10.11.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #15 Le No Makeup Look



Le no makeup look is one of my favorite beauty tricks I learned while living in Paris. (If you couldn’t already tell… I write about it all the time!)

As you know one of my favorite activities in Paris was to sit for hours at a café with a cappuccino and people-watch. And while French men were very fun to observe (for other reasons)- I equally enjoyed watching the women- who, for the most part, all looked polished, yet natural. Were they wearing makeup or weren’t they? It was hard to tell but their cheeks had a natural glow, their eyes slightly defined and lips a pretty, earthy shade. I came to the conclusion that what I was observing was le no makeup look and its many variations.

I love the idea of this look and so wholeheartedly embrace it because before I discovered le no makeup look, makeup application was a bit intimidating to me. I either wore a lot of it (for going out at night) or I didn’t wear any at all- there was no in between . I never really knew how to translate makeup for day while still being tasteful.

What is so genius about the look is that it subtlety enhances your beauty- just enough to give you confidence and a certain polish. It says ‘I am a natural beauty, have great taste and am too busy with important things (like philosophizing and romancing!) to worry about applying an entire face of meticulous makeup”...

I started to experiment with my daytime look while living in Paris by emulating the fresh faced women I observed every day and I continue to cultivate and refine the look to this very day.

The following are my three favorite variations of Le No Makeup Look:

Au Natural- This look is extremely subtle. It includes a light foundation to even out the skin (either powder or tinted moisturizer), blush, mascara and a neutral lip color. It is just enough to give you a pretty, professional polish but also looks completely natural. This takes no time to apply and is a great look for everyday- for when you just want to feel pulled together.

Defined Eye- This variation boasts a defined eye and neutral lip. It uses the same process as Au Natural but employs my favorite makeup product- eyeliner. This look is very gamine- very Parisian and suggests that the wearer is chicer than the average person. She simply got out of bed, tied her hair back, slicked on some eyeliner and went about her day! (Whether that is true or not. In my case it takes a bit longer to get ready but you do get the idea).

Defined Lip-
This variation showcases a defined lip (red maybe?) and neutral eye. It would include powder, blush a bold color lipstick (berries, mauves or reds) and a neutral eye (no eyeliner- just mascara). This look is more romantic and clearly draws attention to the mouth- perfect for when you are feeling passionate, whimsical or adventurous. It also suggests that you have better things to do than carefully apply makeup everyday, but that you are feminine enough to not forget your lipstick!

Voilà my top three Le No Makeup Look variations. Even now with the baby I manage to do one of these variations a day. What with the dark circles currently under my eyes and less than radiant skin it helps to keep me feeling beautiful and is quite fun to channel my inner French girl. Charming!

Won’t you stay tuned for #14?

The above picture was taken of me in the gardens outside the Chateau de Versailles.

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

17 comments:

Fiona said...

Merci Jennifer. I really enjoy your le no makeup look posts and always learn something. I am also inspired to try out your three distinct looks and see if I can't shake things up a bit in the makeup department.

the gardeners cottage said...

i'm probably closest to the natural look myself. i only wear mascara and lipstick. what is so funny is that most of my clients think i am wearing make-up. i have to take a cotton pad and swipe my skin to prove it to them. i think it's a healthy diet and a smile that fools them all. good genes maybe too.
i personally think every woman, esp the older she gets would benefit from less makeup.

~janet

sunny said...

I adore this post! I can visualize all three looks and they do match up with French women I've met and seen.

My normal look is pretty much #1 but I'm dying to try liquid liner for #2 and a berry or red lipstick for #3. :)

Merveilleux said...

I really like this. I usually do the defined eye look. Today I'm sporting the defined lip look which I also really like!

MAMA P said...

I also love the minimal make-up look, even though women of my mother's generation always think I should spice it up and give it some punch. Whenever I do that, I feel as if I'm in drag. It doesn't feel right, and if it doesn't feel right, it ulimately won't look right. I remember when Versace got a hold of Chelsea Clinton....tragic.

Jeanne said...

Thank you for this lovely post - I adore Look #2 and eyeliner is essential to open up my Asian eyes. Glad to know that even a busy Mother of a newborn can still incorporate this regime into her day - I'll keep this in mind for when I have my future babies and strive to maintain some glamour!
My best regards to you and your family, Jeanne

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Hello, I also noticed in France how natural the makeup was. I love a defined eye but I have to wear some colour on lips as I always look half dead with paler lips. I enjoyed this post and hope you and your family are keeping well. xx

jamesxvi said...

