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Charlotte Gainsbourg On The Skincare Products She Can’t Live Without, And How She Achieves French Girl Chic

Many a think piece has been written on Charlotte Gainsbourg’s effortless approach to style and beauty, and for good reason. The actress, singer, Balenciaga muse, and daughter of two amazing icons — Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg — typifies the “cool French girl” aesthetic that the rest of the world is constantly striving to achieve. When it comes to laid-back beauty, no one does it better than Charlotte.

The French legend recently teamed up with François Nars on a #flawless 15-piece make-up range for his namesake brand, and it’s the most exciting thing to happen to us so far in 2017, hands down. Some standouts from the magic collection include the Hydrating Glow Tint (a gel-cream foundation that’ll give you a natural finish, like youre wearing no make-up at all #wokeuplikethis), sheer versions of the brand’s iconic Multiples (to give you that just-had-sex flush), the Rue Allent Velvet Duo Eyeshadow (for the perf smokey eye), and the Zinc Kohliner (a creamy liner that smokes out the lash line and defines the waterline #essential). 

And, for the first time, Charlotte’s collection will debut a brand new product in addition to the existing NARS line: the incredibly elegant Lip Tint – a glossy hint of colour available in three shades. Could it get any more chic? Probs not.

Everything in this line aims to give you that subtle, cool, French chic vibe; barely there make-up, a grungy eye, and a flush of colour on the cheeks and lips. It’s really the coolest collab we’ve seen in a long time.

To celebrate this beautiful union, we had a chat to Charlotte about staying true to yourself, her minimalist beauty routine, and the advice she’d give her 20-year-old self. Get amongst it below.

Tell us about your beauty routine. What products do you use, and why?
I tend to use skincare called Biologique Recherche. I come back to it each time I wander off and try out new things. I should know by now that that never works for me. Then it’s really just a question of camouflaging dark circles a little (not too much), spots, and giving myself a little life in the cheeks. In the morning, it’s too early for me to enhance lashes or lips – that can happen later in the day.

You don’t seem to wear much make-­up, which compliments your overall elegant, minimal, and chic look. What are the beauty products you use to achieve that look?
I would say always a concealer and something to enhance the lips for every day.

When you have limited time in the morning to get ready and run out the door, what’s the one thing you reach for?
Smith’s lip balm!

It seems you’re very selective with who you collaborate with creatively; what was it about this partnership that felt right?
I’ve always loved the brand, first for the packaging that was so elegant and unusual. I was flattered and quite excited because it was such an unusual request for me – I don’t typically wear a lot of make-up, so I was surprised that François Nars chose me for a collaboration.

What’s your favourite piece in the collection, and why?
The brushes are my favourite. I love how beautiful they are.

There’s a perception that French women are the most beautiful in the world, and so women just love to know their beauty secrets. Is that a bit of a stereotype, or is there actually something to it?
I cannot really speak for all French women, but I can say for me personally, I was brought up with the idea that natural was always better than artificial. You had to be yourself and not try too much. I get a sense in America that people do wear much more make-up. The skin tone always seems very unified, but again it’s difficult to say.

What does beauty mean to you, and how do you think it’s changed since you started your career?
My view really hasn’t changed. For me, there is no definition. That’s what’s beautiful!

If you were to give your 20-year-old self advice, what would it be?
Stay true to yourself and what works for you.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
I find inspiration with instincts, trusting them in the end. Wanting to be carried by them.

Beauty-wise, what knowledge did you impart on your daughters growing up?
For my daughters, I think the least I say the better, because I want my daughters to be able to explore and not to feel restrained. I hope that they will be as comfortable as possible in comparison to me, it took me such a long time to accept anything about myself. I’m watching them, and I think they’re on a good path. It’s really about staying true to yourself and what works for you.

Words, Madeleine Woon. Photography, Béatrice de Géa.
With thanks to Charlotte Gainsbourg.