Former French Vogue editor, Carine Roitfeld, on her five best-kept Parisian beauty secrets at 66

From that bold black liner to her effortless cool-girl aesthetic, fashion's most formidable editor talks beauty

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"I always have a kohl pencil and black on my eyes," says Roitfeld Credit: gety

Put plainly, few are as chic as Carine Roitfeld. In many ways the archetype of the ever-enduring French girl aesthetic, Roitfeld's effortless approach to style, which saw her through 10 years at the helm of Vogue Paris as editor-in-chief from 2001-2011is as much about beauty as it is fashion. 

You need only look as far as her first self-branded product venture to see just how much this rings true. While it may seem more fitting to expect a perfectly patterned or barely-there hosiery collection from the 66-year-old, legs-obsessed Parisian icon, it is the world of perfumery where Roitfeld has set her gaze. 

"I am very sensible with scent," Carine explains, "It is a reality for me, I remember someone - my grandmother, my mother - or a moment in my life just through scent." It is this thinking which was behind the idea of her inaugural fragrance line, 7 Lovers, which launched last year. 

7 Lovers collection by Carine Roitfeld

While she may have created seven for the world, Carine considers scent the most defining style signature, the ultimate accessory, preferring a single scent above all. "It is important for me to have one smell, this is the strength of perfume. I like them strong, so that the scent stays after you have left the room and wherever you go people will know Carine was there," she says. This might explain why, long before creating her eponymous fragrance brand, Roitfeld had created a unique scent for herself by mixing Yves Saint Laurent's Opium and Orange Blossom by Serge Lutens, and stuck to it for years. 

Lockdown has left her love of scent unscathed. Though mask-wearing might have defeated the purpose of smelling good for others for obvious reasons, Roitfeld points out, "I think perfume is very selfish, you put it on for yourself. In this moment of time we all feel a bit insecure, we don't know what tomorrow is going to be, but perfume can give me confidence in who I am.

"I even perfume myself if I don't see anyone, I perfume my bed before going to sleep. So, for me scent is a selfish pleasure. And during this time, you want to feel like you, you want to feel confident in yourself and my perfume for me is like self protection."

And it's not just the allure of her sensual scents that encapsulate her free-spirited Parisian flair. These are Roitfeld's best-kept beauty secrets...

Carine Roitfeld Credit: [email protected]

It's all in the eyes

When you think of the makings of Carine's signature look, generous swipes of black eyeliner usually tops the list. "I always have a kohl pencil and black on my eyes," she says. But while most may spend a healthy part of their make-up routines trying to perfect the wing of their liner, Roitfeld prefers a more relaxed approach, "I like when it's not perfect -  it can't be anyway because I wear glasses - I think it is more sensual in a way to not be totally perfect."

She's not one to neglect her brows either. Having threaded them away to a thin line in the 70s, Carine now completely owns her ultra-full, fluffy eyebrows. "’I'm very lucky they came back, so now I try to put some oil on and protect them. Some people love my eyebrows and some don't.  Now someone in England, Cara Delevingne, has tried to steal my beauty tricks with the biggest brows too! " she jokes. 

"I've learned to like myself and I know what is good on me. I think my eyes are an important focal point and so are my legs."

Welcome rest

Allowing her body to reset is key to Roitfeld. "The best thing for your beauty routine and what is most helpful these days, is sleep. It is a beauty treatment itself." And she's been doing more of it herself since there is less to do. If getting a good night's rest is easier said than done, take a leaf out of Roitfeld's book and set the tone by spritzing your bed with your favourite scent, or using a sleep aid like The White Company's Sleep Soothing Pillow Mist, £22. 

Stick to a regular ritual

While her regime may be uncomplicated, Roitfeld is big on the art of a ritual. "This is not the time to be lazy and for beauty you need a routine. I'm very simple and I don't overdo anything, but I stick to things because you have to have rituals, it is very important these days to keep some schedule in your day."

Her focus on regularity means Carine is faithful to the products she uses and the people that look after her, namely aesthetician Hervé Herau who she has entrusted with her complexion for the past six years, though the convenience of having him live in the building next door must help, I'm sure. 

"Some say it is better to change products all the time, but I don't think so. I like to stick to things and see the progress on my skin. It works for me. People say 'oh you have great skin, you look so radiant', but it's the regularity of using these products."

Julia Restoin Roitfeld (L) and Carine Roitfeld  Credit: getty

Minimalism 

Less is more, Roitfeld says, quoting the title of her daughter Julia's online platform and meaning it. "I really follow her tricks, I follow the advice of my own daughter, she is very smart and has taught me a lot. Now I buy less of everything. Suddenly when you don't buy, you go back to what you have and find things to rediscover."

The same attitude towards wastefulness extends beyond unnecessary purchases, "I don't do a lot, I don't spend too much time with skincare masks on and I don't spend hours in front of the mirror," Roitfeld says. Washing her hair less now too, Carine has taken to her friend Sam McKnight's Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo, £19, and claims her tresses have never been so good.

Start on the inside

Beauty begins from the inside out, Roitfeld points out. "When you're nice to yourself, you're nice to everyone," she says. "Sometimes just simple eye contact and saying hello can make someone happy and that makes me feel good, little things like this change my life."

She's also kind to herself. "I try to not try too hard, you need to be cool with yourself and I'm much cooler with myself now than I was years before. It's not easy when you're getting older and you live in a world where you're working around beautiful 20-year-olds getting their hair and make-up done, but I'm not jealous of them. I'm me, I'm not perfection or young, I am the way I am and I never feel jealous about being young. In the end you cannot be the total winner, so be the winner for yourself."