin goes into meltdown mode and I break out in weird cystic acne rashes along my jawline. Even American products I used to use give me an allergic reaction now. But guess what puts it right? La Roche Posay. It’s made exclusively for sensitive skin so I suppose in a way it’s made my skin sensitive to anything else. I guess I will be using their products until the day I die. 

In a way I hate it. When I came back to America I saw the TJ Maxx beauty aisle and went on a crazy skincare buying binge. I’m obsessed with any beauty products that claim to totally transform skin so being in America, where fads are life, I had a field day. But then my skin started breaking out so I went back exclusively to my good old La Roche products. Cleanser, serum and moisturizer. That’s what living in France teaches you. Less is best. 

Although I had one splurge in France: Masque Bar collagen sheet masks. I used to go to the Monoprix across the street from my house every week and get them for 2,99€. At first I would do one every time Christian Kinnersley came into town. Then I started doing them every other day (before bed so the product soaks in overnight). I was sure they made me glowy. Christian never noticed, and he was highly critical of me so he would have, but I was sure they did something.

Anyhow being back in America with my adopted Frenchgirl skin routine is nice. I save a ton of money because I don’t use 50 products. Although even my slimmed down skincare isn’t always cheap. If I went all out and bought my Lierac serum (90€), and my Filorga moisturizer (55€) and eye cream (40€) (the night cream is another 50€), in addition to my La Roche cleanser ($20), serum ($40), moisturizer ($20) and SPF moisturizer ($20) every month, it would be expensive. The pandemic, and face masks, means I can save a bit of money by not indulging everyday. However compared to what normal American women spend my routine is probably a bargain. 

Besides my face products, I used SVR Topialyse body wash but it doesn’t exist here (they barely started selling La Roche and Vichy here). For a few years I was using Bioderma’s Atoderm wash, but it felt pointless because you just washed it off. It never made my skin soft enough. 

In America I lather in the shower with Olay collagen body wash (although I’m pretty sure collagen body wash is a scam). After my night shower I soak myself in either nourishing oils of jojoba, collagen, and vitamin e, or I slather myself in retinol and collagen lotion depending on how lazy I’m being. All of this I keep in my beauty fridge in my bathroom (yes I actually caved and bought one). I also have moisturizing gel gloves and booties I slip on at night, in addition to my silk eye mask (to prevent eye wrinkles and products from soaking in), my silk hair scrunchie (to prevent breakage) before laying my head down on my silk pillowcases (also to prevent wrinkles and breakage). I’ve been debating getting a wrinkle pillow that forces you to lay on your back all night. 

In the morning I put on a de-puffer gel bead full face mask, or eye mask, and then those disposable eye gel patches, which I also keep in the fridge to ensure extra de-puffing. To say I am aiming to be the best preserved corpse in the morgue is an understatement. People always think I’m 23 so something must be working (although I never go in the sun so it may just be that). 

Now that I’m in America I also take something like 100 vitamins a day (exaggerating). Cortisol supplements, collagen, biotin, St. John’s Wort, Evening Primrose oil, fish oil, magnesium, vitamin D (for Covid protection), Green Tea because it’s too hot here to drink it, there are more but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head. Plus I drink meal replacement shakes every morning because I’ve never been able to eat right when I wake up. I also down 2 tablespoons of Apple cider vinegar a day, and drink a lot of juices. But I’ve always been obsessed with juice. I can’t get my 5 a day because I don’t get hungry that much so if I can get it in juice form, I look for any and all ways to do that. France has better options for that by the way. 

I never took extra vitamins in France. Meal replacement shakes are 16€ for a 4pk, and you need a prescription to buy them. I once tried to get into the habit of taking Mag 2 (it comes in these cool little glass vials), but I was too poor to afford it regularly. You’ll always see magnesium posters all over pharmacy windows promoting that it helps with stress and fatigue. The French really love magnesium or something. 

All of this brought up the question though; why do Americans try so hard compared to the French? Is it because we have too much disposable income so we need to spend it on something? I don’t know, but while I certainly scaled down my routine after living in France, I can’t seem to let go of the great American fads all together. I certainly wouldn’t be doing all this if I still lived in France. We have too much access to cheap trends for sure, and it isn’t always a good thing. I suggest everyone try the French way. You might find that you like it.