I Tried 8 French Makeup Products That Constantly Sell Out—and Now I Know Why


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

Welcome to The Great Beauty Try-On, where we seized the opportunity to test-drive the best-selling makeup products from some of your favorite beauty brands (plus some newcomers!) and documented the process along the way.


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

While celebrity beauty brands are a dime a dozen (and typically leave me feeling pretty meh) the same cannot be said when an industry artist creates their own line. These are the people who work with and rely on products as part of their livelihood, so their tolerance for anything even remotely subpar is squat. Quite honestly, I don't think I've every tried a makeup artist–, dermatologist-, facialist-, or hairstylist-created brand that has ever disappointed me.

Suffice to say, when iconic French makeup artist Violette launched her eponymous beauty line, Violette_FR, in early 2021, my makeup- and beauty-loving heart went all aflutter. I immediately fell in love with the easy-breezy, quintessentially French aesthetic of the product family—i.e., the ultimate matte red lipstick, a highlighter that looks like skin (not sparkle), and French pharmacy–inspired skincare—and while there has been a satisfyingly low number of additions to the clan since (nothing makes me more suspicious than a beauty brand that expands at an exponential rate), every single new product has risen to the occasion with the same amount of gusto as the products before it.

Below, I'm sharing my honest thoughts on all of my favorites—aka, the products I recommend with my heart because I know you'll love them just as much as I do. Keep scrolling for my looks and reviews.

The Finished Look Wearing Bisou Balm in Guimauve


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

Even though I knew the stars of this show would be the Yeux Paints in Ciel de Nuit and Scarabée d'Or and the Petal Bouche Matte in Cœur Infidèle (read: the spicy bright-pink situation happening on my lips a little further down), I am so obsessed with Violette_FR's Bisou Balm in this particular shade—Guimauve—I had to include it as a pared-down, perhaps more *daytime* version of my final look. As you can see, it gives your lips the perfect mini injection of color that's somehow completely not obvious. These balms are pigmented (just enough!) but so light and comfortable they basically allow you to play chameleon with your natural lip color. 

The Finished Look Wearing Petal Bouche Matte in Cœur Infidèle


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

I'll talk about this more later, but I'm not really a maximalist makeup person. Most days, you'll just catch me in a balmy-berry lip, a flash of rosy blush, lots of dew and glow, and a few coats of mascara. Done and done! Alas, I'm a makeup girl at heart, so when the occasion presents itself, I'll go for the glitter and bold colors like a mad scientist. And really, this juicy pink lip hits the damn spot. Don't sleep on Petal Bouche Matte in Cœur Infidèle—it's a best seller for a reason (despite it being one of the newer formulas within the Violette_FR portfolio) and looks indulgent and delicious in the best way possible. It's what holiday makeup dreams are made of. 

The Products

Technically, this milky serum spray is skincare and not makeup, but trust me when I say your makeup won't lie/look the same if you go without it. Therefore, I consider it just as much of a makeup staple within the Violette_FR family as the color cosmetics. I love a multitasking beauty product, and this innovative, French pharmacy–inspired formula wraps your toner, serum, and moisturizer into one easy-to-spritz bottle. It's intensely hydrating without feeling heavy, and the key ingredients like probiotic-rich fermented birch sap, glacier water, and olive leaf extract simultaneously soothe, smooth, and firm the skin. In other words, it basically transforms your complexion into the optimal canvas for makeup application. (That said, this stuff makes your skin look so healthy it will become a staple for no-makeup moments too.)

Again, your makeup will only look as good as your skin prep allows it to (ask any celebrity makeup artist), so yet again, I'm including another skincare staple via the brand's C'est la Cream. To be frank, it almost feels criminal that this is one of the best face creams I've tried (even compared to formulas four times the price), yet it comes in at less than $100. I'll take it!

Designed to support and heal the delicate skin barrier, it's rich yet somehow lightweight, and I love that I truly feel like I'm feeding my thirsty skin with everything it's craving as I massage it in. Most of the time, these types of products turn my skin into an oil slick by the end of the day (buh-bye, makeup), but this one managed to keep my skin perfectly balanced even though I also layered it on top of the Boum-Boum Milk (which is hydrating enough to serve as your one and only moisturizer). Most days, I would stick to the Boum-Boum Milk, alone—just being honest—but during the winter, or when I'm visiting my family in dry-AF Arizona, you can bet this will be a beloved addition to my tool kit. 

I used to be a powder highlighter girl through and through, but in the last couple of years, I've 99% converted to balmy highlight sticks instead. They naturally make your skin look so ethereal and yummy, and this one has been my all-time fave ever since the brand's initial launch. This one makes you gleam versus sparkle, and I go ham by literally smothering it under and above my collarbones, right on my Cupid's bow, around my brow bones, down the bridge of my nose, and on the highest points of my cheekbones. You can't OD on this stuff, and on days when I want to zhoosh my lips a little bit sans gloss, I'll pat it on top of my lips for a subtle veil of light-reflecting shimmer. According to the website, the formula has "mirror pigment,” which means it’s going to catch and reflect light without looking like actual makeup.