As a guy living in Paris (in the early '90's) I learned that it's worth it to spend your last 600 francs on a bottle of Hermes perfume for your French girlfriend.

Sarah said...

When I was in France I was amazed at how gorgeous French women kept their skin with little to no makeup. So what did I do? I bought the Clairsonic Mia you recommended and I'm starting to get regular compliments. Great skin is the perfect canvas for "le no makeup look". Thanks for the post and for including look #'s 1, 2 & 3.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Fiona- Thank you! I'd love to know how you find the variations...

Janet- I think you have an advantage over all of us- vegan diet and an esthetician! Your skin must be perfect for le no makeup look. My skin is a work in progress so I do need to cover up a bit more with a tinted moisturizer or mineral powder...

Sunny- Thank you! Good luck with the liquid liner. I would love to hear how it turns out. I am hopeless with liquid liner but absolutely love the look. My favorite eyeliners are by Chanel- I love the Kohl pencils- they are really easy to apply.

Merveilleux- I usually wear #2 too. Eyeliner is my favorite beauty tool and if I had to choose to define anything on my face it would definitely be my eyes. Sometimes it's fun to skip it though and play up the lips...

Mama P- LOL When I wear too much makeup during the day I feel like I'm in drag too. My skin has been bad recently after the pregnancy and I had my makeup professionally done for a baby shower I had to attend (I thought I'd feel prettier having it done since my skin hasn't been so great). I looked great in pictures but I was wearing so much makeup I felt a bit drag queen-ish- even though I asked the makeup artist to give me her best 'no makeup look'.

Jeanne- Yes! I didn't know if I'd have time to apply makeup with baby but I definitely do. She likes to sit in her bouncy chair and watch mommy get ready. Don't believe all of the stories people tell you about how you will have no time to even brush your teeth as a mom- you can find the time to do the important things :)

Josephine- I love the pictures I've seen of you with red lipstick- so glamorous and you can definitely pull it off! I have tried really nude 'pale' lips and I look half dead too! I always need a shade of berry or brown in my lipstick- goes well with my skin... xx

James XVI- lucky girlfriend!

Sarah- I'm so glad you got the Mia and are happy with it! I got a facial recently and was talking with my esthetician about how much I love the clairisonic. She agrees- she said she couldn't live without hers either.

BigLittleWolf said...

Ah oui... And j'adore the defined eye look...

Sandy said...

I just returned from Paris. Paid special attention to the make up because I'd heard so much about the glowing skin and no make up. I did not see glowing skin, but very perfect skin, matt, expertly applied foundation in a tone that matched the skin, eye shadow that again matched the skin tone so that it looked like one was not wearing eye shadow. No blush or if so, it was the most subtle blush I'd ever seem. The lips looked matt, absolutely no lip gloss or frost. Looked like possible a pencil and then very subtle lipstick so that it looked natural. All of this looks wonderful in that northern light. I wonder if you wouldn't be washed out in Southern California where the light is more harsh. I noticed older women with more blush, again the lip color is very natural and the eyes maybe have light eyeliner and mascara. They all seem to be experts in applying their makeup. They make the rest of us look like clowns. I was wonderfing if you knew what brand of make up the French women prefer? And What about the lipstick? Do they go to a counter and ask for a color that is the same color as their lips?I never got around to a makeup counter I always seemed to be going to Museums etc. with my husband. But I am very curious as to how I can get that look, although it may not be strong enough for my face. Love to know the brands preferred etc.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Sandy- Thanks so much for your comment and questions- I love that you just got back from Paris and have seen it all with a fresh eye! You are absolutely right- during fall and winter the skin tends to be 'matte' and during spring/ summer I would say it is more glowing... I do think French women change their routine depending upon the season. For example they might use a tinted moisturizer during spring and summer seasons and switch to a matte powder foundation for fall/ winter.

As for their expert application- this remains a mystery to me. I truly think the mothers teach the daughters- either that or they go for a professional consultation when they are teenagers- because you really rarely see makeup faux pas - as you said- they can sometimes make us feel like clowns! We've all gone into a Mac store or some other makeup establishment and seen the girl with waaayyy too much makeup on. You really don't see that over there. It is considered vulgar.

