BOURJOIS is back in Britain and writer Samantha Brick, who has lived in France for 14 years, reveals why she loves the brand’s affordable, no-nonsense beauty products.
OOH-LA-LA! French beauty brand Bourjois is returning to the UK.
Just as our Anglo-French love affair with baguettes, fromage and lashings of Provencal rosé can never be dimmed, neither can our amour for the iconic “little round pots” of blusher.
Many peachy-cheeked Brits were lost when Bourjois stopped being sold on the High Street in 2018 and will be happy to hear it’s now been reintroduced at Superdrug.
But my supply has never run out because I live in France — where Bourjois has very much remained a make-up bag staple.
When I moved here 14 years ago, I used to stock up on my favourite beauty items on trips back to the UK. Now though? I rely on France’s beauty industry.
It doesn’t require a genius to work out that the French are getting something right when it comes to their beauty and skincare — the women here look incredible, at all ages. In fact, I’d say they actually get better with age.
Their skin is radiant, make-up low-key but oh-so effective, and their hair tousled to perfection.
I’m 51 and perimenopausal but I feel like I’m more beautiful than I was when I moved to France, over a decade ago.
Of course, some of that is down to the inner peace and confidence that comes with age, but discovering France’s beauty secrets has certainly helped.
This country produces some fantastic products that do not break the bank — and what’s more, they’re all available in the UK, so you can get your hands on them, too.
ADD BOURJOIS BLUSH UNDER CHEEKBONE
I BECAME a convert to the Bourjois brand because it’s inexpensive and the products work — no surprise given that it launched its “compact rouge” in a little round pot in 1879.
I use the brand’s light coverage foundation for fancy nights out and a volumizing mascara for everyday use. The petit pots — with mirrors — fit perfectly in my handbag.
I alternate between three blusher shades — two of the classic pink varieties and a peach one.
Unlike those of us who clumsily spread it on to the apple of our cheeks in the Nineties, as with everything in France less is more. I have discovered that the powder should be discreetly applied to the side of the face, just beneath the cheekbone creating a soft warmer, sculpted look.
Look to No Time To Die actress Lea Seydoux for a masterclass in this.
ALWAYS PLUMP FOR A L’OREAL RED LIP
THE actress is also a fan of a red lip — because in France, is there any other colour than rouge?
Red goes with everything, especially my much-loved Breton tops.
French Vogue has voted L’Oreal’s Magnetic Corail as one of the top red lipsticks for the summer.
As for eyes, the Brigitte Bardot cat eye flick has never gone out of fashion.
Eyebrows are left untamed — tattooed or micro-bladed is just not a thing here.
You never see women wearing complicated shades of half a dozen colours on their eyelids either.
Fancy serums and expensive moisturisers aren’t on the radar of most French women, either.
It’s not that they’re lazy — it’s just that they expect more for their cash. Complicated contour kits are a no-no too.
The au naturel look of 50-year- old French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg — daughter of Jane Birkin — is what most women ascribe to.
MULTI-PURPOSE ITEMS ARE A MUST-HAVE
THE French go for products which do more than one job.
Supermarket beauty aisles are filled with BB cremes — that’s moisturiser, foundation and sun protection all in one product.
The best one I’ve found is by Garnier. It costs less than a bottle of wine and gives light gorgeous coverage.
Fancy brushes aren’t necessary either. As one French make-up artist explained to me: “Apply your foundation like a leetle kitten gently pawing at your face.”
Micellar water is used instead of wipes, cleansing creams and toners.
My thirtysomething stepdaughter got me into using the Garnier skin active version. Cheap as frites and it absolutely does the job.
Other brands such as Nivea and Bioderma produce excellent affordable versions too.
LOOK FOR THE £2 CLAY FACE MASKS
FRENCH women (and men) are big on face masks.
Usually I’ll buy a packet of powdery green clay from the chemist for £2.60 and it lasts a year.
One of my French girlfriends introduced me to this, and it’s not just cheap but easy to use.
I’ll mix it up with some water and leave it on for five minutes (or until it dries). I can almost feel the impurities being pulled out of my pores.
The French like dermatologists and under their healthcare system you can visit one to check everything from moles to acne.
I’ve seen at least six and they all recommend two brands for troublesome skin: Avene and La Roche-Posey.
STOP WASHING YOUR HAIR AND MASK INSTEAD
IT will come as a surprise to no one that French women do not wash their hair as often as us Brits.
But what they do at least once a week is use a repairing hair mask.
I got the fright of my life the first time I had a haircut in France.
The first question a French hairstylist will ask you when you go to a salon is which one you use.
I recommend Garnier or L’Oreal who do loads of different ones, depending on your hair type.
LATHER ON THE OLIVE OIL AND STOCK UP ON SOAP
IN a country where the south produces almond and olive oil, it makes sense that oils are a French woman’s friend.
Every home has almond oil in the kitchen drawer to soften hands, smooth on the body in the winter and apply to children’s dry skin.
It’s rare you’ll walk into a French household and not spot a block of green olive oil soap in the kitchen or bathroom — they last for years.
Most households also have Le Petit Marseillais shower gel in their bathrooms. For really (really) dry skin, CeraVe is an affordable brand friends rave about for everything from chapped heels to dry elbows.
There are some things France will never replace. I will choose my beloved Marmite on toast over a pain au chocolat any day.
But the best beauty brands in the world? They are right on my doorstep.
SAM’S FAVOURITE GALLIC BEAUTY BUYS
- Bourjois little round pot blusher, £8.99, – buy here
- CeraVe moisturising lotion, £10, – buy here
- Garnier Pure Active micellar water, £4.99, – buy here
- Le Petit Marseillais shower gel, from £4.50, – buy here
- Garnier Perfecting Care all-in-one BB cream, £9.99, – buy here
- L’Oreal Magnetic Coral lipstick, £9, – buy here