When I first moved to Paris from New York three years ago, my hair was quintessentially American: Straight, long, and blonde, with a set of razor-sharp bangs. I was proud of my look, which I quickly realized stood apart from my French counterparts.
As I casually studied women’s style on the street, however, I began to have a new appreciation for French-girl hair. The short and sassy bobs and just-out-of-bed mussiness screamed empowerment and liberation, all while looking impossibly chic and put-together.
After about a year in my new home, I began experimenting with my hair to see if I, too, could achieve similarly effortless style. I went red. I grew my bangs out. I cut my hair shorter. I stopped highlighting my hair altogether.
Today, I’ve combined the best of both worlds. I’m back to my signature bright blonde shade—paired with a classic French dry-and-go bob. My hair has found its match.
Ready to go French? The good news is you don’t have to live or even travel to the city of light to ditch high-maintenance hair trends for a more neutral hue and easy-to-style haircut. We spoke with L'Oréal Professionnel artist Alexa Joly about how to get perfect French-girl hair.
What is French-girl hair?
French-girl hair is effortless, natural, and chic, says Joly. It’s fresh and light, yet it screams sophistication and confidence. Most importantly of all, it always looks like an afterthought: French women seem like they were born with the perfect subtle balayage or bedhead wave, no styling required.
How To Get French-Girl Hair
French-Girl Hair Color
One thing you’ll rarely see on the streets of Paris: pink, blue, purple, or otherwise original hair color. (Homogeneousness is one thing I’ve come to not appreciate in French style).
Parisian women’s hair looks like it’s never seen a drop of dye. Yet in my experience, they highlight their hair just as much as Americans.
For the French girl’s au naturel look, opt for neutral shades of blonde, red, and brunette that are one or two levels lighter or darker than your natural hue, suggests Joly, with strategically-placed pops of color throughout the hair.
“Don't underestimate the power of five perfectly placed balayage pieces to make the strands around your hairline pop and provide a frame for your face,” Joly says. She recommends L'Oréal Professionnel Vitamino Color A-OX Shampoo and Conditioner system to help maintain your color.
The French are famous for their blunt cuts — but it’s far from the only trendy French-girl chop. There’s plenty of French-girl inspiration for every hair length: chin-length bobs, blunt bobs with bangs, choppy lobs, curtain bangs, and long layers.
Keep your color subtle to perfect the look. “If you have a stronger haircut shape, keep the color more natural or monochromatic,” Joly says. “If your shape is softer, you can amp up the color.”
The best thing about the French girl look: It saves you time. French women rarely reach for hot tools. Pull your hair back in a messy bun or ponytail and you’re out the door.
“French-inspired hair is all about effortless elegance. You want a combination of products that maintain your look so you don't have to,” Joly says.
To create effortless French-girl texture, try L'Oréal Professionnel Next Day Hairspray. The micro-propelled dry finishing spray transforms hair into next-day disheveled looks with a discrete and natural touch.
The Best French-Girl Hair Looks
Apply a few spritzes of texturizing spray, allow your mane to air-dry, and bedhead texture is yours. Try Shu Umera’s Texture Wave Texturizing Spray, which contains minerals to create a matte finish that’s perfect for second-day hair, with volume at the roots and flexible hold.
Choppy French Bob
The secret to effortless French-girl texture? Layers! Ask your stylist for a chin-length bob with choppy layers. If you’re into bangs, keep them piece-y to tie the look together.
Nothing makes a statement like a razor-sharp bob that hits your jawline. Add bangs for the ultimate French movie star look.
Good hair day by @kailaestrada.
Bob with Bangs
If you’ve got naturally straight hair, blunt bobs are sleek and stylish with minimal maintenance—and nothing screams the French-girl aesthetic like a slightly longer blunt bob with bangs. Soften up by keeping your length a bit longer and adding a few choppy layers.
Good hair day by @hairbykatlin.
There’s a reason lobs—a.k.a. long bobs—have been the reigning haircut of millennials: They’re a cinch to style and work on every face shape. Choppy lobs sit at the collarbone or brush the shoulders and incorporate wispy layers for movement and texture. Add beachy waves for that oh-so-French “I just rolled out of bed” look.
Good hair day by @lottaliinalove.
We have the 1970s to thank for curtain bangs—longer bangs parted in the middle to frame your face on the sides. A wispy texture creates a laid-back vibe. While curtain bangs work with every hair texture, they’re best for tapering round or square face shapes.
Good hair day by @babette_its_me.
Layered cuts give longer hair breezy volume and texture. Long layers are best for elongating a pear-shaped face—i.e. a narrow forehead and strong jawline. Ask for square or horizontal layers for a choppier texture.
Good hair day by @ari_themermaid.
Subtle, Disheveled Highlights
Add dimension with subtle caramel highlights on chocolate brown hair to amp up your hue and softly frame your face. The secret to a natural look is a rich blend of light and dark tones to create believable contrast. Babylights help achieve a natural look on brunettes and redheads; balayage is a good choice for blondes.
Good hair day by @antoniopruno.
The messier, the better. The key: texturizing spray. Start by brushing your hair smooth, then give it a spritz. Gather the strands in a ponytail, keeping a few low strands loose, and wrap hair around the base. Secure with an elastic. Voila!
Good hair day by @iammarielozano.
Undone Low Ponytail
AIt looks like you just slapped on a hair elastic—and it takes just slightly more work. Spritz your hair with texturizing spray, then tease with a comb for volume. Pull into a ponytail, leaving a few face-framing strands free.
Simple Half Updo
French-girl hairstyles might be simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re boring. Loosely twist long hair in a half-up hairstyle for a French-girl look that’s effortlessly beautiful.
Good hair day by @studioehair.
If you do pick up a curling iron, keep it quick and to the point. A tip from my stylist: Section your hair in large (3-inch diameter or so) sections, curling the strands around the iron for a few seconds. Move from bottom to top, front to back, all the way around your head. The whole process should take five to 10 minutes max—seriously! Finish with a texturizing spray.
Interested in French-girl hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.