Parisians have long been viewed as paragons of natural beauty, so much so that the English term “effortless” has been co-opted into their cultural lexicon. Today, though, most locals know that the “I just rolled out of bed” look is often a ruse — one that takes plenty of time and money to perfect. Mussed-up hair is best achieved with the help of France’s top hairstylists, and barefaced, natural beauty is enhanced by stimulating facial massage and a long steam session in one of the city’s many hammams. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the city’s most sought-after beauty experts, brands and salons. Just make sure you book well in advance.
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Biologique Recherche’s Ambassade de la Beauté
The flagship of the cult French beauty brand Biologique Recherche, this lush spa just off the Champs-Élysées offers treatments that pamper and preen from head to toe. Loyal clients, however, return month after month for the clinical facials, prescribed after an in-depth diagnosis (which evaluates moisture levels, pigmentation, elasticity) in their Skin Instant Lab. Crowd favorites include the Remodeling Face treatment, which features a cocktail of serums derived from botanical active ingredients and stimulation with electric currents and high radio-frequency waves, and the Seconde Peau (second skin) treatment, an electro spun mask supercharged with 80-percent hyaluronic acid, which will leave you looking as fresh-faced and dewy as a supermodel. 32 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008, ambassadedelabeaute.fr.
This newish spa is worth a visit, not just for its cleverly tailored treatments — like the anti-stress facial — but for its committed approach to utter serenity. Far from clinical, the waiting lounge feels like a private salon, complete with a Dimore Studio light fixture and India Mahdavi sofa, and the treatments are carried out with the greatest consideration: You can curate everything from the fragrance of the candle burning in your cabin to the soundtrack playing on the speakers. 5 Avenue de Friedland, 75008, sisley-paris.com.
The London-based French facialist Sophie Carbonari commutes to Paris during fashion week as well as every other month to service her regular clients — including some of the biggest names and most flawless faces working in fashion. She sets up shop in the suites of boutique hotels or the private salons of the new Galeries Lafayette on the Champs-Élysées and offers bespoke facials that combine her own homemade oils and lotions with those of cult brands such as Augustinus Bader and In Fiore. Carbonari’s signature approach is centered on a lymphatic facial massage — what she calls a micro gland tissue stimulation — which she delivers with a masterful touch. In France, face pummeling is seen as the au naturel alternative to face-plumping fillers. For other renowned practitioners, look up Elaine Huntzinger and Joëlle Ciocco. skinbysophiecarbonari.com.
Martine de Richeville
Parisians are no longer as exercise shy as they have been in the past, but they still have a few sweat-free tricks up their sleeves. Lymphatic drainage via massage is a popular shortcut to staying trim, and the name to look up is Martine de Richeville, whose signature “remodelage” has garnered her devotees the world over. Just don’t expect the experience to be pleasant: The manual technique involves a sort of roll-and-release motion — akin to a deep tissue burn — that is purported to detoxify, reshape and obliterate even the most stubborn of cellulite. Of course, it works best if you book multiple sessions in the way that most things with a high price tag often do. 13 Boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 and 20 Avenue Bosquet, 75007, martinedericheville.com.
If you’re after a more relaxing experience, Paris’s hotel spa game is strong, and the Spa Valmont at Le Meurice is a favorite among visiting fashion editors. The Swiss skin-care brand specializes in anti-aging treatments, but this is also a tranquil space in which to enjoy a stimulating post-flight leg massage, body scrub or full-body mask derived from plant essences, volcanic earth or hibiscus flowers. 228 Rue de Rivoli, 75001, dorchestercollection.com.
Pampering in Paris need not break the bank, and one of the most democratic, if not authentic experiences, is a trip to the hammam. Set aside a few hours to sweat and steam out toxins and sign up for a rigorous full-body scrub, which will buff your tired skin anew. In Paris, there are options at both ends of the spectrum — from the more traditional Grand Mosquée (39 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 75005) with its multigenerational bathers catching up on gossip as they sprawl across the ornate tiles, to the chic steam room in the Charme d’Orient (18 Boulevard du Temple, 75011), on the edge of the Marais, which can be privatized for the more prudish among us.
The Australian import David Mallett has all but conquered the Paris scene — and he opened his first salon in New York at the Webster last year. His salon, located in a 17th-century hôtel particulier of Place des Victoire, is more like an elegant, private home outfitted with herringbone floors and antiques that Mallett found himself while trawling the city’s flea markets. If you’re already happy with your hairstyle and just want a reboot, try the caviar or the Tokio Inkarami conditioning treatment and finish with a “brushing” — the French term for a blow dry. 14 Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 75002, david-mallett.com.
The master colorist Christophe Robin is the man behind the career-defining hair colors of the ’90s supermodels — Stephanie Seymour’s chestnut brown, Claudia Schiffer’s icy blonde and Linda Evangelista’s numerous color changes, to name a few. His kitschy, boudoir-style salon — replete with red velvet curtains and bubble-gum-pink backwash chairs — in the buzzy neighborhood of Montorgueil, attracts a wide range of clientele, from buttoned-up bourgeois sexagenarians to fashion students. Robin and his team have a knack for creating natural-looking color and highlights that compliment a client’s skin tone and eye color; if you’re after a haircut, ask for Jean-Marc. 16 Rue Bachaumont, 75002, christopherobin.fr.
