Everything You Need To Know About The French Skin Care Routine 

The ultimate cheat sheet to the popular and holistic skin care rituals from France.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Kendall R. RoehlDr. Kendall R. Roehl, MD, FACS
By Arshiya SyedaArshiya Syeda  • 

The French skin care routine is not as aggressive as its American counterpart and is not as intense as the Korean routine. It is all about embracing the flaws, keeping the skin au naturel while taking pleasure in caring for your skin. The French beauty routine is effortless and focused on core products for long-term benefits instead of instant results.

If you are smitten by the flawless skin of the French women and want to give this routine a try, scroll down to find a step-by-step guide to the French skin care routine.

A Step-By-Step Guide To The Ultimate French Skincare Regime

French beauty is all about looking natural. That is why their skin care routine focuses on removing skin impurities. This easy-to-follow regimen is broken down into 5 major steps, which are as follows:

1. Cleanse Your Face

Woman cleansing her face as part of the French skincare routine

Image: Shutterstock

Ensuring that your face is completely clean is an important part of any daily routine. It unclogs the pores by removing the build-up of oil, dust, and grime. This not only prevents acne and oiliness but also allows the pores to better absorb the nutrients from other skin care products.

An authentic French skin care routine typically involves the use of micellar water a product that contains purified water, mild surfactantsi  XChemical compounds or agents that decrease the surface tension thereby increasing its spreading and wetting properties. , and a variety of moisturizers such as glycerin. This gentle product can easily remove everything from makeup to dirt (1). This cleanser is also alcohol-free, which is particularly beneficial for people with sensitive skin (2).

The best way to apply micellar water to your face is as follows:

  • Soak a cotton pad in a decent amount of micellar water.
  • Gently dab the cotton pad all over your dry face.
  • Do not wash it off.

Unlike most skin care routines, the French beauty regimen involves the second round of cleansing and makes use of a milk cleanser. This skin care formula generally consists of emollienti  XA substance that helps moisturize the skin by forming a protective layer or barrier on the skin and trapping moisture. -rich ingredients like squalene, jojoba oil, and vitamin E.

The milk cleanser breaks down the stubborn dirt particles and makes it easier for the toner to remove them. It is also credited with the ability to reinforce the skin cell membrane and is said to be incredibly gentle and can be used even on dry and sensitive skin. Having said this, do note that more research is required to prove the same.

To use a milk cleanser:

  • Apply a few drops of milk cleanser to your cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin.
  • Using the pads of your fingers, gently rub the product in like you would with a lotion.
  • Wipe the product off with a damp cotton cloth and move on to the next step.

2. Use A Toner

Toning your face is a vital part of the French women’s skin care routine. It prevents dirt build-up by minimizing the size of the pores and removes the dust particles stuck in them. This results in a healthy, bright skin tone.

Moreover, a good toner will balance out your skin’s pH level and revitalize its protective barrier, thereby increasing its overall health and vitality.

When looking for the perfect toner, opt for one that contains aloe vera or rose water, as these ingredients are said to help brighten your face and prevent acne. However, more research is required to prove this.

Here is how you can apply toner:

  • Soak a cotton pad with a few drops of toner.
  • Run the cotton pad all over your face.
  • Leave the toner on and let it get absorbed into your skin before carrying on with the next step.

3. Apply A Serum

Woman applying face serum as part of the French skincare routine

Image: Shutterstock

French skin care is all about fixing any skin issues that you may face. This includes wrinkles, pigmentation, acne, and so on.

Serums are primarily used for this purpose. They are full of nutrients that can brighten your skin and protect it from free radical damage. Specific vitamins, like vitamin C, are said to make your skin look younger. It can also help your skin repair itself.

Apply the serum on your face as soon as the toner gets absorbed into the skin. To use this product:

  • Take a few drops of serum on your fingertips.
  • Gently dab it under your eyes and on your cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin, focusing more on any problem areas that you have. Do not rub it in like you would a cream.
  • Wait for it to get absorbed.

4. Moisturization Is Key

Next up on the French women’s skin care routine is moisturizing your skin. Interestingly, most women opt for a moisturizing oil here instead of a moisturizing cream. This is mainly done for two reasons:

  • Oil does not have much water content. This means that the nutrients present in the oil are not diluted and, therefore, have a better and more apparent effect on the skin.
  • Oil is lighter than cream and hydrates your pores instead of just clogging them.

You can follow up the moisturizing oil with a night cream. This product is generally heavier than regular moisturizers and consists of different vitamins and minerals that aid and speed up the cell renewal process.

Like most French women, you can follow this same routine in the morning as well simply swap out the night cream for a day cream. Day creams are lighter in texture and work well with makeup. Moreover, they contain some amount of SPF protection, thus shielding your skin from the sun.

5. End It With A Face Mask

Woman with a face mask as part of the French skincare routine

Image: Shutterstock

The French approach to skin care is never complete without a relaxing face mask. This product helps eradicate various skin issues, remove the excess oil on your skin, and hydrate the face. It is also extremely refreshing and will make your skin feel ready for the day.

protip_icon Trivia
Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, was known to have a signature facial mask that contained powdered milk, an egg, cognac, and lemon juice. She used it to achieve glowing skin.

