The French Hairstyles That Parisian Fashionistas Always Ask For
There is a beauty cult devoted to stereotypical French girl hair and its effortless "je ne sais quoi." But in spite of Emily in Paris being fresh in our Netflix queues, we are more curious about the modern takes on Parisian styles — which encompass all sorts of cuts, looks, styles, and textures. But even chic Parisians aren't immune to COVID-19 restrictions, which have ranged from 9 p.m. curfews to the newly reenacted total confinement, which entails stay-at-home orders for all non-sanctioned activities. This, according to stylists, inevitably impacted the nature of clients' requests due to inconsistencies in salon accessibility. "There is a need for cuts and styles that structurally have their own flow and don't need to be worked on," Paris-based celebrity hairstylist Jillian Halouska tells TZR.
Though there are restrictions in place, Parisian women are still providing us with plenty of hair inspiration with the cuts, styles, and trends they're rocking from lockdown in the city of light. Some of them are quite intuitive — longer lengths, natural textures, and shaggy layers that reflect less consistent salon visits. Plus, fringe of all varieties — curly, long, thick, side-swept, overgrown, and messy — continue to make statements in the French woman's repertoire. Some styles balance the incorporation of mandatory cloth face masks to the face, such as renewed interest in old high ponytails, and even synthetic ponies for added volume, lengths, and textures. Others celebrate natural hair textures in their true glory.
Keep reading to see what the experts have identified as the top Paris hair trends of the Fall/Winter season.
French Hairstyle: Messy-Pretty Textures
"It seems au naturel wisps of hair take center stage no matter the texture," Halouska says of Parisians' signature laissez-faire locks. In general, the French seem far less concerned with achieving glossy smoothness from heat tools than we are stateside, unconcernedly letting their flyaways fly — and this passes as professional. Grungy-pretty textures may result from the city's hard water, which is loaded with minerals like calcium and magnesium—hence the Parisian penchant for micellar water for the skin, and shampoing sec (i.e., dry shampoo) for the hair, which prolongs time in between washes. This NCBI study confirms that hard water impacts hair strength negatively and makes breakage much more likely, making Paris' calcium-heavy, mineral-rich, hard water a liability for your locks. (You can even buy special showerheads at beauty stores to remedy the matter.)
"One great tip is after two days of shampooing your hair, [to] skip a day and instead spray a little bit of dry shampoo on the roots," says Damien Boissinot, Creative Hairstylist at Réné Furterer, who recommends Réné Furterer NATURIA Dry Shampoo. "This will give you a nice texture and a natural look [while keeping] your hair clean."
French Hairstyle: Angled Afros
Naturalistas in France love letting their curls flow free, without much manipulation. To rock this look, Ciara Costenoble, Paris-based hair stylist, emphasizes that moisture is of the essence. "Weekly hair masks and all the hydration [are becoming] a weekly habit," she says. "It is all about moisture, the best hair oils, and styling creams. I am really enjoying seeing everyone take an interest in the health of their hair during this time."
French Hairstyle: The Curly Bowl Cut
Remember when Celine Dion surprised us on the streets of Paris with a bowl cut during Fashion Week in 2019? Or perhaps you can recall the bowl cuts on the Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2020 runways? Well, Boissinot says that runway-beloved bowl cuts are here in full force—including for curly hair types. Before memories of your least-favorite childhood 'dos turn you off of this trend, rest assured that curly textures come across less severe—taking the edge off, so to speak. Think of it more like a curly bob with bangs, that will grow into a rocker-chic shag.
Paris Hair Trend: Extra-Long Length
With fewer trips to the salon, it intuitively follows that locks will get longer. "Long tresses are back," Costenoble confirms. "Even I am growing my hair out for the first time in years... Everyone is using this time to try out longer lengths." She adds that grown-out layers with "bedhead" bangs are girly, yet sexy.
French Hairstyle: Shags, Off-Center Parts
Crooked part? No problem. Halouska notes that longer lengths are being embellished by shaggy layers, thick bangs, and off-center parts. The modern Parisian's look right now is not about the unattainable, perfectly-coiffed style. It's more about exuding effortless vibes... no matter the effort it actually takes.
French Hairstyle: Textured Chignons
Halouska points out that half-up looks, as well as messy, pulled-back chignons at the nape of the neck, are two other French-girl savvy ways to style your hair. But to get the right texture, "[Form your] hands into a claw-like position to gather the hair, rather than the flat-handed technique preferred by Américaines."
