Arguably, one of a Frenchwoman’s most remarkable natural resources is her thick, bouncy, healthy hair.
Apart from her enviable figure, which may or may not come naturally, I think her hair is largely responsible for her international reputation as a creature of unparalleled elegance.
Why do I think this? Primarily because her hair moves. In the world over, young women have shiny, swingy hair, but after a certain age, many women want their tresses to stay in place. Neat and practical inexorably replace natural. What a shame.
French women of a certain age reign supreme in this extremely important grooming detail. Their hair is never fussy or fixed; a breeze may lift it carelessly and they don’t care. It’s another attractive aspect of their seeming nonchalance. Their coiffures add to an attitude that makes them appear young and carefree.
Why is this possible? Because a Frenchwoman has taken the time and effort and passed through the necessary trial-and-error tribulations to find the one person who can give her the absolutely perfect haircut and color, which she knows will make her look and feel confident and comfortable every day, no matter what. Frenchwomen know what they want, but as for all of us, it sometimes takes considerable time and dedication to find stylists who can execute their desires.
As I’ve said, we are our own best investment. We must never forget this truism. Once we accept this very French idea, we acknowledge that investments require attention and active intervention. Sometimes, you need to invest more than time. You may need to invest money. So, let me be perfectly clear: Your hair is you. You wake up in the morning, you look in the mirror, and you see that wonderful cut and color. Instantly, you feel good about yourself before you start your day.
That’s a major payoff from an investment, and no one knows this better than Frenchwomen of a certain age. Budgeting for one’s well-being and self-confidence is serious business. There are many areas in which one can be aggressively frugal, and others—haircuts and color, for example—in which one should accept that she must make a relatively important budget outlay. No matter their means, Frenchwomen do not like to squander their time or money, but when it comes to their hair, they tend to be extravagant.
A Frenchwoman also does not face the dreaded daily hair ritual of shampoo, conditioner, product, the blow-dry contortion of torturing her hair into a “do” that the cut and natural inclination of the hair may resist, followed by more product to hold it in position. Under normal conditions, Frenchwomen wash their hair twice a week.
That’s a beauty secret if there ever was one. My hair looks best two days after a shampoo; that’s when it cooperates with whatever I want it to do. I admit, I’m not very demanding, since all I do is brush my hair. After a swim, I rinse it and add a leave-in conditioner, avoiding the scalp area and concentrating on the ends.
As one of my French friends pointed out, “We don’t want ‘sophisticated,’ because anything ‘too-too’ seems contrived, and we always want everyone to think that everything we do is effortless, completely natural.”
That’s another one of their secrets: Frenchwomen of a certain age will blatantly deny that they’ve spent time fixing themselves up, and the best part is that they all know it’s not quite true. It’s an inside joke.
Some Frenchwomen have weekly brushings built into their beauty budgets. “After having my hair done—by that I mean a wash and a blow-dry—I feel so confident and groomed that I think it’s worth the expense,” one of my particularly chic friends told me. She deep-conditions her hair at home, but for her, these weekly indulgences are worth every centime.