Before I became a Kbeauty fan, I was (and am still,I admit) a Francophile! LOL. I think this stereotype that the French know something when it comes to beauty and skincare is nothing new. I guess the book French Women don’t get Fat made this notion even more prevalent and entrenched in our minds. I actually read that book by Mireille Guiliano and enjoyed it. And for awhile I was consciously applying the lifestyle principles advocated in the book. Like savouring one’s meal and taking pleasure in walking everyday as part of an active life style. So yeah, like many other ladies I am also drawn to French secrets and approach to beauty and skin care. They just seem to have that effortless flair of looking good without overdoing it. And I think it’s from them that I have come to learn to emphasise skincare first before makeup, which the Koreans advocate as well. But of course, Koreans are also very into their makeup, albeit they prefer a toned down version from their western counterparts. But generally, I do find some similarities across Korean approach to beauty and French approach to Beauty. Primarily, in their emphasis on skin care and importance placed on self care.
However, there are two areas where I feel Korean and French Beauty attitude and disposition differs and the book by Mathilde Thomas (founder of French Brand Caudalie) also helps to reinforce my conclusion based on its unpacking of French ways of looking and feeling beautiful.
1.Pleasure Principle- Mathilde Thomas emphasises that the French are unapologetic pleasure seekers and this applies to their approach to beauty as well. They do not believe in the mantra of No pain No gain and choose to believe life and the pursuit of beauty and well being should be linked to things that bring pleasure. Self care and taking care of one’s appearance is hence linked to one’s ability to feel good. The slathering of creams/lotions and the facials and massages that the French indulge in are hence all about enjoyment for the mind and body.
I am sure the Koreans also find pleasure in their beauty rituals but they also do not hesitate to put up with extreme discomfort and even pain at times to look beautiful. Just think about the less then relaxing experiences in the very practical Korean Spas. They are not like their western counterparts at all! Scrubbing in Korean Spas are merciless and intense in the hope of sloughing off dead skin to reveal baby smooth skin! It can get painful! And of course, lets not also forget about the Koreans propensity to resort to plastic surgery to reach their ideal aesthetics. I am sure the French also do their fair share of plastic surgery but pretty much their approach to beauty and their beauty rituals are not as hard core as the Koreans. This is pretty much the reason why French Women Don’t Get Fat also recommends portion control and walking as alternatives to diets and gym as the latter are just not fun to the pleasure seeking French:)
2. Embracing diversity/quirks- This is a another area where the French and Koreans deviate I feel. The French approach to beauty is to embrace what nature has blessed you with, including your imperfections. I mean just look at some of the French Beauty Icons. They usually have a quirk that has come to distinguish them and even celebrated by others. far set eyes or perhaps a gap in the front pair of teeth or even freckles. To the French, all these can be considered beautiful. I guess this is why the French are also not too into makeup as they do not believe in masking imperfections. The iconic Red Lip are more of a statement of personality and assertion and even an accessory to further enhance the appeal of a women’s allure. Just look at Carine Roitfeld, the ex editor in chief for Vogue Paris. She is hailed as a very fashionable woman but she obviously does not care to hide her wrinkles or even mask signs of age around her face! But yet, something about her is just very attractive without trying too hard. Very french.
The Koreans on the other hand, in my opinion can have very exacting standards of beauty, to the point that any deviations can actually be considered unattractive! I suppose it is this mentality that makes Korea the no 1 country for plastic surgery in the world. There, even young women put themselves under the knife to get features to conform to a certain beauty ideal rather than the more prevalent culture in western countries where older women resort to surgery to reverse the effects of ageing. Another more moderate example would be the inclination towards white/fair skin as this is considered the beauty ideal in Korea. So, if you are tan it would be pretty difficult to get a base shade. As the picture of the Korean Actress below illustrate, Koreans like to have fair translucent skin, big eyes (preferably with double eyelid and with the aegyo sal- the little fat deposit under the eye which apparently gives the eyes a ‘smiling look’, yup they are into such things;)) , a small face and full rose bud lips.
Interestingly, the French and Koreans alike are huge advocates of the Sun Screen! And frankly some of the best sunscreen offerings in the market actually come from French and Korean brands! Yet,the difference is in the reason for the emphasis on sunscreen- for the French it is to protect against photo-aging and skin damage and for the Koreans, it is the same with the added emphasis on staying white and fair;)
Anyway, if you’d like to read more on the French approach to beauty, which I prefer as I find it a little more liberating, I do recommend the The French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas. Be warned however that this book may also tempt you to pick up an item or two from the Caudalie line as no surprise that she adds some indirect marketing of her products in her book. But she pretty much also shares her own approach to beauty and lifestyle which she promises to be a faithful representation of French women in general:)
Apologies for my rambling:) As much as I am an avid beauty consumer, at times I also like to take a back seat to observe the trends and culture with a critical eye. It’s important to be aware of the ‘invisible hand’ behind marketing and hype surrounding beauty trends and culture. And if we still choose to indulge in it, at least we are making an informed choice!:)
Thanks for dropping in.