The gorgeous au naturel yet unapologetically bold aesthetic of French makeup has transcended the annals of time; borne of that, though, is a genuinely daunting number of phenomenal French makeup brands. Makeup artists, beauty experts, and Parisiennes alike maintain a religious proclivity for these brands and devotedly use their products as the final step of their daily skincare routines. One can hardly be blamed for wanting to join them, but deciding which brands and products to choose can prove tricky.
Thus, we present to you the ultimate guide to everything French makeup. Keep scrolling to find the best French makeup brands—from the most iconic to the more obscure—definitively categorized & ranked, with the absolute *must-have* products from each highlighted along the way.
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Luxury French makeup brands
With their sumptuously designed packaging and first-class ingredients, there's a je ne sais quoi about luxury makeup that breeds self-confidence. A bejewelled tube of lipstick here and a glistening blusher palette there, and you're suddenly transformed into Kendall Jenner gallivanting around Hollywood's reddest red carpets. (By the way, her gorgeously full lash look is thanks to Dior's Diorshow Mascara, which we will be covering later in this post—so keep scrolling!)
Of course, luxury makeup comes with a not-so-inexpensive price tag, and you want to ensure that you're getting more than just the coveted label. Don't worry though, we've got you covered. Ahead are eight luxury makeup brands that are more than worth the splurge!
#1 - Chanel
Famously championed by the ilk of Marilyn Monroe, Margot Robbie, Keira Knightley, Cara Delevingne, and Nicole Kidman, Chanel has been a celebrity-favourite brand since the very dawn of its inception. Launched in 1924 was Chanel's first makeup products consisting of their earliest collections of luxurious powders and lipsticks, the evolutions of which are among the most widely used by celebrities and have become cult-favourites and absolute *must-haves* for any makeup lover.
#2 - Givenchy
This luxury fashion brand made its debut in the cosmetics industry in 1988 when it joined the prestigious LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) group. It now boasts a runway-worthy makeup collection inspired by Hubert de Givenchy's original muse: Audrey Hepburn. We are *obsessed* with their best-selling Prisme Libre Loose Powder - you need this in your shopping cart ASAP.
#3 - Dior
Dior, the French fashion brand which dates back to the 1940s, is now synonymous with feminine beauty and classic, timeless fashion. Much like Givenchy, the brand evolved into the realm of cosmetics, where it now claims quite the hegemony over the luxury makeup space. The brand also maintains a relationship with the prestigious luxury conglomerate LVMH, but a much more intriguing one than that of Givenchy. It technically only joined in 2017, but nominally it has been a part of LVMH ever since it was taken under the wing of Bernard Arnault - the founder of LVMH - in the 1970s.
#4 - Guerlain
Guerlain is among the oldest perfume, skincare, and cosmetics houses globally; it began life in 1828 in Paris under Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain, followed by five more generations of Guerlains - a real family business! Are you tired of seeing the acronym LVMH yet? Well, as a major European luxury brand, its acquisition by LVMH in 1994 was inevitable - as that has seemingly become the hallmark of a luxury brand worth it's salt.
#5 - Yves Saint Laurent
YSL Beauty may have been an extension of its original couture saga started in 1964, but by no means has that made it any less of a makeup giant today. With that said, there's certainly an argument to be made that their cult-favourite radiance-enhancing pen is now more iconic than YSL itself - one gets sold every 10 seconds!
#6 - Lancome
Continuing the trend of large-scale acquisitions, L'Oréal acquired Lancôme in 1964, and it is now recognised as one of the largest luxury skincare companies in the world. We noted their particular penchant for luxurious design in our Best French Skincare Brands article, which has clearly transferred to their sumptuous makeup collections as it has consequently earned them this spot amongst the best French beauty brands, too.
#7 - Clarins
As our 'Best Luxury French Skincare Brand', it would be a surprise if they did not make an appearance on this list. Alas, here they are. After developing a plethora of luxury skincare products with immense success for decades, they had a relatively trivial time when it came to venturing into the world of luxury makeup. Their first collection was made with the express purpose of revealing the natural beauty of every woman; every evolution since has followed suit perfectly.