Unkempt hair that falls perfectly just so requires an exceptional cut. Enter Delphine Courteille, who has tended to the tresses of almost every iconic Frenchwoman, from Inès de la Fressange to Vanessa Paradis. Fit for the A-list, this spacious salon has an elegant retro feel with terrazzo floors, powder-pink walls, brass mirrors and green Pierre Paulin armchairs and poufs. If Delphine’s fees make you gulp, ask for her trusted second-in-command, Yoshi. 28 Rue du Mont-Thabor 75001, delphinecourteille.com.
Nose is stocked with an overwhelming selection of fragrances — over 700 at last count — but they also have the expertise and technology to guide you in making your choice. The custom Olfactory test is a software program developed with AI experts and perfumers that asks a series of questions to match you to your ideal scent, be that something from the French favorite Frédéric Malle or more under-the-radar discoveries from the Stockholm-based perfumer Stora Skuggan or the sacred-smelling scent Lavs by Filippo Sorcinelli, the Italian tailor favored by the Pope. 20 Rue Bachaumont, 75002, noseparis.com.
This boutique fragrance brand arrived in 2013, with a flagship store on Rue Saint Honoré decked out in International Klein Blue, with Carrera-marble bench tops and walnut shelving. Inspired by the innovative spirit of the French avant-garde — be that Art Deco motifs or the modern aesthetic of designers like Pierre Paulin — the three founders have created nine signature fragrances with the help of star noses from the Swiss tastemaker Givaudan. The best seller is a heady floral scent fittingly called Fleur Narcotique, and in the Paris store, such pillar fragrances can be personalized using the brand’s unique Osmalogue technology, which boosts or enhances certain existing ingredients to each client’s liking. A limited selection of perfume oils for the skin and hair mists, with added keratin, are also available in new scents. 352 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001, ex-nihilo-paris.com.
Also of note, another fragrance emporium rolls into town on Oct. 2: Dover Street Fragrance Market, the first of its kind, will open on 11 Bis Rue Elzévir, 75003, doverstreetparfumsmarket.com.
Nail salons are not as omnipresent in Paris as they are in the States, which means booking in advance is a must. A welcome exception to that rule is the eco-friendly Kure Bazaar nail bar in the historic Left Bank department store Le Bon Marché. Kure Bazaar’s nail polish and products are environmentally friendly and made up of 90 percent natural ingredients. If there is a wait, you have time to shop or have lunch at the Rose Bakery Tea Room on the second floor. Le Bon Marché, 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007, kurebazaar.com.
Oh My Cream
With multiple stores across Paris, Oh My Cream is the go-to boutique for the best natural beauty brands. Their roll call includes local names with a cultlike following such as Joëlle Ciocco and Hervé Herau, as well the makeup pioneer Kjaer Weis and longtime favorite Jane Iredale. Staff members are all trained beauty therapists, and in almost all of the Paris locations there is a “beauty cabin,” which offers manicures, pedicures, facials and makeup application. You can achieve the “Naturel” look in just 20 minutes, addressing any complexion concerns with cover-up and foundation, and a light touch to either eyes or lips. Multiple locations, ohmycream.com.
La Bouche Rouge
Thanks to iconic image-makers like Guy Bourdin, red lips have been part of a Parisian beauty routine since as far back as the mid-1950s. Even today, a lush red pout is the sole exception to the no-makeup look, and newcomer La Bouche Rouge, founded by a former L’Oréal marketing executive, Nicolas Gerlier, and Self Service magazine’s Ezra Petronio, brings a very contemporary spin to this iconic staple. With over 28 shades of red, in matte or satin finish, the brand has a vegan formula available, and all lipsticks are made without endocrine disrupters, allergens, paraffins or perfumes. Plus, they come in a stylish, entirely plastic-free and refillable case. For now they can be found in their own corner stand in Le Bon Marché. 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007, laboucherougeparis.com.
Officine Universelle Buly
Modeled after an old-school apothecary, Officine Universelle Buly sits apart from the competition thanks to its reverence for ancestral beauty traditions in the form of balms, powders and oils. In addition to their exquisitely packaged line of candles, fragrances, skin-care and body-care products, the stylish shelves in this store are stocked with out-of-the-ordinary supplies such as plum kernel oil, sourced from plums in southwest France, which is purported to be high in antioxidants and revitalizing for mature skins, and babassu oil, an extract from an Amazonian plant with remarkable reviving properties. Left Bank: 6 Rue Bonaparte, 75006; Right Bank: 45 Rue de Saintonge, 75003, buly1803.com.
If you only have time for one shopping outing, this is truly the one-stop shop for cult French pharmacy products. Think Bioderma Crealine H2O, Caudalie facial mist, Embryolisse rich face cream and Klorane dry hair shampoo, to name just a few. Happily, the staff are all incredibly knowledgeable. Grab a basket and stock up. 26 Rue du Four, 75006, pharmacie-citypharma.fr.
Galeries Lafayette, Champs-Élysées
An exciting addition to the Parisian retail scene, the new Galeries Lafayette seems to be filling the hole that Colette left behind when it closed in 2017. In addition to its stellar fashion offerings, a jam-packed events program and two Jacquemus-designed restaurants, there is an impressive beauty space, Beauty 3.0, on the ground floor. Refreshingly, the merchandising here is not divided into men’s and women’s: Instead all fragrance, makeup products, creams and high-tech beauty tools are bundled together. The store stands out for its emphasis on a new generation of digital-first or direct-to-consumer brands, like the French supplements brand Aime, with its best-selling potion French Glow, and the honey-based hair-care line Gisou. 60 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008, galerieslafayettechampselysees.com.