5 Beauty Hacks I've Learned While Living in France

1. L'Oréal has the best budget hairspray. A longtime fan of Elnett, I ran to the store the other day to restock. As I reached for the iconic gold can, another bold product line from L'Oréal Paris caught my eye. I'll admit I'm a sucker for the volumizing products, so I was quickly sold on the Boost It! label and 6.50 price tag. The verdict? When they say très forte, they mean it. This stuff is strong, even for a hairspray junkie like me. Still, it's a good value for the price. Just make sure to use a light hand when you spray and you'll be fine. I also tried the mousse from the same line and that one is a keeper. 

2. For the skincare illiterate (ahem, me), the French pharmacy is amazing. Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes in this country has probably noticed the green signs on just about every corner. At first I found it excessive. How many pharmacies can one neighborhood possibly need?? A lot, apparently. Regardless of location or time of day, there always seems to be a line. Then I started to come around. Well, I thought, all these people must be on to something. Whether you're market for a good everyday face wash (Darphin), a sunscreen that won't make you break out (La Roche Posay), or the latest in anti-wrinkle technology (more on that in a bit), the French have an answer. 

Cleanser: Darphin gel mousse purifiant à la réglisse, 125 mL, €19.90.

Cleanser: Darphin gel mousse purifiant à la réglisse, 125 mL, €19.90.

This Darphin cleanser is my latest pharmacy find. At 20 euros, it's a bit pricey, but it lasts forever! I use the tiniest dab - a little goes a long way with this stuff. I have combination skin that seems to be both oily and dry at the same time, but using this face wash at night seems to do the trick.

3. Sleep with your hair in a bun for "I woke up like this" loose waves in the morning. I can't take credit for this one, but as soon as this article came across my Pinterest feed, I knew I had to give it a whirl. As a devout night showerer, I could relate the the author's complaint about how going to sleep with slightly damp hair can be a bit of a gamble. You never know what you're going to get. Takes me back to my middle school days of sleeping with braids in my hair only to take them out the next morning and find my locks more kinky than wavy. Sometimes it works out and you wake up with perfectly tousled tresses, but other times it's quite the opposite (hello, weird part at the back of my scalp). Anyway, twisting the hair into a hair loose bun actually preserves volume while preventing the hair from getting too mashed down from the pillow. I like to do this with damp hair, after applying a bit of mousse to it. Then when I wake up in the morning, it's just spray and go!

4. It's never too early to start with the anti-aging products. Back to the pharmacy situation. On the hunt for a new skincare routine last fall, I walked in and explained my request to the pharmacist. After examining my face, she immediately asked, "Pensez-vous aux produits antirides?" Well, no, I wasn't thinking about anti-wrinkle products up until that moment. As I tried to recover from my initial shock, she steered me toward an affordable brand (Coup d'Éclat) with a premières rides line of products. A few minutes later I was walking out with a new face wash and cream for my "first wrinkles" (!)

Anti-aging cream + cleanser: Coup d'Éclat crème confort premières rides, 250 mL, €12 // Coup d'Éclat mousse démaquillante oxygenante, 200 mL, €8.

Anti-aging cream + cleanser: Coup d'Éclat crème confort premières rides, 250 mL, €12 // Coup d'Éclat mousse démaquillante oxygenante, 200 mL, €8.

5. Rock a bold lip - during the day. As someone who's always been more into eye makeup, I only recently warmed up to the idea of wearing red lipstick at night, let alone during daylight hours. Then I spent the day in Paris with a friend and his impossibly chic girlfriend. With the rest of her makeup minimal, she was sporting a bright red lip. And it worked! So French ; ) 

And those are my tips, gleaned from months of careful observation and a (slightly traumatic) trip to the pharmacy. 

-Stephanie