For the best results, select products that suit your specific skin type and needs.

For the average French woman, skin care does not only involve a particular routine. It also means making several lifestyle changes that will benefit your skin in the long run. Read the next section to find out what these lifestyle changes are.

Things To Keep In Mind When Attempting The French Skincare Routine

Mentioned below are a few French beauty tips that you should keep in mind to get flawless skin:

1. Make Sure To Hydrate

Dehydration is the enemy of good skin. Inadequate water intake can cause your skin’s elasticity to decrease, which will result in premature aging. This includes developing wrinkles, fine lines, and looking dull and lifeless.

Furthermore, without water, your skin will not be able to perform its daily duties, such as adequately protecting you from the harmful rays of the sun. This will lead to dry and uneven skin. To avoid this, we recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can use a hydration reminder app on your phone to monitor your water intake throughout the day.

2. Invest In Different Skin Treatments

Woman getting facial treatment

Image: Shutterstock

French beauty is all about looking natural. As such, you need to ensure that your skin is in the best condition possible.

From facials to dermatological treatments, there are several treatments available in the market today. Each of these will help you achieve the skin of your dreams. In addition to this, we recommend using nose strips if you have any blackheads or whiteheads.

3. Limit The Makeup You Use

Makeup, while gorgeous to look at, can build up on your skin and clog your pores. This could eventually cause your skin to turn oily and become susceptible to breakouts. This is especially true if you do not remove your makeup at the end of the day.

To prevent this, try limiting the makeup that you apply on a daily basis.

4. Pay Special Attention To Your Shower Products

Most of the time, the French skin care regimen begins in the shower. This means that all the shower products they use like body washes and soaps are extremely hydrating and contain the ingredients needed to solve their skin concerns.

Hence, when buying your shower products, research the ingredients and make sure that they match your skin type and can solve your skin issues.

5. Do Not Forget SPF

Woman applying sunscreen

Image: Shutterstock

Sun protection is a must when it comes to the French girl’s skin care regimen. It shields your skin from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun and ensures that your complexion remains even.

Additionally, a good sunscreen can help reduce the signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines, which are generally caused due to overexposure to the sun. Moreover, they ensure that your skin retains its healthy condition by protecting its vital proteins, such as collagen.

The right sunscreen for you largely depends on your skin type. Mentioned below are the different types of sunscreen that you should get based on your skin type:

  • Oily Skin

People with combination and oily skin should opt for a lightweight sunscreen that is preferably in gel form. These sunscreens are known for their cooling effect and get easily absorbed into your skin without clogging your pores.

Additionally, by using a gel instead of a cream, you are sure to get a great matte base that works wonderfully with any makeup that you may later apply. A good SPF 25 sunscreen will help you get the job done.

  • Dry Skin

If you have dry or sensitive skin, take note of all the ingredients in a particular sunscreen. Opt for a lightweight formula that is free of any essential oils or perfumes. This will ensure that you get the appropriate protection without reacting negatively to the chemicals.

However, before applying the sunscreen, we suggest conducting a patch test to ensure that it is good for you. Just apply a small amount to your forearm and leave it on for 24 hours. After the required time, check for redness and irritation. If you cannot find any, it means that the sunscreen is safe to use.

  • Normal Skin

If you have normal skin, opt for an SPF 50 sunscreen that contains antioxidants. Antioxidants can help improve the elasticity of your skin and slow down the aging process (3).

6. Use DIY Remedies

Organic ingredients and beauty products are a major part of French skin care. Today, you can find several recipes online that make use of natural ingredients. These homemade masks, creams, and face packs provide your skin with the nutrients it requires to remain healthy and is super easy to make at home.

A great example of this is an oatmeal face mask. Follow these steps to make your own at home:

You Will Need 

  • 1/2 cup of hot water
  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons of yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 egg white

How To Make

  • To a medium-sized bowl, add the water and oatmeal. Set aside for 2-3 minutes.
  • Whisk the yogurt, honey, and egg white into the oatmeal.
  • Keep mixing until properly combined.

How To Use

  • Apply a thin layer of the face pack to your face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with warm water.
  • Repeat this at least once a week.

The French skincare routine focuses on using products that provide healthy and glowing skin in the long run. The routine consists of cleansing, toning, serum, moisturizing, and a face mask. Along with this, you can also use organic ingredients such as oatmeal to provide nutrition and hydration to your skin. Make sure that you select products that are suitable for your skin type. Staying hydrated, using sunscreen lotion, trying various skincare treatments, and using minimal makeup can give you smooth, soft, glowing, and healthy skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do the French use retinol?

Yes, the French use retinoli  XAn over-the-counter formulation of vitamin A that helps unclog pores and increases collagen production. in their skin care regimen. It is sold in the form of facial creams and peels and is used on a regular basis.

Do the French wear sunscreen?

Yes, the French use sunscreen as a part of their skin care regimen. A survey revealed that 79% of the French use sunscreen regularly.

Key Takeaways

  • The French beauty routine embraces flaws and relies on long-term results instead of instant gratification.
  • The French skin care routine consists of five steps: cleansing, toning, serum, moisturizing, and face mask.
  • Make this regimen more effective by applying sunscreen regularly, applying less makeup, and staying hydrated.


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