While some of the other products I tested have been around for a while, this blush stick had literally just launched pre-try, so I was itching to see if it lived up to the same—V high—standards of the rest of the collection.

For context, I've spent years trying to find the perfect creamy blush stick, and while some have come close, I think I've finally found the one. Functionally, I love that it's handily double-ended with a brush on one side (which is designed to be firm enough for blending but soft enough not to mess up any makeup you might be wearing underneath), but formulaically, it's magic. Yes, it melts and blends into your skin like a dream, but what truly sets it apart is the marbling. 

"When your cheeks naturally flush, it’s not just one even color—it’s multidimensional, so your blush should be too," the brand's website explains. "That’s why Bisou Blush couples marbled pigments—one that’s sheer and balmy, and another more vibrant hue—that deliver a subtle, true-to-life radiance. After blending with the attached brush, your cheeks are left with layers of transparent color and no perceptible lines or transitions." I'm wearing Inès, the perfect flushy pink, but I can't wait to experiment with the other two shades as well.

I never used to gravitate toward blue eye shadows and liners, until I realized I actually love the way they make my blue eyes pop—a somewhat controversial take since people generally say that colors on the opposite side of the color wheel will be the most flattering. Anywho, I was excited when I learned that Ciel de Nuit (the perfect stormy navy) was the brand's best seller. Obviously, I tried it, and let me tell you it's PERFECT. Even though I'm pretty good at applying makeup at this point, and liner has become my forte, I still get intimidated by any product that looks complicated or easy to flub. However, this one is freakishly easy to use and maneuver.

To get my technique on point, I watched Violette's IG tutorial here and was so painless, fast, and easy! The pigment payoff is next level, and I only needed one or two swipes to get it to the saturation of my liking. I love that the doe-foot applicator has a thicker flat side (great if you want thick eyeliner or are doing shadow), but the applicator's side is nice and thin if you want something more precise. I used that thin side to make the wing, and then I took a small liner brush to extend my wing out even farther to make it look less blocky. If you want to be able to apply your makeup in the morning without having to worry about it or look at it for the rest of the day, you'll love this. 


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

I rarely—if ever—create a matte eye look. Even if it's subtle, which it usually is, I need sparkle! Pizzazz! So I couldn't leave well enough alone, and I had to top my navy blue liner handiwork with the twinkly formula in Scarabée d'Or, too. The greeny-gold provides some light-catching contrast to the dark blue, which I'm very into—it's the holiday season, after all!

I'd been trying to get my hands on this particular hue of the Bisou Balm for months and months, and it was always, always, always out of stock. I've collected all four hues at this point, and while they have all become prized possessions within my lip wardrobe, this shade, in particular, has lived up to all of the hype I created in my head. It's the ultimate thing to reach for when you want to resurrect your lips without really looking like you're wearing anything. Does it get more French than that?

"Bisou Balm has been a longtime dream of mine, because, well, I’m French," Violette explains on the brand's website. "In France, after red lipstick, our favorite lip look is called bouche mordue or 'just-bitten lips.' The DIY way to do it is to apply lip balm and add a touch of lipstick—creating a subtle flush of color that looks fresh and natural." Let me tell you—this product captures the aesthetic perfectly with just one swipe.

Last but certainly not least! I could not wait to try this matte liquid lipstick in Cœur Infidèle—the best bright pink you'll ever lay on your lips—since I've been a longtime fan of Amour Fou, the OG red hue. I used to be all about a retro, Old Hollywood glamour aesthetic—i.e., bold lip colors like pink, red, and coral—but in the last couple of years, there's been a shift, and I gravitate toward low-maintenance berry and rose hues closer to my natural lip color.

That said, if you want to invest in one classic matte lipstick to wear until the end of time, let it be this one (and maybe Amour Fou, too). It's perfect. Like, truly perfect. It's plush and sinks easily into your lips so you're not left with any weird streaks or stripes. It dries down quickly, but you still have enough fudge time to tap and blend if you want a more diffused, blotted look. Plus, thanks to the perfectly sized doe-foot, a precise application is surprisingly easy, even if you don't have a steady hand. (For context, I accomplished this look severely caffeinated.) It can be a little drying (as most matte lippies are), but it's definitely not the most Sahara-inclined matte lipstick I've tried, and by prepping my lips with a mask beforehand, my lips didn't get chapped or thirsty looking as the day wore on.

Next: Our Friends Always Hit Us Up for Product Recs—12 No-BS Beauty Brands to Try RN

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.