Nadia Josse is the epitome of true French girl. Although she was born in New York City, she moved to Paris at the age of two and was raised between Paris and St. Tropez (wait, really?!). Now, that is chic. She moved back to New York in the summer of 2010, worked at Karla Otto and then was scooped up by a very well known, yet unnamed French luxury brand, where she currently works in public relations. I sat down with Nadia – who, as you can see, possesses that true Parisian je ne sais quoi – to get the inside scoop on everything French. From St. Tropez to Paris, Nadia is proof that you can take the girl out of Paris, but you can’t take the Parisian CHICNESS out of the girl. You want to know the art of French beauty? Here it is.
Annie Atkinson: You were raised between St. Tropez and Paris. This is quite unique…tell me a bit about your upbringing and what it was like growing up between two of the most fascinating and influential cities in the world.
Nadia Josse: St. Tropez was amazing when I was a kid. It really felt like a small village with all the perks of a big city. I would walk everywhere, we would go to the market on the weekends (beautiful farmer’s market “Le Marche” on Place de Lices), I would always be outside playing in the garden or at the beach. I think it really changed a lot since we first moved there. But to be honest we would leave in the summer when it was very crowded and go somewhere else, like Tunisia where my mom is from. St. Tropez is really amazing in May and September during Les Voiles de St. Tropez. It’s a very different crowd… And growing up in Paris was just a dream… but you don’t realize it until you move to another country.
AA: When it comes to beauty, what are some of the differences between women in St. Tropez and women in Paris?
NJ: In terms of beauty I wouldn’t say it’s that different, except that Parisian girls are not very well known for their tan compared to St. Tropez But the style is very different. Way more sober, simple in Paris. In St. Tropez it’s a little more colorful, beachy just because climate is different. Think Brigitte Bardot in the 60’s, blonde hair, golden tan, a pair of K. Jacques sandals and a little straw basket!
AA: You are a Parisian living in America. What are some of the differences between the French and American approach to beauty and skincare.
NJ: French girls wear less makeup I think… or at least during the day. Actually I know so many French girls that don’t ever wear makeup or just a tiny bit of mascara and lip gloss. When they do it’s very subtle you can barely see it. But we’re as obsessed as you are with skincare in general. I love the fact that American girls always look very “put together” in every circumstances, yoga class, Starbucks in the morning at 8am, office, after work drinks… perfect hair, make up…. Our products in France are pretty different too, we use a lot of brands that are sold at the pharmacy like Avene, La Roche Posay, Bioderma. Some of them you can find at Duane Reade but nothing compares with the French Pharmacy!
AA: French women celebrate their imperfections…take Vanessa Paradis’ gap for example. What is it about French woman that gives them this confidence to never take their beauty for granted?
NJ: It’s part of the French beauty standards and culture to embrace imperfections. Vanessa Paradis is a very good example but I would also add Laetitia Casta, she’s not the skinny model with perfect teeth but to me she is sexy, sensual, very “nature” as we would say in French and that’s what makes her so different from everyone else. The same goes for Charlotte Gainsbourg or a Marion Cotillard.
AA: Are there any products you simply cant live without? What are your essentials?
NJ: Sunscreen! Clarins and Avibon those are my two ultimate essentials! I would also add black soap from Morocco and the scrubbing glove I buy from Tunisia (my mom is Tunisian)! I use both once every two months on my body to take off all the dead skin. I do it in a hammam when I go back to Tunisia. It’s the number one beauty secret for a soft and healthy skin! If you can’t go to a hammam just stay in a very hot bath for 30 minutes – then apply the black soap and rinse with very warm water and start scrubbing. You’ll literally see dead skin peeling off your skin. It sounds gross but it’s really worth it. After, simply rinse yourself and apply a lot of oil for moisture – then if you really want to do it the Tunisian way…have a mint tea and pistachio pastries – and take an nap! If you go to Paris check out Les Bains du Marais.
AA: What are the top beauty secrets of French women? What is their secret?
