A French Beauty Expert Reveals Her DIY Mojito Hair Mask Recipe
Recently I had the opportunity to quiz Sylvie Chantecaille (of the luxe skin and makeup brand of the same name) on all things French beauty. The French-born expert now resides in NYC but still holds onto many of the products and rituals of her homeland. Why? Because they work. Sylvie's beauty advice is, as I always find French expertise to be, sensible and mostly about balance. This isn't a woman who prescribes a 9-step skincare routine, weekly manicures or anything even remotely high maintenance in order to embody the French beauty ideal. In her own words, Sylvie describes Parisian beauty as "not a big deal" adding: "the girls that are icons would never spend five hours prepping themselves before they go out the door in the morning." If this refreshing piece of information resonates with you, you'll be excited to learn that an important part of Sylvie's lo-fi beauty routine involves a very special DIY hair mask. (How's that for down to earth?) French girl hair is something I have dedicated a sizable chunk of my career as a beauty editor to chasing, and until now I've never happened across a similar recipe. Made with a surprising ingredient (one we definitely have on hand most weekends), the how-to was handed down from Sylvie's mother, meaning it's been thoroughly tried and tested.
Keep scrolling for Sylvie's French beauty tips and hair mask recipe.
Byrdie Australia: Being French-born, what are your thoughts on the current fascination with "Parisian beauty"?
Sylvie Chantecaille: I think it’s about a feeling of freedom. The French have a sense of feeling that their beauty is not a big deal! It's natural—and the girls that are icons are very strong individuals who would never spend five hours prepping themselves before they go out the door in the morning.
B: What do you think it is about the French take on beauty that has captivated women in the West?
SC: It’s possible that other women are starting to see that you can be feminine and sexy without working so hard at it. I have always believed the basic difference between American women and French women is that Americans get done up to be judged by other women—French women are more interested in what men think.
B: Which are your favorite skincare products from your own line?
SC: That’s impossible to say! Every Chantecaille product has to be a favourite otherwise it wouldn’t exist. But, I can’t live without our Pure Rosewater ($96). I can’t fly without it, I can’t wake up in the morning without it and I can’t go to bed without it. It is the only rosewater that is made from nothing but the very, very rare Rose de Mai. There is nothing else in each bottle but the extract of 1,000 petals. Right now I’m also using our Blanc Gardenia Brightening Essence ($266) because I have a lot of sun damage. I just refuse to deprive myself of a warm day in the sun! I love the Bio Lifting Cream Plus ($495) too.
B: Are there any other French beauty products you can’t live without?
SC: I love Leonor Greyl’s conditioner ($36); I am miserable without it. It makes my hair look so healthy, shiny and happy. Magnesium tablets are sold at all French pharmacies; they allow me to relax before bedtime and not lose my marbles! And sunscreen—I love Esthederm on my body for sun time.
B: Which French beauty rituals you hold onto in New York?
SC: My mother always made a hair mask from an egg yolk, olive oil, and rum. (The rum makes it penetrate your hair.) I leave it on for a good half hour at least, and do it at least once a month. It gets you in the mood for a mojito. It can turn into a very nice party!
B: Are there any French beauty tips you have stuck with all your life?
SC: You should never look too made up and you should always have beautiful healthy skin as your base. This idea is what has led me to create makeup companies based on foundation. When I founded Prescriptives, my priority was to make foundation that matched skin perfectly. This took me to labs in Asia to ensure I was making makeup with the finest, most imperceptible molecules and pigments. Additionally, in Europe we choose between a bold eye or a bold lip—never both.