#8 - Sisley Paris
Sisley is world-renowned for its high-quality, sensorial, luxurious products that are regularly awarded prestigious international prizes. Although they are one of the more contemporary French make up brands (founded in 1976), their story is formed on the success of a prior family venture spanning an entire generation before. Consequently, they have over eighty years of experience and research that goes into every botanical-infused beauty product of theirs.
Budget French makeup brands
Affordable makeup brands tend to be associated with low-quality ingredients and poor skin reactions, but you can rest assured that with French beauty brands, this is absolutely not the case. With these astonishingly inexpensive brands, the surprise is not: "wow - this product is surprisingly good for its price"; it's: "wow - how is such a high-quality product so cheap?".
Of course, not every budget brand can claim this, but keep scrolling to discover four of our favourite budget French makeup brands that are genuine hidden gems!
#1 - Yves Rocher
Launched by a countryman from the north of France, Yves Rocher has gained millions of loyal fans globally for its natural approach to affordable French beauty. Yves Rocher himself was a trailblazer for botanical beauty products, and this is reflected heavily in his brand's makeup line today. Alongside our title of 'Best Affordable French Skincare Brand' (from our Best French Skincare Brands article), Yves Rocher has well-earned the equivalent title in the realm of makeup - the 'Affordable Best French Makeup Brand'.
#2 - L'Oreal
I refuse to believe that there is anybody that hasn't at least heard of this mega-brand; I would, however, be more willing to accept that you didn't know it originally began as a hair-dye company in 1919! As the success of the brand attests, you really can't go wrong with L'Oréal. Millions of people entrust them with their beauty and self-care routines daily, and with such affordable prices, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not at least trying some of their best French makeup products.
#3 - Bourjois
Although since acquired by an American firm, this is among the oldest French beauty brands still in existence. Since 1863, Bourjois has innovated clever, creative makeup and beauty products that simplify beauty at a very affordable price. I believe I speak for all Parisiennes in saying that it is a solid brand that can be relied upon for all of your essential makeup needs.
#4 - La Roche Posay
Innocently masquerading as a French pharmacy skincare brand, La Roche Posay secretly boasts a killer makeup collection! Much like their skincare products, all of their makeup is allergy-tested and designed with sensitive & problem skin in mind. That's not their only edge, though, as these are some seriously premium products at some seriously budget prices.
Lesser known French makeup brands
For one reason or another, whether it be company age, overwhelming competition, or extenuating circumstances, some brands never get quite the same level of word-of-mouth exposure as others. Unfortunately, this has the consequence of some particularly spectacular brands with stunning products going unheard of, which just doesn't seem fair to us.
Thus, we present to you our favourite lesser known makeup brands of French origin. Keep scrolling to discover these hidden gems that you may have been missing out on!
#1 - By Terry
Dedication to cutting-edge skincare-infused makeup has thrust By Terry into cult status amongst Parisiennes over the course of the past decade. The rest of the world is also slowly catching on, but it deserves far more global recognition than it currently has. Also, for the record, Yves Saint Laurent's spot amongst the luxury best French makeup brands is practically entirely owed to By Terry's trailblazing founder, Terry de Gunzburg. This is because the iconic YSL Touche Eclat Highlighter we mentioned earlier was, in-fact, her creation.
#2 - T. LeClerc
Despite being one of the oldest French pharmacy brands, T. LeClerc remains surprisingly obscure compared to its similarly-aged counterparts, especially considering their impressive range of products and history. Born into a family of artists, Théophile LeClerc was an admirer of art and all things beauty, which inspired him to open his pharmacy in 1881, in the prestigious heart of Paris. Today more than ever, T. LeClerc remains true to these pharmaceutical roots.
#3 - Laura Mercier
Founded in 1996 by the world-renowned make-up artist and pioneer of the 'flawless face,' Laura Mercier's time in the limelight is well overdue. Her mantra of "what makes you unique makes you beautiful" absolutely rings true, and the brand's vast collection of products serve this exact purpose - to accentuate what makes you beautiful.
#4 - Talika
Danielle Roches - a nurse in a Paris hospital during WW2 - was helping to heal burn victims when she had a revelation. During the creation of a substitute plaster (due to lack of supplies), she discovered the balm she made had a surprising auxiliary effect: it stimulated the growth of patients' eyelashes and eyebrows. In 1948 she started to market the "eyelash conditioning cream"; henceforth 'Talika' was born.
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