NJ: I think that the main thing is to not try too hard. Take a Catherine Deneuve. She just looks amazing and always good for her age. She doesn’t try to look younger. She’s just chic, simple, beautiful… But also I would add:
1. Sleep.. and a lot of it. I love to sleep and nap, at least I used to before I moved to NYC, where people NEVER stop! I think it’s so important for your body, your skin and your mood…
2. Eat your veggies and fruit. In France it’s a normal thing to have veggies and fruits at every meal and you can see the difference on someone’s skin and body! And also you eat at home a lot compared to the US, it’s just the way it is and part of the culture to cook and eat at home. Sit down and take time to eat and enjoy.
3. WATER! WATER! WATER!
4. Cigarettes and Red Wine!! Joking of course.
AA: The French pharmacy. OK…at this point I could write a book on my obsession with French pharmacy finds. What is so special about the French pharmacy and what are your favorite products. Describe everything!
NJ: It’s my favorite part about going home! I have to go there and re-stock on all the best products they have. The best one in Paris and cheapest is in Saint-Germain-des-Prés on Rue du Four. I would go in the morning on weekdays otherwise it’s so crowded and you can’t focus!
Here’s a list of must HAVES!
1. Lingettes Crealine H2O Bioderma – best for traveling. I take them everywhere. They are super refreshing, don’t clog pores like most of the regular brands and are super easy on the skin. I keep one pack in my office whenever I need to refresh my face if I have to go out to dinner or a cocktail straight from work. You can also use them to remove eye makeup.
2. ATODERM is the BEST body cream ever! Also from Bioderma (which by the way, every single product/line from this brand are amazing!). It absorbs very quickly. Leaves your skin soft and glowy and doesn’t stick. I use it after my shower every day. I buy three bottles every time I go to Paris.
3. Avibon – The best kept secret. I know Gwyneth talked about it on Goop. This cream has the same texture as Vaseline. It’s pure vitamin A – I use it EVERYWHERE. For makeup to give a dewy look. I apply it last on my nose (the brim) and my cheeks and sometimes I mix it with the Nars Luxor Luminizer. You can also use it on your lips, scars, or in the winter when your skin is very dry. Plus it’s super cheap.
4. I always buy this body oil from Sanoflore – It’s organic (In France we say BIO!) and it smells so good. It’s perfect to put on at night after the shower. It’s called Huiles des Delices!
6. Eau Micellaire Avene – A classic – you can find it at Duane Reade. I think the water in NYC is not really the best for my skin, so after I take a shower or I clean my face I always spray this on my face. It makes a big difference.
7. I also LOVE this brand called Oenobiol. It’s amazing, they have all kind of supplements for your body/skin and you can really trust them, they have been around for years! I always buy a few packs when I go to Paris. The best one is Oenobiol Solaire. It’s little capsules that you take everyday for one or two months before and during your vacation or even just in the summer. They have it for fair skin people like me. It helps you tan, protects your skin, and helps you KEEP your tan!
8. NUXE Huile prodigieuse – It’s just the best smell ever. It smells like vacation! I also bought the perfume.
9. Lait Creme Concentre – Embryolisse – It’s perfect for the winter – I wouldn’t recommend it in the summer, as the texture is a little too heavy especially if you tend to break out – but it is perfect for dry skin.
10. Stick a Levre Amilab – It’s a chapstick. You’ll be addicted to the smell and it’s amazing for dry lips. I buy it in bulk!
