Without Googling it, how old do you think the French actress Marion Cotillard is? In a recent survey, most women suggested 35 years old. Cotillard is in fact 41. According to the survey, which was conducted by online retailer Escentual.com, on average a French woman looks 1.35 years younger than British women for every decade.
This equates to 3.4 years younger by the time Brits hit 40 and 4.8 years at 50. Vanessa Paradis was assumed to be 37 rather than her 44 years. Overall, 86 per cent of British women felt that their French counterparts age more gracefully.
But why do French women look so young? "The main reason is that they start their skincare regime younger and regularly use good quality products to prevent the effects of ageing," says Emma Leslie, beauty editor at Escentual.com. Leslie's comments are backed up by the figures too, as French women spend over £1.9 billion (NZD$3.4 billion) every year on anti-ageing product, which is twice as much as Brits.
It's not just money either, French women spend twice as much time on their skin every day. "They are taught by their mothers from their early teens to always spend time to care for their skin and to use good quality French pharmacy skincare products," adds Leslie.
So, how can we up our game? Here are five simple tweaks to make to your skincare routine ...
1: Keep your skincare succinct
Cleanse, tone and moisturise is the three-step routine that Clinique invented decades ago, but it's still as relevant today. While a good quality serum will improve your skin, don't overcomplicate your routine with multiple products. Opt for a simple but effective cleanser that doesn't leave your skin feeling tight or dry afterwards. If you have oily skin make sure your toner gently exfoliates and if you have naturally dry skin, go for a hydrating essence. Your moisturiser locks-in moisture, so even if you opt for a light lotion it will help create that seal and ideally one with SPF.
2: Invest in your serum
While French women might pick up their cleanser and moisturiser in the pharmacy, they spend money on their serum. With more sophisticated formulas, serums can penetrate deeper into your skin and help to fend off lines and wrinkles. An antioxidant serum will help counteract the ageing effect of free radicals in your skin.
3: Don't forget your decolletage
While we might only take our creams and serums down to our neck, or sometimes just our jaw line, French women look after their chest too. The skin around your neck and decolletage is thinner than your face so this is why the area need not be ignored. The late writer Nora Ephron once famously wrote: "Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth".
4: Incorporate massage
Facial massage is a technique championed by dermatologists and facialists alike. By employing circular movements, you boost your circulation and achieve a healthy flushed glow, as well as firming and plumping your skin over time. Incorporate the technique into your evening routine when you're cleansing, or applying a face oil.
5: Don't rely on foundation
In general, most women are more willing to invest in a foundation to smooth over imperfections rather than spend the time on their skincare regime. French women approach their skin from the opposite angle and when it comes to make-up they tend to prioritise mascara and lipstick. While it's tempting to pile on the foundation, even the most refined formula can still sit in your lines and wrinkles, which only emphasises them.