10 French Beauty Tips From Clémence von Mueffling’s New Book
A swipe of red lipstick. A coat of black mascara. There are plenty of ways to apply makeup, and beauty pro Clémence von Mueffling is offering her take—along with skincare and lifestyle advice from experts—in her new book Ageless Beauty the French Way (St. Martin’s Press).
When we meet at the Plaza’s Champagne Bar, von Mueffling is dressed in a white top, jeans and heels, carrying elegance in a way that seems so effortless. What’s the secret? In her book, the New Yorker by way of Paris shares the personal tips she’s picked up from her mother Lorraine Bolloré, and grandmother Régine Debrise, both former beauty editors at French Vogue.
Von Mueffling, a mother of seven-year-old twins (a girl and a boy), held marketing roles at Clarins, Puig and Dior before venturing into journalism at Casas & Gente magazine. In 2014, she launched the website, Beauty and Well-being, which she currently runs. The book brings together her years of experience in the field—read through and you’ll find insight that serves as a guide for women of every age category, Jeunesse, 20-35, Plénitude, 35-55, and Maturité, 55 and up.
What would be the most rewarding outcome, she says, is if every reader feels they can use two or three pieces of advice in their daily or weekly routine. “I think there’s a little something for everyone,” she tells AVENUE. “Maybe one person will learn how to take better care of their scalp, which affects hair health, and someone else might learn more about compression socks and the benefits it has on leg circulation.” Here, we rounded up some highlights from the book, which is launching on June 12.
Embrace the Imperfect Right off the bat, von Mueffling lets you in on a secret. Perhaps you heard of it before: Beauty is not about perfection. For the most part, French women believe in a mix of dedication and laisser aller, which means letting go. Of course, it’s important to take care of your skin, but it doesn’t have to be flawless, especially if that means giving up indulgences. Have your chocolate croissant and eat it too!
Always Double-Cleanse Your Face
“I was once told [by holistic facialist Isabelle Bellis] that you have to think of your skin as your favorite silk blouse,” says von Mueffling. “Would you do any harsh treatments like dermabrasion to remove a stain?” Probably not, because it’s delicate. She emphasizes the importance of double cleansing your face every night to remove impurities and shares her regimen of first using a cleansing oil, then a cleansing milk after rinsing. After, she applies toner with a cotton pad and finishes with a spritz of thermal spring water.
There’s no stopping the natural aging process of skin, but there are ways to help it happen gracefully. Hydration is key. Von Mueffling breaks down how to choose a moisturizer to help retain water in skin structure (with recommendations on favorite French brands) to using serum-infused sheet masks. Plus, a humidifier in your home can also boost skin health.
Pack An In-Flight Beauty Kit
When von Mueffling started writing the book two years ago, she flew back and forth to Paris to do interviews. Every time, she would pack travel-sized essentials, from lip balms to herbal teas. She brings her makeup too, but applies right before arriving instead of before or during the middle of the flight. According to Bellis, it’s best to travel makeup-free as airplane cabins can be very drying.
Do a Regular Facial Massage
There’s a long list of reasons why facial massages are a way of life in France: they’re non-invasive, simple to do, stimulate circulation and awakens the complexion. From page 92 to 95, there’s a step-by-step guide, along with illustrations, on how to do it yourself.
Take a Beauty Lesson
Bolloré shared a memory from years ago when a friend recommended that she see a makeup artist. The best way to find the right one is to ask around or visit beauty counters at department stores. “Experts will know how to use and blend colors for your specific skin tone,” she notes. “This is an art and not something that most of us are good at. So they can really help you.”
Don’t Forget Your Décolleté
Although often overlooked, your décolleté needs some TLC, too. The skin right under your neck is thinner and has fewer oil glands than other parts of the body, which means it’s more prone to dryness and wrinkles. Take precaution and regularly apply sunscreen as you would on your face.
Take It Easy on Your Hair
Hair that’s a bit messy and undone and is the ultimate French beauty signature. Follow the less is more approach. “I always think that overdoing it is a common mistake that women make; overcoloring, overcutting, overstyling,” says celebrity hairstylist David Mallett. “I really like the look that it is easy—like you haven’t made an effort even if, of course you have!” Try a high or low ponytail, French twist or let your hair down au naturel.
Practice Good Posture
One of von Mueffling’s four pillars of French wellness is to practice good posture, especially in today’s digital world. Walking with heads down and staring at phones or sitting at office desks for hours on end can ultimately lead to body aches. As quoted in the book from yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, “Alignment is enlightenment.”
Experiment With Different Perfumes
For Christmas every year, von Mueffling and her sister would be gifted a bottle of perfume from Debrise. She learned from her that scent, like a little black dress, can make you feel beautiful and it can also trigger memories. “Perfumery is all about chemistry,” notes Nicolas Cloutier, co-founder of Nose fragrance. Experiment with different samples and take time to smell each properly. “Sometimes, however, you are going to smell a perfume and you’ll have a spontaneous response; you’ll just know. Keep an open mind and you might surprise yourself.”