There’s no denying the allure of French-girl beauty; after all, it’s often associated with the word classic for a reason. But Violette Serrat—who goes by just Violette—a makeup artist and creative director for Guerlain makeup, makes it feel new again. She takes French-girl basics like glowing skin, a perfect red lip, and Jane Birkin bangs but adds unexpected details that make makeup uniquely her own—like a scatter of chartreuse glitter, blush inspired by Renaissance paintings, and graphic navy liner. It’s these touches, paired with her charming accent and easy-to-follow tutorials, that have made her a cult favorite in the beauty world all the while racking up more than 300,000 followers on her YouTube channel.
Though Violette is extremely experimental when it comes to makeup, with skin care, she’s classic all the way. “The culture we have around skin care in France is very specific,” she tells Glamour. “I think we go to our first dermatology appointment quite young. We don’t do skin care based on trends or brand marketing, I kind of became allergic to marketing, in a way. We really want to have professional advice, so either from a dermatologist or a pharmacist, because pharmacists are managed by people that went to medical school, so they are super educated. That’s really where we get our education, and so we don’t buy skin-care products except at the French pharmacy. Because even if you go to the dermatologist, they’re going to send you to the French pharmacy.”
Violette explains that like many French women, she prefers not to use makeup on her skin, so skin care is extra important. “It also goes with the lifestyle mentality that we want to take care of what Mother Nature gave us, more than trying to hide it and perform better,” she says. “Because of that, that our skin needs to be at its best, we’re pretty hard-core on taking this seriously.”
Serious doesn’t mean aggressive, though, which is both the backbone of Violette’s personal sensitive-skin routine, and her brand, Violette_FR, which offers a mix of color and skin-care products. “During the pandemic a lot of people started to dig into how we can become more our own dermatologists, and I’ve had so many people coming back to me, saying, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I destroyed my skin,’” she says. “I think I want to restore a faith in our skin. We don’t need that much. I want skin routines to feel as accessible, and what matters the most is that people are consistent with it.”
So what does she use every single day? Read on as Violette drops her routine.
I was mostly using French pharmacy products, but I was still struggling with skin inflammation. I never found the right amount of hydration and moisture to give to my skin. When I decided to launch my brand, I knew I wanted to do skin care because it’s really part of beauty for us. I can’t tell you about the French look without telling about skin, in a way.
That’s why I started to work on a skin-care product that I could finally use. We did three years of development, I worked with a brilliant chemist, and we worked on Boum-Boum Milk. Your skin needs to eat and needs to drink; this is like a beverage for your skin. It’s full of good stuff, like you have the fermented birch sap; it’s 30% of the product. The amount of the skin benefit is kind of intense. It’s harvested once a year, it’s highly anti-inflammatory, it hydrates skin immediately—with the squalene too, with the olive leaf extract—it’s rejuvenating on its own. So for me, I was trying to achieve deep hydration, nourishment, lock moisture, push cells’ rejuvenation. It protects your skin flora and microbiome. It’s a three-in-one, so that’s all I use, except in the winter. With New York heat that’s blasting on my skin and sucking out all the water, I need support.
In the morning I just rinse off my face. At night I double-cleanse with the Purito face oil; I’m obsessed with the texture—it’s incredible. I’m like, it’s not normal to be that good of an oil. I just love, love this oil. I use it on dry skin, and then when I’m done massaging, I add a tiny bit of water to start preparing the oil, then I rinse it off and use a gel cleanser. I love the one from the Nue Co. Then I use Boum-Boum Milk again.
At night on top of the milk I use a barrier cream during winter. On top of that, I use this Cerave. I have very thin skin that gets so dry, and with triple barriers there’s no way the moisture can get out. So that’s kind of what I do, honestly, because winter is violent here for me.
I use sometimes use Paula’s Choice chemical exfoliator, maybe once a week only. I don’t stimulate my skin too much. I think people are obsessed with detoxing. Honestly, your body is able to detox; your skin is able to detox. Even when you sleep at night, you are losing dead skin. When you see dust on your TV or whatever, it’s not dust; it’s skin dust. Your body knows how to do those things, but for people that have oily skin, for example, it can really help because you want to clean up the pores, etc. For me, I don’t have that issue. So once a week, max, is enough.
I just started using the Deliverance Serum from Dieux Skin, because I love this brand, and so far so good. I try to keep it consistent, because people want us experts to give feedback on skin. Like, “What do you think of this serum?” Well, I’m super reactive to everything, so I’m definitely not trying anything anymore. I am doing research. For example, for Dieux Skin, I was very interested in the serum, and I met the brand cofounder Charlotte, and she told me all about the work she’s done. I was like, Okay, I can totally trust that this is worth it.
My lip balm
I’m obsessed with Aveda Lip saver. It’s the best.
I use the I’m From Mugwort Mask, and the Honey Mask. Those did pretty good for my skin. There’s this Greek brand, Korres; it has a yogurt mask, which I also like.
I’m going to do my laser first session in two weeks, which I’m a bit nervous about, but I want to try, because with pregnancy I developed a bit of dark spots. So I’m going to try that with Lauren Abramowitz at Park Avenue Skin Solution. We’ll see if it works wonders.
For a facial, I like to go somewhere where they use Biologique Recherche because I feel like the estheticians are extremely well trained, and I really love it and think it’s the best. But usually I do my facial in Paris.