Hannah Betts’s Better… not young: The secret behind this “au natural” French look…

My preparation for Easter was spent in gay Paris, parading through museums and stuffing myself with mille-feuilles.

On the beauty side, the French are known for their excellent mid-priced parapharmacy brands, available in pharmacies that appear on every street corner (there are 33 pharmacies for every 100,000 inhabitants).

I love Nuxe, Vichy, Bioderma, Caudalie and La Roche-Posay, while a tube of Avène’s best-selling Tolerance Control Soothing Repair Cream (£14, boots.com) and Extremely Gentle Cleanser (£9 .60) saved me when my skin started peeling off in the snow and wind. Paris in the spring, huh?

When I wasn’t losing myself in art, I spent my time contemplating the women of the city. It’s true, Parisiennes are a breed apart.

Hannah Betts explains how you can achieve the natural French look effortlessly. She says a lot of work goes into it, like using a baseball cap to style wet hair.

Toned, (slightly) tanned, in good taste, their discreet outfit is as much a part of the Parisian uniform as the large coat/sneakers/chic bag formula of the Instagram account Parisiens in Paris.

Don’t let the air of carelessness fool you. These women spend an awful lot of time and money on their looks – they’re just damned if they let us know.

Compare the scene in Netflix’s Call My Agent! in which Camille Cottin’s Andrea Martel prepares for her love’s arrival by creating an immaculate no-makeup look to make it look like she rolled out of bed like a goddess.

Look out for the Vogue YouTube videos of It girls Camille Rowe and Jeanne Damas, if you don’t believe me.

Or check out makeup artist Ali Andreea who demonstrates the bitten mouth trend. All are obsessed with so-called “imperfections”, opting for a concealer rather than a base; unfilled eyebrows; and dewy, rather than powdery, skin.

Tremendous effort is put into concocting a supposedly natural look — Rowe even adds faux sunburn to her scrupulously SPF complexion, then uses a baseball cap to style her wet hair. The ultimate compliment is that others assume you haven’t done anything.

Hannah (pictured) says understated grooming is as much a part of the Parisian uniform as the big coat/trainer/chic bag formula featured on the Parisians in Paris Instagram account

Hannah (pictured) says understated grooming is as much a part of the Parisian uniform as the big coat/trainer/chic bag formula featured on the Parisians in Paris Instagram account

At first, I toned down my trademark wildly over-the-top pink blush in favor of a more neutral creamy red like & Other Stories Cheek & Lip Tint in Swayback Plum (£8, stories.com). I put away Zara’s Ace (£11.99, zara.com), the excellent matte Schiaparelli pink lipstick I arrived in, and replaced it with Zara’s Chubby Stick Intense Hydrating Lip Balm. Clinique in Voluptuous Purple (£18.50, Clinique.co.uk).

And I bought my beloved Klorane Daily Oat Milk Dry Shampoo (£9.99, boots.com) in bulk for a relaxing touch. Not only does it soothe any traces of loose roots, it also adds texture, especially for natural curls. At cocktail hour, I rolled out a darker, albeit suitably ‘bitten’ lipstick: my trusty Matte Revolution in Charlotte Tilbury’s Festival Magic (£26, charlottetilbury.com).

But I was the only one. Even at night, French women slap furtively.

After a few days, I organized a roast beef revolution. All that scrupulous good taste seemed dull, dull – metaphorically and literally colorless.

I want life to be joyful, not correct; being amused, not complacent, and creative rather than conformist. My feelings were confirmed by a visit to the Byredo counter at Galeries Lafayette.

The perfumer has a line of cosmetics created with the British make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench, queen of the spectacular.

The signature product is the Color Stick: 22 richly pigmented multi-use pencils, in shades ranging from soft coral and electric blue to satsuma and iridescent khaki. The goal: to avoid anything remotely conventional and liberate playful and expressive color.

I inquired about what shades were selling, and the lovely guy on the counter pointed to the closest approximation to beige.

To make him – and I – feel better, I invested in Purple Stinger (£28, selfridges.com), a blue-lilac that works as a cute contour, eye tint, blush and eye shadow. lips, and an incredibly awesome lipstick called China Plum (£37).

I followed that up with equally explosive trips to beauty boutique Sephora and budget beauty supplier Hema, and, reader, I have no regrets.

RACE

Guerlain’s annual limited-edition Aqua Allegorias have been bringing us new nature games since 1999. This year’s iteration – Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Nerolia Vetiver (£83 CAD for 75ml, guerlain.com) – is a radiant cocktail of vetiver , neroli, basil and fig. The range is now also refillable. Catch it while you can – it’s an instant hit.

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MY INCON OF THE WEEK

HELENA CHRISTENSEN

Helena Christensen, 53 (pictured) uses Lumity Nutrient Rich Skin Savior 4-in-1 cleanser (£60, johnlewis.com) as a makeup remover, exfoliator and mask

Helena Christensen, 53 (pictured) uses Lumity Nutrient Rich Skin Savior 4-in-1 cleanser (£60, johnlewis.com) as a makeup remover, exfoliator and mask

The model, 53, is diligent about drinking water and applying serums and oils daily. She swears by Nimue Skin Technology’s Age Intelligent range (from £60, esseandco.com) and uses Lumity Nutrient Rich Skin Savior 4-in-1 cleanser (£60, johnlewis.com) as a makeup remover, exfoliator and masker .

FIVE SHOTS OF HOT HAIR

Hot rolls are huge on TikTok, building bomb volume.

nickyclarke.com

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Cupuaçu butter – lighter than shea, but more nourishing – is the latest innovation for afro hair.

escentual.com

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These pretty pink hair ties are so popular they’re already sold out at John Lewis.

net-a-porter.com

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Banish greasy morning roots while leaving your hair smelling soothing with vetiver and patchouli.

boots.com

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For those who long to add a little Elasticizer to their routine right away.

From May 1, philipkingsley.co.uk

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COSMETIC DESIRE

Margo Marrone’s The Organic Pharmacy, established in 2002, is a huge UK success story – its products are stocked in over 40 countries.

Her Carrot Butter Cleanser (£43, theorganicpharmacy.com) has been her top seller for 20 years. It will now be available as an eco-refill made from post-consumer packaging instead of plastic (£39). But dispel any notion of hemp and hair shirts.

This golden porridge is beautifully glamorous, scented with rosemary, lavender and calendula and clinically proven to prevent free radical damage. Kylie Minogue, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins and Gwyneth Paltrow are fans.

theorganicpharmacy.com

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