Ah, the French. Our obsession with the style aesthetic of French women is well documented here on Who What Wear. Mainly because French women are known for their classic, effortless beauty and fashion vibes. They stick with the simple, chic things they know while remaining perfectly blasé about what’s cool for now. This is especially true for French women over the age of 50—women like actress Isabelle Huppert, former French first lady and model Carla Bruni and Vogue Paris editor in chief Emmanuelle Alt, who manage to gracefully age like (pardon the cliché) a fine bottle of Bordeaux. Ugh, how we aspire to the French woman’s approach to getting older…
A recent conversation with Marie-Laure Fournier, president of Fournier PR + Consulting, inspired us to put together the following shopping list of the makeup products French women over 50 swear by. “A French women at 50 years old is magnifique, self-confident, and has nothing to prove to anyone anymore—and she shows it,” Fournier told us. “Her makeup is sophisticated but also adapted to her needs and her image. Basically, at 50 years old, a French woman completely understands that when it comes to makeup, less is more.”
So even though the following makeup products may not exactly be revolutionary in the beauty space, they’re the ones French women of a certain age will never part with. Keep scrolling for these holy-grail French lipsticks, eyeliners and more.
1. Dior Mascara
The beauty aisles are chockablock with dozens and dozens of gimmicky new mascaras, but for French women of a certain age, choosing what to use on their lashes is easy: “The favourite mascara that French women at 50 years grew up with and are still faithful to is Dior, of course,” says Fournier. And only ever two or three coats.
2. Guerlain Bronzer
Guerlain’s iconic bronzer formula is loaded with moisturising properties, making it perfect for maturing skin, which requires extra hydration. “Nothing will ever replace Guerlain Terracota Bronzer,” says Fournier. “Guerlain still is the one bronzer that all French women go for.”
3. Red Lipstick
Lipstick is arguably the single most important product in every French woman’s makeup arsenal, no matter her age. And red lipstick is everything. “At 50 years old, you can still love your red lipstick, but you need to re-think the colour of the red lipstick depending on your skin tones and your teeth colour,” Fournier explains—and French women understand this. So many opt for reds on the berry side of the spectrum. “At 50 years old, you go to Armani or Chanel,” Fournier adds. “These are sure value.”
4. Yves Saint Laurent Highlighter
“Obviously, we have to talk about YSL Touche Eclat, which is as normal to wear in France as it is to have a café at the end of a meal,” says Fournier. The classic brightening pen adds subtle luminosity to the face without any glitter or sparkle—just glowy hydration with the help of intensely skin-quenching ingredients like ruscus extract, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
5. Chanel Eye Shadow
“The eye shadows will always be Chanel,” Fournier affirms. Especially in subtly shimmery browns, golds and champagnes, which can easily take you from day to night.
6. Brown and Olive Eyeliner
Second to lipstick, eyeliner (or crayon pour les yeux) is the second most crucial ingredient in the French woman’s makeup repertoire. “The only change that a French woman makes when she is in her 50s is the colour,” says Fournier. “At 50, you might use black for a special evening and a brown or olive for everyday. A brown or olive crayon eye pencil will give you a softer look.” Lancôme, By Terry and especially Yves Saint Laurent make the most beloved eye pencils.
7. Red and Nude Nail Polish
Not a makeup product per se, but Fournier says that we can’t talk about French women’s makeup without mentioning nail polish. Younger French girls like to match their nail colour to their lip colour, while those over 50 tend to go a more practical route. “French women love to have their own nail polishes and their go-to is Dior,” says Fournier, adding that French women who want a cleaner, greener option might go for polishes by chic, 85% natural brand Kure Bazaar.
This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
Next up, 14 French beauty brands I know you’ll love as much as I do.