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Parisian Stylist Reveals How the French Get Their Effortlessly Perfect Tousled Hair

Ariel Bailey
By: Chief Beauty Advisor  |  Ariel Bailey

Ah, French women – the envy of normal women everywhere. They get to eat decadent, delicious food on a daily basis and stay enviously skinny. Having a glass of red wine in hand is as common as breathing. They speak the language of love in the country of love 24/7. And they are the absolute queens of tousled, effortless beauty…or so they would have us believe.

As it turns out, the effortless French tousled look isn’t as effortless as it seems. There’s a pretty substantial amount of work that goes into that vivacious French vixen style. Down below, we’ll dish on all of their secrets and teach you how to get this look for yourself. But be forewarned: if you’re here trying to achieve a style that both looks and is effortless, you’re probably in the wrong spot.

In this article:

  1. Getting to the Root of This Style: Washing Your Hair Like the French Do
  2. Styling the Perfect French Coiff
  3. Keeping Your Color as Natural as Possible

Getting to the Root of This Style: Washing Your Hair Like the French Do

If you really want that French style, forget everything you know about brushing, washing, conditioning, and otherwise taking good care of your hair. French women and stylists have a very different way of doing things that puts American women to shame. It may take some time to adjust to a new routine, but if you can successfully pull it off, you can get that flawless, tousled look!

An All-New Way to Wash Your Hair

If there’s one thing both French and American stylists can agree on, it’s that you should brush your hair every single time before you take a shower. Hair is more fragile and more likely to break when it is wet, so save yourself the plumbing bill and keep most of it out of the drain by brushing it out first.

But don’t use just any old brush. The French passionately prefer boar bristle brushes. They say the boar bristle hairs closely mimic human hair texture and are less likely to strip your shaft of natural oils. The higher-quality ones will cost you at least a Benjamin, but there are cheaper ones out there. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to find a real boar bristle hair brush for less than $50.

French women don’t use nearly as much as shampoo as American women do. When they get in the shower, they get their hair just wet enough to work up a lather and squeeze about a quarter-sized dollop into their hand. Then they work it through at the root, staying as close to their scalp as humanly possible. French women never apply shampoo to the shaft for the ends of their hair – it’s way too drying.

When the directions say “massage into your scalp”, take them seriously! Really give yourself a few minutes of shower time to work it into your scalp and rub those magic fingers of yours all over your head. 3-5 Minutes should be sufficient to generate blood flow and stimulate your hair follicles. Plus, overtime, you’ll improve your upper body strength and endurance from all that massaging.

Condition Selectively to Avoid Buildup

Hats also can encourage buildup, so if you wear them often, be sure to cleanse your scalp!

You’re going to want to apply your conditioner the opposite way you do your shampoo: stick to the ends in the middle of your hair shaft. Try not to let your conditioner touch your scalp at all. It can cause build up, which hinders follicle growth. Unless you’re using some sort of special, deep conditioning treatment, you only need to leave your conditioner on for a few minutes. Anything longer is just an excuse to spend more time in a warm, steamy shower.

Both with the shampooing and conditioning steps, make sure you give your hair a good rinse each time. You should rinse your shampoo and conditioner up to five minutes each.

You want to make sure you get all of the product out of your strands; leaving anything behind will leave hair looking dull, oily, and wear your hair down faster than you can say “mauvais jour de cheveux“.

Practicing Your Hair Care Routine Outside of the Shower

Once you get this routine down, you’ll need to start cutting back on how frequently you wash your hair. Most French stylists agree that twice a week should be enough.

Obviously, there are exceptions to this.

Sweating frequently, for example, will increase the number of times you need to wash your hair each week. You’ll have to do some experimenting in order to figure out that magic number of weekly washes.

Bodybuilders like to say that carefully crafting an Adonis body starts in the kitchen. As it turns out, Parisian hairdressers and bodybuilders have something in common. They both agree that the source of a good aesthetic comes from your dinner plate. Hair-healthy foods that should be in your diet include:

Hair health starts with taking care of overall health.
  • Fatty fish, nuts, and other foods high in Omega-3
  • Red meat, whole grains, nuts, and legumes for their zinc and iron content
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of hair-happy vitamins
  • Don’t forget your leafy greens and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc)!
  • Full-fat, high protein dairy like Greek yogurt or creme fraiche

Furthermore, detoxification is key. Eating healthier, pro-liver foods is a good start (the liver is, after all, the detox powerhouse of the human body).

You’ll also need to detox your scalp on a regular basis. Now bear with us, because we’re going to suggest something that may seem a little out there: sea salt scalp scrubs!

Scrubs do an extra thorough job of cleaning the gunk out of your follicles and stripping away shaft-destroying dirt and oil. If the sea salt granules are too large or abrasive, you can look for formulas that are less course. Make sure your hair is damp but not dripping wet when you apply a scrub. Massage it is the same way you would your shampoo, rest for a minute, add a little more water, and lather, rinse, repeat.

Styling the Perfect French Coiff

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about the perfect messy bun.

Many French stylists recommend that women get their hair blown out once a week at a professional salon. Other than that, the less often you blow dry your own hair, the better. This helps reduce the heat damage that takes your tousled tresses from Parisian sexy to fried and frizzy.

Also, lay off the flat iron. French culture appreciates the natural bounce, volume, and vivacity from air-dried or blown out hair. In the eyes of the French, a slick-straight flatiron look is boring and dull.

As horrifying as it may sound, French women frequently go to bed with damp hair. If you put it up in a high bun and let it dry overnight, you’ll wake up the next morning with a natural wave and curl that’ll make people turn their heads. Plus, you get to tell people that you just woke up like this – and all the bragging rights that go with it.

French women are the pioneers and masters of the messy bun. For those days when your hair just isn’t cooperating no matter how hard you try, the messy bun is the go-to Parisian look. Not only is it an easy style to pull together, but it’s the perfect way to turn a bad hair day into a tres bon hair day.

Experiment with lip color, not hair color, if you’re going for a French look.

Keeping Your Color as Natural as Possible

The perfect French hair is meant to look as natural and effortless as possible. As such, unnatural hair color is right out. Whatever highlights you put in should be so close to your natural color that they blend in seamlessly while still creating a dynamic, vibrant look. Many French women refuse to dye their hair at all unless they’re trying to cover up their greys.

Technique is also very important when it comes to coloring your hair.

Thick, chunky highlights are a big no-no for the French. Ombre and balayage are pretty much your only choices for tousled, French locks. But the vast majority of women will choose a balayage look if they do color.

Balayage coloring uses a different type of bleach than traditional hair processing, and it doesn’t use foil at all. This causes much less damage to the hair (are you noticing a theme yet?), Which helps maintain that natural but effortless-looking aesthetic that the French women are famous for.

Of course, if you have the money, you could hop on a plane and move to “gay Parìs” right now.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for most women. In the meantime, you’ll just have to settle for completely changing the way you wash your hair, brush your hair, style your hair, and color your hair. But doing all of that work will get you the perfect, effortless looking style that French women enjoy every day – so it’s worth it…right?

Ariel Bailey
Chief Beauty Advisor
Ariel was fed up with all the nonsense information out there. So, she has dedicated over 25 years and written 100's of articles to help millions of people be properly educated from products, to latest innovations, and to anything else beauty related.

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