French Grooming Essentials – Part One


French grooming

The other day, one of my closest friends and I got to talking about the importance of grooming.

We both agreed that while there are a few blessed souls out there who can look spectacular with assistance only from a hair tie and a little lip gloss, the rest of us have to work somewhat harder.

Of all the lessons I’ve learned from the French, the importance of excellent grooming stands out.

Read anything – any book, blog or website – related to French beauty and eventually you’ll come across a paragraph, page or chapter related to the benefits of grooming.

The thinking goes along the lines of something like this. We don’t all look like supermodels but we can all make the most of what we’ve got with just the smallest amount of effort.

Years of researching all things French has taught that it is attention to the little things that allows this to happen. A dose of confidence doesn’t hurt either – French women tend to embrace their uniqueness rather than trying to ‘fix’ themselves.

I decided it might be fun to expand on that conversation my friend and I started here on Distant Francophile. Over the next few weeks, I’ll sharing some of the fabulous things I’ve learned about grooming from the French.

French Grooming Essentials – Hair.

According to Mathilde Thomas, author of The French Beauty Solution when it comes to hair the epitome of hair chic is accepting what we’ve got and making the most of it.

Mathilde – like every other writer on French grooming – goes on to share that the key to learning to accept your hair is in investing regularly in an excellent cut. She also recommends deep conditioning treatments to keep hair glossy and in good condition.

As someone who was born with unhelpful hair at best (and downright contrary at worst) this idea of acceptance has taken me a little while to come to terms with. But I do agree with the advice on the cut.

It took me years, perhaps decades, to find a hairdresser who understands my hair. While my hair still has a mind of its own, thanks to her clever work, it no longer takes me ages to style my hair and it looks presentable for a lot longer! To my mind, it is definitely worth the investment in both time and money to have hair that doesn’t completely frustrate me to tears!

In her book, Parisian Chic, style icon Ines de la Fressange recommends washing your hair everyday. Thanks to my hair type, this is another French grooming tip I subscribe to wholeheartedly.

But not everyone agrees with Ines’ advice on this one. The stylish French team behind How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are suggest that leaving your hair a few days between washes is the key to sexy, messy French hair. Personally, I think this look probably works better for those of us with longer hair. I also tend to side with Vicki Archer who suggests this is more a French girl look rather than one a French woman might try.

One thing all three of the aforementioned style guides do agree on is the fact that heat is a bad thing for your hair. They advise against using hairdryers and straighteners, recommending a more natural, low maintenance look. This is one piece of advice I won’t be following anytime soon – I just can’t imagine life without my hairdryer. I’ll continue to employ treatments to keep my hair healthy!

Your turn now. Have you learned any hair grooming tips from the French? Do you have any advice of your own to share? If so, please get busy in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.


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8 thoughts on “French Grooming Essentials – Part One

  • Jan Leishman

    My hair was easy to maintain when I was young. Very dark, thick fringe and blunt cut – but that would look ridiculous on me today. Now I am having to adjust to ‘older’ hair – that is drier and thinner and greyer. I wash it every third day – it never gets oily, I have a great cutter, but I am not so good at maintenance. I have dark foils to increase the amount of ‘pepper’ among the ‘salt’. My fringe is now ‘wispy’ and my hair prefers to fly away than hang straight. I’d love to do messy hair, but I’m not Jane Birkin (sigh). But grooming is within everyone’s reach, regardless of inevitable changes in hair, face, body. I love the French advice ‘make the most of what you’ve got’ – it’s really all you can do!

    • Janelle Post author

      Yes Jan, making the most of what you’ve got really is the only way to go. One thing that does make me smile is the French attachment to ‘low-maintenance’ looks. While they may not need much work day to day, I have a funny feeling that the ongoing maintenance that makes things so easy might take more than just a little time!

  • Taste of France

    Chignons are chic. My friends with slightly long hair (and it doesn’t even take much), will twist it up and stick a hair pin or just a pencil through it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I am amazed at how many women I know, of different ages, different hair types, different personal styles, use this technique. It’s especially good in the summer.

    • Janelle Post author

      So glad you raised the chignon Taste of France! I played with putting it in the post, but couldn’t get it to flow. But I’ve got to say that all the style guides recommend it….especially for hair that hasn’t been washed in a couple of days. When my hair was longer, it was the only way I wore my hair – which is what finally made me decide to get it cut off!! I never actually wore my hair long. Having said that, mine was never cool enough to just stick a pencil through!!

  • Kathryn

    Love this topic, Janelle, and I agree with you that a good haircut is so important — but yes, it’s hard to find the right hairdresser to do justice to one’s particular hair. I had the same hairdresser I adored for 15 years but after moving to a new city I could never find one to cut my short hair all that well since I have many cowlicks etc. and/or hairdressers I did like moved away themselves. (California, where I live, is very transient.) I have finally decided to grow out my hair to my shoulders and trim the ends myself using a YouTube video example I found, and just do a “chignon” most of the time like Taste of France suggests. I no longer color my hair due to chemicals and I am fine with that and my husband compliments my gray-ing hair. I’m having fun buying pretty clips and even faux silk flower clips which help me look pulled together and can match my outfits which is fun. I also like the EasiHair fun bun faux hair (Google it) that you can wrap around your bun to make it look different and more fun. You can match them to your hair color etc. and I just wash mine in the sink and shake it out to dry — easy! I agree with everyone here that making the best of what we have is much wiser, and more interesting, than fretting over what we don’t have! 🙂

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks Kathryn. You wouldn’t believe how much time I spend praying that my hairdresser doesn’t move on!! And I agree with the chignon idea – I tried to get the idea into the post but it just wouldn’t flow!! But it has to be the best ‘French’ hairstyle out there!!!