NJ: I have to say my routine changed a lot since I moved to New York. Just because everything is so different, the climate, the food, the stress level! My skin changed too. In the morning I spray Eau d’Avene to wake up! It feels so good! Then I put a little bit of Crealine lotion from Bioderma on a cotton bad and clean my face and then spray more Eau d’Avene to rinse it off a little. I don’t think it’s good to let it dry on your skin. After I apply an AMAZING serum from Bakel. It’s a brand I discovered at Space NK and they use very little ingredients to their products but they are the best quality – it’s called the Deep Hydration Serum and has only two ingredients which are aqua/water, Sodium Hyaluronate = Deep hydration. You massage it on your face until it completely absorbs and then you can apply your cream. I love the day cream from Ole Enriksen called Truth Revelaved Vitamin C super cream! I like the smell of orange and it gives a nice boost to your skin in the morning with the Vitamin C. Since it’s only SPF 15 I usually apply sunscreen on top no matter what, winter or summer. I put the Clarins UV Plus Day Screen SPF40. I have one in my bag too just in case. After I use a tiny bit of foundation just on the areas where I need a little coverage around the nose, chin and forehead – I love Chanel Perfection Lumiere. It stays all day, it’s very natural and doesn’t dry your skin and it gives a nice glow. After I use CLE de Peau concealer – it is just the BEST concealer I’ve ever tried. Don’t be discouraged by the price – it just lasts SO long and you can use it to hide imperfections and this will literally stay on the whole day.
After, I use a little of Kevyn Aucoin Fushia Cream Blush on my cheeks and nose area. It looks like you just spent a day at the beach and you only need a little bit of it to achieve a nice effect. Then I use two products that I mix together: Nars Luxor Luminizer Stick + Avibon Cream. I put a little bit of both in my hands and then mix it all together and apply it on my cheeks, nose and around the eye area. It gives you a dewy, glowy look!
At night – I use the Clarisonic with Detoxfying Boscia Black Cleanser – I love this product! It heats up on contact with skin to open and unclog your pores! Then Eau D’avene and once my skin is dry, I use the Bakel serum and the CURE Cream from Natura Bisse. I’ve been using it for a while now and I’m really obsessed.
If I see that my skin needs a little boost of color (I am SUPER pale in the winter) I apply RODIAL face tanner before I go to bed. It’s the best thing ever and doesn’t clog your pores and gives you a nice color when you wake up. Honestly all of their tanning products are really really good and don’t smell…which is a HUGE plus!
Once a week I do a mask – I switch depending on the season and my skin. If I break out I use Clark’s Botanical Intense Radiance mask it has clay in it which is perfect. OR REN, if my skin is really really bad especially after a flight I usually break out big time. This mask can also be used just on the pimple. It’s really a miracle product because you’ll wake up the next morning and the zit will be practically gone.
If my skin is just tired from a very intense week of going out I use REN Radiance Renewal Mask and after 10 minutes your skin looks glowy, and rested! I also have the AHA serum from the same line – you can apply under the mask to intensify the effect. I love the fact that it tingles a little bit when you put it on that way I know it’s working! Don’t use it on irritated or dry skin and make sure you moisturize your skin BIG time after that!
AA: Recently, I have been making an active decision to use more natural and organic lines like Tata Harper, Rahua and RGB nail polishes. What are your thoughts on natural makeup and skincare?
NJ: I think we are slowly getting there…I’m now way more conscious about products and I usually really like when I know what is in it so for sure I’m always happy when I see that it’s Paraben free or no perfume. The “all natural products” are getting better and better but I’m not 100% all natural and organic. I use Dr. Hauschka Almond Soothing Body Wash that I LOVE – I actually love all the products but the face ones are a bit to heavy for my skin so I only use the body line. I also like WELEDA – the Rose Body oil – it smells so good and is perfect for dry skin. I just apply it at night and I wake up in the morning with a soft baby skin!
AA: If I had to describe your signature look, as one would expect, it would be dynamic, unpredictable, maintained, chic, and above all classic French. Your skin is clean and luminous, with minimal makeup and a bold red lip. In your own words, describe your go-to look, from a fashion and beauty perspective.