As for the brands they use- French people love to buy French brands so I would assume they would use Chanel or Guerlain or another high end French label. When it comes to anything that has to do with their skin (like makeup application) they really do not go with the cheap stuff.

As for brands for you and I- Bobbi Brown does amazing 'le no makeup look' shades. Most of her colors are suited for the natural look. I would recommend going to a beauty counter and getting a girl that really knows what she is doing (you can tell by the makeup she herself will be wearing) and ask her what shades would suit your skin.

I was also in the Benefit store the other day and they have a line of lipsticks perfect for 'le no makeup look' and they literally use that phrase in their campaign- le no makeup look. It really is catching on!

Best wishes and please let us know how your quest goes...

The Daily Connoisseur said...

I also forgot to mention that I love Bare Minerals for flawless foundation that looks like you aren't wearing any at all- plus it is a mineral foundation which is even better for your skin-

Sandy said...

Ahem, urrrrrr I forgot to mention that I'm a woman of une certain age. Could you also speak a little bit about chic French women who are more, shall I say, mature. I tried the no make up look on myself, and because I let my hair grow grey naturally, I looked too kind of flat.. I know you stayed with a French family and I was wondering what make up the mother wore. You have such a wonderful blog I was wondering if you could address the "more mature' woman. You know it's hopeless in Southern California, to have grey hair and no botox. I'd like to look youthful with out looking ridiculous.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Sandy- Excellent question. France is probably the best place on earth for the woman of a certain age because they really embrace all aspects of a woman’s life as beautiful. They are not so obsessed with ‘anti-aging’. They realize that we all age so let’s get into it and explore the aspects of beauty that can befall a woman who is well… of a certain age. A great example of this is Marie-Ange Horlaville. She is the host of a great TV show on TV5Monde called ‘Nec Plus Ultra’. The show is about luxury and explores everything from fine china to fancy hotels. Madame Horlaville is a woman of a certain age- if I were to guess, I would say mid-sixties. They could have chosen a 21 year old to host this show, but instead, they realize that a woman of Madame Horlaville’s age enables her to appreciate the finer things in life more. Her makeup as the host of the show is very indicative of how older women do their makeup in France. And I would say it comes closest to variation 3- the defined lip look. The no makeup look is employed, but Marie-Ange always wears lipstick- usually red. I think to wear color on the lips can bring color to the face, when perhaps it is feeling a bit washed out and is a great option. Everything else is very minimal. If one has wrinkles, for example, it is best to wear less makeup as sometimes foundation can seep into the skin and make wrinkles appear worse than they are. So lipstick is key. Of if you do not enjoy wearing lipstick- I would suggest finding a natural blush- anything to bring back color to the face. As for grey hair… in France it could go one of two ways. Either a woman would embrace her grey and have a fabulous head of all grey hair (this would have to be a short hair cut) or she would color the grey out. French women love to get their hair done. They all have their ‘signature cut’ whatever looks best for them and they usually will color it if needed. It can get tricky if there are a few grey strands here or there. If you have a head full of grey hair and you love the color, I say go with it- embrace it. Silver hair really is beautiful. Madame Chic was a woman of a certain age (she still is actually!) and she had a very chic bob- very Parisian- and it worked for her. She had dark hair and I don’t know if she colored it or not, it just looked natural. She also wore very minimal makeup but the French take great care of their skin so she didn’t need very much. I will expand on your question with a post dedicated to it in the New Year when I go in depth on each of these topics. For now, I hope I adequately answered your question. Merci!

Sandy said...

Fortunately I have a marvelous Euopean woman I buy make up from. I told her of my desire for Le French no makeup look. I purchase a makeup tint foundation from her that simply disapears and leaves a glow to my skin. She also has a light reflecting cream that I put on under my eyes and above my cheek bones. So that I do have a glowy look. Today I wanted to natural lipstick look that you professed. UGH! I can't do it with the grey hair, I just fade away. So we tried your lip stick suggestion and wow! I've got bright fuschia lips ( toned down a tad) and it just brightens me up. My eyes look like all I have on is mascara and eye brows, but subtle. So you're idea worked out great. I feel like the woman I saw riding a bike, wearing a leopard print coat and a slash of blinding fuschia lipstick.

 
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