The rules of French beauty are well-established.
Looking after skin is key; French women famously like their foundation to be minimal, instead choosing to plough time and energy into skincare that’ll keep them glowing. Hair must be artfully dishevelled, though nonetheless expensive-looking, with buttery highlights and soft layers chopped in for that famously French insouciance. The final touch? Lipstick. Red, ideally, but definitely bold and in all likelihood, a deep, bloody grown-up crimson that stands out starkly on an otherwise practically unadorned face.
The finished look is undeniably chic, but what if you’ve tried to achieve the whole indefinable ‘je ne sais quoi’ thing and decided it ain’t for you but are still after some guiding rules to follow when it comes to beauty? Let me present an equally as beautiful but completely different aesthetic for you to ponder: Spanish beauty.
Typically, Spanish beauty borrows some elements from French, such as a healthy respect for skin and love of tumbling hair, but it’s not as scary, relying less on the sort of supreme confidence it takes to wear bare skin with red lippy and more on bronzed, burnished hues that suit everyone.
It’s a look that is also ideally suited to warmer months, when the sun is more golden, skin more lustrous, and everyone is a bit keener on playing up eyes so that lips are free to sip drinks and eat ice creams without any risk of lipstick smudges.
As part of my research for this, I contacted two of the most stylish Spanish señoritas I’ve known for a while in a bid to narrow down the rules to nailing Spanish beauty. Both Alba and Maria were very obliging and helped me to break a typically Spanish beauty look (disclaimer: obviously these are crass generalisations and not, in fact, how every single woman of Spain looks – but, based on said scientific research, it is apparently the thing over there)…
Get skin savvy
Spanish women aren’t sun-starved, and as a result, they don’t worship it in the way we Brits often do when abroad. In fact, according to Alba, Spanish women religiously take a siesta during the hottest hours of the day to skip damage, and place far more importance on dipping in the sea water for skin benefits than lounging in the sun for a deep tan. Those who sunbathe load up on SPF. And both my sources vociferously espoused the merits of religiously cleansing and moisturising, with Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz confirming that this is key to having great skin when she told Vogue that she is ‘very disciplined’ when it comes to her skincare routine.
Eyeliner, eyeliner, eyeliner!
If eyeliner is your ride or die, this whole Spanish beauty thing is right up your alley – they LOVE the stuff. As you trace your line, imagine a kind of sweep of liner across your upper lashes rather than a bolder flick. This is about making the eyes and not the eyeliner stand out. If in doubt, look to Spanish Insta sensation Aida Domenech (@dulceida) for guidance – she rocks a beautifully-lined eye with loads of mascara.
Bare Lips, por favor
The odd bit of red is fine and perfectly Spanish if, say, heading to an evening event, but by and large, this look is all about nude lips that are pouty but don’t compete with the eyeliner. To make yours look more pillowy, grab a nude liner (The Body Shop in Wood is the ideal shade), and fill with a nude lipstick like Charlotte Tilbury’s Nude Kate. Alexandra Pereira of @lovelypepa is your inspo for this one.
This is non-negotiable. Whether your hair is shorter or down to your waist, to channel this aesthetic, you have to embrace your natural texture and maybe even add a bit more of a bend to it. Crucially, it is not perfectly coiffed, with even Queen Letizia of Spain choosing to wear her caramel hair slightly messy. To get this one right, ditch your straighteners and amp up whatever your hair naturally does by misting a spray like L’Oreal Professional Techni ART Pli through damp hair and following with a texturising spray like Oribe Dry Texturising Spray.
That’s a direct quote from my Spanish friend, Maria, who said that those two are basically the Spanish way to looking rested and glowing. Also, Penelope Cruz says that she whizzes up some gazpacho every day to get a delicious kick of nutrients, so that’s probably advice worth heeding, too.