This month, in honour of Bastille Day, Costhetics is celebrating all the things we love about the French: their courage, their joie de vivre, and especially their joie de looking fantastic without any make-up.

If you’ve dreamed of waking up in the morning looking as ageless and flawless as Juliette Binoche, and other timeless French beauties, you may be surprised at their secrets.

As an added bonus, if you’re not really certain just what the heck Bastille Day is (we weren’t either!), we’ve prepared a quick, fun history lesson that includes felons, spies, and even the Marquis de Sade.

The Place the Marquis de Sade Called Home

La Fete Nationale, what non-French speakers call Bastille Day, honours the thousands of Parisiennes who stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. The structure was originally built to keep Paris safe from attack from its enemies. Over time, it became clear that King Louis was the more dangerous enemy within. He turned the Bastille into a prison where he confined and tortured felons, spies, and those perceived as enemies to the king.

Among the inmates was French nobleman, the Marquis de Sade. You may know him for his libertine sexuality, but his countrymen also knew him for his revolutionary political stance. Days before the storming of the Bastille, de Sade inflamed crowds outside the prison in a unique way. He shouted into a drainpipe that amplified his words, “They are killing the prisoners!”

A riot ensured and the Bastille was burned to the ground. The event is considered the launch of the French Revolution. It is marked annually with a lavish military parade on the Champs Élysées in Paris to celebrate French liberty, equality, fraternity…

…and let’s not forget beauty.

Where French Women Look for Beauty

Flawless.org, an advice website, compiled statistics on online cosmetic surgeries search enquiries. One result really surprised Team Costhetics:

  • ‘Face lift’ is the least searched cosmetic surgery term in France
  • ‘Liposuction’ is the #1 cosmetic surgery search term

Liposuction gets the top spot in searches, followed by:

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Abdominoplasty
  • Breast Enlargement
  • Hair Transplant
  • Eyelid Surgery
  • Ear Surgery

French Women are Discrete

French women have a reputation around the world for looking naturally beautiful without much effort. Don’t tell that to the more than 925 plastic and cosmetic surgeons who live and work there.

Talking to Glamour Magazine for their article 10 Women Who Defy the ‘French-Girl Beauty’ Trope, popular beauty vloggers pointed out French women are mad for new innovations. They adore beauty boxes and YouTube videos, which together provide the what and the how. “Our generation has become big consumers, closely following trends (often from abroad), and we spend more time in our bathrooms and take pleasure in taking care of ourselves,” said vlogger Fadela Mecheri. In both surgical and non-surgical enhancement, the number one priority with French patients is a natural-looking result.

Allergan polled over 14,584 “aesthetic-conscious consumers” from 18 different countries regarding cosmetic injectable treatments. Only 69% of French citizens feel the stigma associated with cosmetic injectable treatments has lessened over the past five years versus the global average of 82%. In other words, French women are having tweaks, they just don’t talk about them.

Could discretion be the better part of valour and anti-ageing, too?

Caroline de Maigret Gives Up on Being Perfect

It takes a lot of effort to look effortlessly perfect. The undeniably stunning Caroline de Maigret has a gift for looking thrown together in the best possible way. The secret to her style, she say told the Daily Mail includes:

  • Wash your hair every few days, so it isn’t “too” clean
  • Cut your own fringe (it’s easy), so it doesn’t look too perfect
  • Find a fabulous “signature piece” (Caroline’s is a biker jacket she found in Berlin)

When it comes to ageing, aesthetics, and cosmetic surgery, de Maigret says she and other French women have learned to feel less pressured to change their looks in response to a youth-obsessed culture. Does that mean no cosmetic surgery? Not at all. De Maigret says French women are encouraged to make their own rules, doing what feels right to them.

One key difference de Maigret points out is that French women enjoy an air of mystery and tend to be discrete about their enhancements, choosing small transformational tweaks over major makeovers. Implant sizes are smaller, and facelifts and eyelid surgeries seek to create results that are natural, rather than dramatic. “A French woman will do her neck then, six months later, her eyes. She doesn’t do it all at once. She just looks a bit fresher each time you see her,” says de Maigret.

You Don’t Need to Get It, You’ve Got It

Costhetics believes a French woman’s beauty is just as much about her mental, as her physical state. Doing it the French way is about embracing yourself fully and making whatever changes you choose to make yourself feel marvellous. (For some specific tips, check out Goop’s article How to Look Like a French Girl.)

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