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As the fashion flock settles down in Paris for their annual fashion pilgrimage, that age-old question resurfaces once more: What is it about French women? The country’s unofficial motto—to bear the torch for a kind of covetable, casual cool that relies heavily on mussed-up hair and minimal makeup—is on full display this week in front rows and sunny sidewalk cafes alike.

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“In each country, I think there is an idea of what beauty is,” suggests the Paris-based beauty blogger Violette. “But for the French, it’s very particular: What we want is to be ourselves—not a better version of ourselves. We feel like it’s better to be used to something than to try to change it. So we think: What style can I have with this face, and with this hair? That mentality is 100 percent French.” Still, she admits, there are a few local secrets for how to look perfectly imperfect, without ever trying too hard.

We compiled the top 5 essential rules that French beauties live by. For a glimpse into the French girl’s beauty bible with her eight essential rules for a Paris-approved definition of pretty, read on.

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Rule #1: Prep (Don’t Primp)

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“French women treat their ‘base’ as best as they can—so we try to have amazing skin, and an amazing body, and amazing hair, so we don’t have to do too much else,” says Claudia, a editor living in Paris. This means they spend more time devoted to keeping their skin, hair and body in good condition than they do using makeup, concealer and eyelash glue. If there’s a word that repulses in the French capital, it’s the word ‘fake;. Anything that shouts ‘overdone’ is shunned. French women rather wear tinted sunscreen than heavy two-way cake. Their philosophy is that if your complexion looks great, you don’t have to do much else. Of course, a great skin does come with its price and the French is one that does not shy away from investing in topical skincare that works, anti-aging skincare being one of the top sellers here. And unlike some of their European counterparts, the French are savvy with sun protection, after all, they would much rather carry a crocodile Birkin than look like one. Skin toning lasers, age-preventing lights are de rigueur if you want to stay current with the Parisien set.

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Rule #2: Everything in Moderation

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“The way to have good skin is not actually about what you put on your skin,” Claudia admits, in spite of her multi-step facial routine. “It’s about what you eat. French women try to eat organic as much as possible—and as little sugar as possible. We’re more concerned about sugar, not so much low-fat.” And recent studies have supported this theory as sugar is more likely to wreck havoc on your skin than fat does, and we all need some amount of fat to keep our skin supple and firm. So yes to the cheese platter but pass on the ice cream.

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Rule #3: You don’t have to ‘gym’ to slim

A French woman is like a wild horse—she is very rebellious, and she’d rather kill herself than go to the gym! However, judging by the scores of ultra skinny ladies throning the Parisien streets, you would be forgiven if you thought otherwise. French women walk everywhere, so exercise is already incorporated into their daily routine. Secondly, they are not ashamed to seek out some flab trimming therapy when they need it. While many may not meet the minimum criteria for liposuction, they will still turn to non-invasive fat reducing options to keep their figure enviably slim. For the French, there is no such thing as the middle age bulge. That, they say, is only in the mind.

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Rule #4: Commit to Regular Cuts

“French women like their hair to be very healthy and shiny, so when they wear it messy, it doesn’t look dry and damaged,” according to Violette. “We’re much more about looking for a good haircut than a good styling product,” she continues, pointing out that most French women like short or shoulder-dusting crops. A good hairstylist is therefore a French lass’s best friend. Finding one that understands your hair needs is of a higher priority than finding a good partner.

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Rule #5: Age ‘naturally’

The French would like the world to think they age ‘naturally’. No big lips, over filled faces and tell-tale facelift scars at the side of their faces. However, ‘natural’ does come with a price. They are known to resort to a bit of clever aesthetic help to minimize their aging signs, rather than completely reverse it. ‘When I get my botox done, I ask for a natural effect” says Violette, “I want to be able to move my face rather than look frozen.” The same goes for the lips. While they shin lip-plumping fillers, they are partial to line-reducing, instantly hydrating lip boosters such as Revitalift. The neck is a big thing with the French, with the Nefertiti lift being one of the more popular neck treatments they seek. “A Nefertiti Lift is when one uses small doses of Botox spread judiciously across the lower jawline and neck to relax the downward pull of the neck muscles” explains Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic. “This reduces neck lines as well as gives the lower jawline an instant uplift” she adds.

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