How to Get Effortlessly Cool French-Girl Hair
In an interview with The Cut, David Mallett spills the secrets his clients—who include Carla Bruni and Charlotte Gainsbourg—swear by for that laissez-faire vibe, including their preferred methods of coloring, cutting, and styling (and a lot of times: not washing).
Their number-one doctrine of haircare? Keep it subdued. "French women are afraid of being tacky or vulgar," Mallett says. "It's about a beautiful extension of what they already are. It's a cerebral type of beauty."
And although it may look effortless, it's not: "They think about [their appearance] a lot, even though it can look quite accidental," says Mallett .
Want to rock a French-style 'do? Read on for 5 ways to style your locks as the Parisians do.
1. Skip your daily shampoo
"I’ll encounter women that haven’t washed it for 10 days," says Mallett. "At first, I was like 'Hmm, gross.' Then I suddenly started to realize that they never had dry scalp." Might we suggest one of these high ponytails for your second-day (or third- or 10th-day) hair?
2. Cut your hair less often
According to Mallett, French women get their hair cut about once every three months. "That's plenty," he tells The Cut.
3. When it comes to your cut and color, less is more
Mallett says you'll never see a French woman with excessive highlights. "Everything is an understated, sexy, undone look. It’s never like they tried too hard. When it comes to hair styling, the perfect recipe is self-control and not overdoing it. It’s natural but better. The cut is simple," he says. As far as coloring, "We spend hours coloring it to not look like color." Mallet advises trying a patina—a transparent color wash that makes the hue become more subtle and subdued—over your hair color, and opting for balayage highlights that are painted on the hair instead of foils.
4. Embrace a bit of messiness
"Nothing makes a woman look older than a stiff blow-dry," Mallet says. After a blow-out at the salon, French women will ask Mallet to ruffle it up. "Hair has to have life and movement. French women are connected to life," Mallet says. "When you blow-dry, leave a bit of bend, tie it up, and leave it out. Don’t over brush your hair, and finger comb bits of it instead."
5. Lose some layers
The French are not fans of a super-layered look. "When you over-layer, it misses thickness and fullness on the ends," says Mallet. "Keep the edges thick and thin out the hair slightly on the ends."
Originally posted June 14, 2016. Updated July 14, 2018.
Now that you've got your hair covered, we've got some beauty intel as well: Here are the seven biggest beauty myths—debunked. And if clear skin is what you're after, three products are a great place to start.
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