Ah, the enigmatic French woman. As South Korea is to skincare and as Italy is to pasta, France is to leisurely chicness—and that doesn't just apply to fashion. With makeup too, French women have a certain way of getting the most sultry, effortless elegance out of the fewest products (unlike the average American makeup routine involving full-coverage foundation, powder, highlighter, liquid liner, false lashes, the works).
Just in time for Valentine's Day, we were curious how French women do date-night makeup, so we reached out to one of our favorite French makeup artists, Carole Colombani, and asked her to name the five to 10 date-night makeup products French girls love to use. Her first response: "Ten makeup products is already a lot for a French girl, even for a date night! Five or six would be more realistic for us."
Keep scrolling to shop the ultimate French-girl guide to date-night makeup.
"We like makeup to be easy," says Colombani of her fellow French women. That means multi-use palettes are key. Colombani recommends la Palette Essentielle de Chanel. "First a bit of concealing on areas like under-eyes, forehead, and chin, and then blush and highlighting—and everything with the fingertips; it's more intuitive," she says. "Leave the rest of the face bare, breathable."
Foundation isn't typically a step in the French girl date-night regimen, but on days when breakouts and redness show up to the party, they'll make an exception. The French foundation vibe is to choose a product that leaves a natural, radiant finish, applied with the fingers. Laura Mercier's Flawless Lumiere foundation is one of Colombani's favorites—it offers "nice coverage but not too heavy," she says. "Too much perfection and control are not sexy for the French!"
"Then, either we will focus on lips or eyes," says Colombani. "For a date, mostly eyes, because lips need to be free to kiss. We like our eyes to be sensual but not overdone."
To achieve this effect, you'll need a dark brown kohl eye pencil, a single eye shadow color, and "of course plenty of black mascara," says Colombani. Line your upper and lower lash lines with the pencil and then use either a fine eye shadow brush or the tip f your finger to smudge it out.
"Sometimes we'll skip shadow and just go with pencil and mascara," says Colombani. But, for a special occasion, a subtle layer of neutral eye shadow doesn't hurt. "We apply a beige shadow—matte or shimmer depending how we feel—so it's better to have a palette with a bit of everything to choose at the last moment depending on mood," says Colombani, who recommends Dior's Backstage Eyeshadow Palette in Warm.
Next: brows. "We never forget eyebrows," says Colombani. "We love them generous too and not too over defined, so for us, Glossier Boy brow is the answer—an all-in-one, fill-and-fix product."
A darker eye calls for a pinkish-nude lip. Colombani recommends first hydrating the lips with a balm and dabbing the excess moisture with a tissue. "Then tap a beautiful nude matte long-lasting lipstick with the fingers to tint the lips and make them sensual, but still allowing you to talk, drink, eat, and kiss without thinking of any touch-ups!" she says. Armani's Matte lipstick in shade 500 is one of Colombani's go-to's.