French Hairstyle: The Bob
Boissinot notes the chin-length bob has been popular for two seasons and counting. "It's easy to wear and looks amazing straight, curly, slicked back, and with bangs. [It's a] great look," he says. Blunt-cut bobs lose their sharpness as they grow in, but on the plus side, they will become another appealing look of the season: the collarbone-grazing lob.
French Hairstyle: Center-Parted Low Ponies and Buns
As bobs grow out into awkward lengths, It-girls are pulling their locks into itty-bitty low pony's and buns to keep loose tendrils out of their faces. To make the style ultra-sleek, part it down the center, slick down the sides, and fasten it extra tight just at the nape of the neck. C'est trop chic.
French Hairstyle: Overgrown Fringes
Constenoble shares that overgrown bangs are increasingly worn eye-grazing or even swept to the side. French-girl fringes are famous for their tousled perfection, and bangs are lower maintenance than you would expect: Boissinot is confident that we can trim them ourselves. "Personally, I think it's quite easy to trim your bangs by yourself, especially if you do it often with the scissors' tip," he says. "Do not cut straight, but instead go with a soft degraded [cut]." This is key to achieving signature bangs that can be worn long, parted, curly, shaggy, or with a "bedhead" texture—imperfectly perfect in their own right.
French Hairstyle: The Girl Next Door Pony
The perky "girl next door" high ponytail is also making a comeback. Whether your hair type is sleek and straight, wavy, downright curly, or braided, this classic updo should not be overlooked. Constenoble points out that it looks great worn with your cloth face mask, and that it is an especially cute way to style box braids. A synthetic pony is another go-to look that gives off the impression of taking time and effort, but really goes on "like a breeze."
French Hairstyle: Lazy Layers
The ultimate DIY beauty hack is knowing how to grow-out your layers gracefully. Case-in-point? Grown-out bangs can be parted in the center to be worn like shaggy curtain fringe, and then eventually incorporated into your down 'do as if they are natural, face-framing layers. They add dimension and a little wave.
Accordingly, when their bangs become too long, some Parisians are simply going with it. "French women are still loyal to a good fringe moment, but this grown-out 90's fringe is taking over and I love it," Constenoble says. "Worn parted in the middle or swept over and lightly layered, [...] barely there layers grow out perfectly and give the hair just enough texture for wavy hairstyles." Think of your grown-out layers like a naturally-occurring shag, and let your natural waves shine.
French Hairstyle: Anything '90s
The nineties revival is going strong in Paris, too. Celebs like Miley Cyrus made double-buns (AKA space buns) more common in recent years, but they were first popularized in the 1990's on stars like Brandy and Gwen Stefani. Other notable nineties looks include face-framing tendrils paired with messy buns, feathered bangs, center parts, and half-up 'dos.
Single buns of all styles—curly, sleek, high, and low—are another category of semi-protective hairstyle that is surging in popularity. For gals with textured hair, Constenoble recommends styling your buns (pun intended) with a "generous application of a hydrating hair cream and finishing off the look with a light gel for the edges."
French Hairstyle: Braids
"Braids are very popular," Constenoble says, noting that whether you opt for long coils, twists, or more traditional box braids, they provide easy upkeep when "the last thing you want to worry about, during a pandemic, is your hair." Keep in mind that these stunning styles do require some upkeep. 90s-inspired twists will need refreshing every five-to-six weeks.
French Hairstyle: Bantu Knots
For a fashion forward look, you can try out bantu knots, which work well in natural, textured hair types. "This can easily be worn several days and the bonus is [that] once you take [them] down, you have a second, smoother-textured style to wear," Constenoble says. They reflect the influences of Little Africa, which is found in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. Reflecting France's extensive imperialist past, you can experience the diverse cultures of the African diaspora in the eateries, shops, and markets throughout the Goutte-d'Or district. Thus, the beauty influences from various regions of Africa can thus be seen throughout the city.
French Hairstyle: Scarves, Hats, & Accessories
When in doubt, accessorize. The fact is that Paris, like any city, is a diverse urban center with a veritable melting pot of cultures and styles. Will you see hipsters throwing on grungy beanies? Totally. Will you see chic little berets? It is decidedly so. How about a wool fedora? Sans doute. In an ode to the classics, a sleek hair scarf or headband paired with curls will forever be one of our favorites.