NJ: I really like red lipstick! My two favorite colors are NARS Scarlet (it’s a dark burgundy/pink) it’s super sexy and DIOR Rouge Favori (752) that I discovered on a very beautiful French lady when traveling for work. I had to ask her the color of her lipstick and I went to buy directly at the airport :-). When I wear lipstick I usually try to have a less sophisticated look, so I’ll wear cropped black pants (I love current Elliot or Isabel Marant), a pair of Lanvin flats and a nice perfectly cut tee shirt (T by Alexander Wang or J Crew). And the number one rule – NO EYE MAKE UP when I wear lipstick or just a tiny bit of mascara. At night, I also keep it simple but will add a pair of heels…and then lipstick is a must! If my skin is tired (aka I am tired and should stay home and not go out), I use Clarins Lisse Minute Base Comblante before I put my make up – it’s really amazing and give you a fresh/ soft looking skin the entire night! And I spray Datura Noir from Serge Lutens. It’s my favorite smell on earth!
NJ: I recently just cut my hair and I’m really happy, it’s so much easier. I usually get highlights whenever I travel to Paris. I go to Massato in the 8th Arrondissement and they always do an amazing job. Arnaud takes care of my hair cut and it lasts for six months! He’s really the best. I wash my hair twice a week and I’m not really loyal to one brand. I really like Aveda – so normally I’ll use the COLOR Preserve line (shampoo and conditioner) + I love DAVINES hair mask for color treated hair – it’s really good and smells amazing. If I was living in France I would still use Kérastase – their products are just unbeatable but they are 2 times the price here in NYC! If my hair need a little volume/boost I use dry shampoo – the best one I’ve ever used is actually the cheapest, Batiste from Duane Reade! I have to have a bottle at home! My roommate is now addicted because of me. We were thinking about buying 10 bottles just to make sure we never run out of it 😉
AA: Treatments. What is the French approach to treatments and facials? Do you see a facialist or a dermatologist? If so, who, how often and what do your appointments consist of?
NJ: Whenever I go to Paris I go directly to my dermatologist and I do a facial there. She knows my skin and does an amazing job – it’s very simple and it’s just a deep cleansing of my face and extracting any dark spots or bacteria. But if I need a good facial or massage I go to YELO spa – it’s right next to my office and it’s just AMAZING! As soon as you get there you feel relaxed. The staff is so nice and the massages are BEYOND words.
AA: Tell me a little about your diet and how you feel its affects you inside and out. What are you thoughts on green juice and cleansing? Do you juice or cleanse on a regular basis?
NJ: I’ve been juicing everyday for the past two years and I can’t live without at least one green juice a day usually at lunch time – I love going to the juice press. My favorite juice there is Love at First Sight or Mother Earth. I also think they have the best Kale Salad! I don’t eat meat but I’ll have fish or seafood. I’m really careful with what I eat and practically never have processed/packaged food but if I crave something I’ll just have it. I try to eat organic, fresh and clean food as much as possible and I avoid gluten too. I feel more energized this way. In France you don’t really think about what you eat just because everything is natural, not processed and the portions are way smaller. No matter what you eat there you don’t really gain weight it’s very weird. In New York there’s food everywhere and all the time! It’s hard but you get used to it and you learn how to adapt. So for me juicing is a really good thing. But the most important part is to enjoy yourself and not think about it too much.
AA: What is your fitness routine? I know French women are all about the walks. Do you find yourself adapting a more American approach when it comes to fitness, such as classes and more classes?
NJ: I never really worked out before moving to NYC – French people are not that into gym and fitness, even if in the past two years it changed a little and we’re becoming more like the US. I started yoga (Vinyasa) a few months after I moved to NY, at Jivamukti in Union Square and after the first class I knew I was never going to stop. I don’t really consider this as a workout. Of course it’s great for your body but it’s more than that. You become more conscious, more calm. It really changed my perspective on life in general. It’s a good break from all the craziness in NYC. You just go there and breathe! I try to go three to four times a week but I go for sure on the week end, I just need it.
AA: Where do you find beauty and fashion inspiration?
NJ: Everywhere! In the streets, magazines and blogs! I’m a big French Vogue fan, I love their beauty pages…so interesting! I love to read French magazines on my iPad on the weekends. I just miss it so much.
Nadia was shot at one of her favorite little spots in Soho, Vin et Fleurs, wearing an Isabel Marant Etoile dress and a Celine bag (obvi).