The 5 chicest French women I know just told me their hair secrets—here's how to get that Parisian look

You better believe there's some bob insights, too

Carrole Sagba with hair in centre parting and trench coat GettyImages-1392571883
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From the rise of the French bob to the return of their namesake braid, it’s pretty obvious that French women lead the way when it comes to hair trends. And it’s no wonder why—the epitome of chicness, French women have long set the bar for effortlessly cool style from top to toe. Don’t believe me? Just check out Fashion Editor Penny’s edit of the best pieces French women are buying right now. When it comes to hair however, the rule still applies, as chic French-girl inspired hair styles are dotted throughout many a Pinterest board or Instagram Saved page (mine included). 

So, what makes them so good? The secret is in the styling. While, of course, French women’s hair can range across many different lengths, hair types and colours, most of the looks we typify as classic French-inspired hairstyles have one thing in common: they exude a sense of understated glamour.

To find out how they do it, I went straight to the experts, and by that I mean French women themselves of course, to find out their favourite hairstyles, how they create them and just how we can bring a little French glamour to our own beauty looks. Here’s what they had to say…

1. The messy bun

Paris-based creator Kenza Sadoun El Glaoui swears by a chic messy bun and a relaxed approach to styling, “French women often like hairstyles that appear casual and natural, so avoid looks that are too perfectly styled," she says. "I don't like overly sophisticated hairstyles in everyday life as I don't feel like myself. While I don't do much hair styling, I do spend a lot of time in the bathroom doing oil baths and hair masks."

"On the other hand, I like to put my hair up in a bun that looks unkempt, so that it stays natural, and sometimes I add a clip to accessorise. I don't use any tools other than the Dyson Airwrap with different [attachments]. ”

To create her tousled bun, Kenza twists her hair into a loose up-do, securing it with a band or claw clips. She leaves a few strands loose around her face, curling these with the Dyson Airwrap so they frame her face.

Her top tip: "Keep in mind that less is sometimes more. Don't overload your hair with products and let its natural texture shine." The result? A chic up-do with instant French charm.

2. The centre part

While Gen Z may have outlawed the side parting in recent years, stylish French women have been owning the sleek, centre-parted look for so much longer. For fashion and beauty influencer Carrole Sagba, it’s her go-to look which she re-works across many different hair styles. “I tend to mix my two cultures, sometimes you will see me with African braids or straightened hair but always with a middle parting. I've had this hairstyle for a very long time, and I love its minimalist appearance,” she says

Once again, rather than focusing on lots of styling products, it’s caring for her hair that is key. “From a young age I was taught to take care of my hair,” she told me “This is why I use castor oil two to three times a week to properly nourish my hair.”

Proof that the effortless French look can work across all hair types and styles, Carrole told me, “In France being effortlessly chic goes from clothing to hairstyles. There is almost no extravagance. So, regardless of hair texture, we favour simple and natural hairstyles for an elegant result.”

3. The slicked side part

Proof that you can channel French elegance no matter your hair length, model and mum of three, Sophie, swears by a slicked side-parted style. “I would say French style is effortless with a lot of effort behind it, actually, and the best way to do it is through our hair, not trying too hard but still being put together,” she told me.

“For me, my hairstyle needs to be quick, as balancing mum life with my professional life takes time. When I have this time for myself I’m looking for effective products that don’t involve lots of time.”

“For a glamorous look, what works the best for me is a simple, slick side part, as it elevates the look without taking the focus off the outfit. I simply put some hair gel on my wet hair and ,once I'm happy with the results, I lock it in with some hairspray.”

4. Elevated texture

One thing all the influencers and content creators I’ve spoken to have agreed on is that, among French women, the way to get the most out of your hair is to elevate and embrace its natural texture, whether it’s straight, curly or somewhere in between. For stylist Lucie Mahé that means leaning into her naturally straight hair and giving it a polished look. 

“I have straight hair so I often respect its nature and just blow-dry it at home to get it nice and straight,” she told me, “I think hair au naturel is very beautiful. If you have curly hair, take care of your curls and style them well. If your hair is straight, accentuate its straightness. The French girl arranges her hair, but not too much: less is more!”

When it comes to this look, once again, hair health is key. “I've always taken care of my hair, but for years I did too much balayage which has made it dry and very brittle,” she says. “I take dietary supplements. JS Health Hair+Energy and Collagen Vital are great for hair growth. For maintenance, I wash my hair every three days, and I use treatments every time!”

5. The French bob

I couldn’t compile a list of the most stylish french hairstyles without including the iconic French bob. For Franny Mozemba it’s her go-to style, characterised by its short length and minimal styling.

“It’s my favourite hairstyle that I have worn for years now,” she told me, “[When it comes to styling], I don't really have a specific approach, it depends on my moods. In general, it is often characterised by an elegant simplicity, so I use products that give me quick results without needing to touch up anything during the day.”

“I often wear natural hair weaves and wigs, and here is my simple routine that I do for my own 4c hair and protective styles: To style my cut, I opt for an easy-to-maintain look. I use Rudolph Care Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner for my own dry, brittle hair, as well as to maintain my natural wigs. Then, I apply a texturising mist to give my cut a little volume. Currently I use a product from Rouje. It's really excellent if you have fine hair.”

Her advice for those who want to adopt a more French approach to haircare? “Favour quality over quantity, but above all listen to your [hair's] needs, opting for what allows you to save time to have that je ne sais quoi!” 

Jazzria Harris
Freelance Fashion & Beauty Writer

Jazzria Harris is a freelance fashion and beauty journalist with over 8 years experience working in the industry. At just 4ft 11, she’s an expert in petite dressing and previously wrote the column Jazz’s Short Stories giving tips and advice on dressing for petite proportions. Her wardrobe staples are a great black blazer, a hardworking slip skirt and of course a great pair of heels (for the extra inches, of course). Jazz has written for publications including ELLE UK, heat magazine, Eliza, Women & Home and more.