On a rainy fall evening in the Lower East Side, Isabel Marant takes a seat on a lush brown leather bench inside a small, low-lit French restaurant and orders a cappuccino.
Not only is the Paris-based designer clad in clothes entirely of her own design—a boxy baseball-style navy jacket, skinny leather pants, and ivory pointed-toe ballet flats—but she is also wearing makeup entirely of her own making: Her lips are finger-pressed with a rosy nude gloss, her lashes are curled, and her brows are brushed up with an imperceptible translucent mascara, each from her new five-piece color collaboration with L’Oréal Paris, which also includes creamy matte lipstick, sooty eyeshadows, and a universal pinky-peach highlighter. “French girls pretend they’re not paying attention to the way they look, but they are—a lot,” she explains with a laugh. And while the no-nonsense essentials she keeps in her own makeup bag are an important part of the equation, Marant underscores it’s the 360-degree approach to how she looks that makes la Parisienne, la Parisienne.
From striking the right eye-lip balance to prioritizing mindful exercise, here, Marant breaks down her definitive French beauty rules.
When it comes to makeup, it’s all about the right balance.
I love lipstick, especially a bright red with a big smile—it’s the best way to lift your mood and brighten your entire face if your skin isn’t in the greatest condition. [Earthy] eyeshadows are amazing, too, especially in the summertime when you have a tan. Just smudge on a gypsy-ish chocolate on the lids. But for me, it’s either eyes or the lips—never both. [Otherwise,] it’s too much makeup.
Let your hair down and embrace imperfection.
When you go to do your hair, undo it a little bit so it doesn’t look too perfect. French women work a lot with the imperfection. And that’s the difference between us and American women. It’s a more easygoing way. I don’t even go to the hairdresser anymore; I just flip my head over, grab [the ends of] my hair, and cut it. [Laughs]
Eat with joy and integrity.
Beauty starts from the inside out. If you take good care of yourself, then all you need is a great lipstick or blush. You don’t need a lot of makeup when the base is good. For me, it starts with cooking—though not too much [laughs]—and taking pleasure in what I eat. It’s the simple things, really, like a salad with fresh vegetables, good olive oil, a nice vinaigrette with lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. You don’t need to spend so much on skin care. Put your money toward eating the right food. I also love drinking carrot juice. The vitamins are excellent for your tan—you don’t even need to spend time in the sun.
Turn spa days and sage oil into a Saturday ritual.
I never get facials or go to the spa—I don’t have time and I hate when people touch me. [Laughs] What I do is every Saturday morning, I have my own spa in my bath for a half an hour. I put on my son’s playlist with a lot of American trap music; I love the beat. Then, I put a drop of lavender in the bath and scrub my entire body with soap and a mitt. I also love to massage my feet and if I need more energy, I put sage oil on the soles. I also do my nails and eyebrows at the same time. I do it myself because I don’t trust anyone else.
Make exercise a meditative ritual.
I’ve got a very stressful life, and for me, the best way to [decompress] is to swim. I’d been doing a lot of yoga, but I was tired of having someone always speaking to me. I love swimming because I can actually listen to my inner voice. I try to swim every morning for a half an hour. It’s completely meditative, this time I have for me alone, trying to forget all my stress and just concentrate on breathing and cleansing my cells.
Age gracefully—and gratefully.
I don’t dye my hair. I’ve got gray hair. I mean, that’s life. You’ve got to know that you’re not going to be young forever. You have to embrace where you’re at. Smile, be happy, and take what life gives you. Concentrate on the good parts, and don’t think too much about the bad. Plastic surgery? I would never do that. But I have a position on it: Take away, but never add. When you plump things up, it’s very obvious.
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This article first appeared on Vogue.com