The 3 Step French Skincare Routine

The 3 Step French Skincare Routine

I’m sure you know all about the 10-step Korean skincare routine that has become a global phenomenon, mainly grounded in Korea’s cultural obsession with healthy skin. The 10-step Korean skincare routine rule is basically using an oil cleanser, a water-based cleanser, an exfoliator, a toner, an essence, a serum, a sheet mask, an eye cream, a moisturizer, and an SPF. Even if with this skincare routine you’re not supposed to be doing all 10 steps every single day, I think it’s still a lot of beauty products!

If you’re not doing the 10-step Korean skincare routine, I’m sure your skincare routine is probably as complex (or even more), as we’re constantly encouraged by the beauty industry to add more products to our vanity and spend even longer in the bathroom. As a French beauty blogger, I found myself layering on multiple serums, moisturizers, tinted moisturizers, and sunscreen, and always on the hunt for the next must-have beauty product. The result is a drawn-out, increasingly complex routine that incorporates everything on my shelf—until I start seeing more redness on my cheeks and breakouts. But is it really beneficial to layer up so many products, and is it really helping the skin?

“Imagine how many chemical ingredients are in just one product — the more products you use and layer, the more chemical overload on your skin. This could potentially cause major sensitivity and can also lead to breakouts,” Vaishaly Patel explains

Honestly, I didn’t think that layering on too many products could be the culprit until I’ve simplified my skincare routine by using only 3 products. While it depends on what you’re using, too many products (and active ingredients) have the potential to counteract each other or irritate the skin. Other times, they may not absorb properly, causing clogged pores or breakouts. Loading up on specific combinations of products can make your skin especially prone to red, flaky or itchy skin that’s sensitive to the sun. For example, using multiple forms of exfoliation at once—acids, a microdermabrasion brush, and retinoids—can irritate some skin types. It’s also not just about how many different products you’re using, but the amount you’re applying.

“Overly generous application of products will increase the risk of a skin reaction,” says Dr. Kauvar

How to build the ultimate 3-step French skincare routine

This summer, on two weeks holiday to Majorque, I streamlined my skincare routine to Easyjet’s hand luggage policy and noticed how my skin looked better than ever. With only three simple products in my plastic bag (Bioderma’s micellar water, Avene’s skin recovery cream, and Avene’s Thermal Spring Water), my skin was smoother and clearer. And this experience made me appreciate how sometimes less is more, and keeping skincare simple can be just more effective as loading up on the latest essences, exfoliants, or masks.

A very simple and straightforward skincare routine can be beneficial for your skin especially if you already have sensitive or problem-prone skin (like mine). The 3-step French skincare routine is all about choosing fewer products, but ones that are of the highest quality, hardworking and with the cleanest formulations. My French philosophy is to scale back skincare to just the products that really give results. Sticking to a new minimalist approach will not just maximize your time in the morning, but it will keep your skin in check too as well as your bank account.

I’ve broken the French skincare routine to the basics that many French women follow already: cleanse, tone and moisturize. I will prescribe a morning routine consisting of toner and moisturizer, and an evening routine of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. That’s it, remember less is more! Bonus: if you want to target specific skin concerns you can add 2 extra steps: exfoliation (once a month) and using a serum to boost the benefits of your moisturizer.

4 ways I’ve changed my French skincare routine

  • I completely stopped using any type of exfoliators (mechanicals or chemicals)
  • I’m going to a facialist regularly getting a facial (extraction, exfoliation or face massage)
  • I’m trying to use only skincare with clean ingredients (check out my article on how to switch to a clean beauty routine)
  • I’m keeping my skincare routine to the basics: cleanse, tone and moisturize

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleansing may be the most important step you can take to maintain the vitality of the skin and is non-negotiable at night. Proper cleansing will not only remove all surface impurities and damage from environmental assault, but it will also help slow down the signs of aging.

Try to choose a cleanser that suits your skin’s unique needs, whether you’re oily, dry or combination. However, always choose a very gentle cleanser without industrial surfactants (sulfates) that strip and dry the skin. By doing so, you’ll make sure you sweep away makeup, excess oil, dirt and other pore-clogging impurities without disrupting the delicate oil-water balance of your skin’s uppermost barrier.


I’m currently using the Facial Cleanser by ANI Skincare, but I recommend as well the Face Off oil to Milk Cleanser by Neighbourhood Botanicals and the Miracle Waters Face Wash by Frank’s Remedies.

Step 2: Tone

I would never recommend using astringent toners which contain harsh ingredients such as alcohol or parabens and which strip skin of natural oils and leave it dry and triggering breakouts. Toner in this 3-step French skincare routine serves as a complete and important beauty step by creating a dam environment for rapid, deep penetration of following skincare treatments and restoring skin pH. In my previous blog post about French skincare secrets, I explained how I’m using rosewater as a toner. In the morning, I’m using rosewater to refresh my skin before applying any moisturizer. In the evening I like to use rosewater after having cleansed my skin with a cleansing balm in order to restore skin’s pH.french_skincare_routine_tonerI’m using the Hydrating Facial Toner from ANI Skincare. I would recommend using as well the Toning Mist by Lovegrove Essentials or the Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist by Herbivore.

Step 3: Moisturize

Moisturizing is vital to the appearance of healthy skin—even if you’re oily or acne-prone. This step allows your skin to replenish its natural storage of hydration and moisture to maintain a strong barrier, prevent water loss and maintain balance. Those with dry skin should gravitate towards richer oil-based creams and normal to oily skin types should seek humectant ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin.


I’m using the Frankincense & Sandalwood Daily Moisturiser by ANI Skincare. I would recommend using as well the Flower Of the 5 Wounds Sensitive Facial Balm by Guy Morgan or the Antioxidant Face Gel by Frank’s Remedies.



  1. Apolline
    November 4, 2018 / 9:56 pm

    Bonjour Léonce
    Comme d habitude, en lisant vos articles j apprends énormément de choses et qui me servent dans le quotidien. J’applique vos conseils et non seulement je fais des économies car je réduis l’utilisation de produits mais en plus ma peau est devenue éclatante.
    Merci léonce

  2. Lenka
    March 28, 2019 / 9:55 am

    Dear Mathilde,
    thanks to your blog I decided to completely change my skincare routine. Everything is clear/understood and slowly I have selected the products I buy, but I am just confused about one thing – cleaning. Could you please explain to me…All I need to do is remove make-up with the micellar water from Bioderma or is it good after make-up removal make my skin “clean” with any of the above products (for example Miracle Waters Face Wash or Caudalie – Face foam)?
    Thank you very much for your help!

    • Leonce Chenal
      March 29, 2019 / 8:59 am

      Thank you so much Lenka for your comment 🙂 About cleansing, it depends on your skin type/condition and the type of makeup you’re using (high coverage foundation for eg). Bioderma’s micellar water is excellent to remove any type of makeup and all impurities, I will recommend to rinse it with a mist of thermal water (or tap water). If you feel your skin is “clean” enough just by using this product, it’s fine and you probably don’t need to use another cleanser. If you’re using a high coverage foundation and more makeup than usual, in that case, you might need to double cleanse. If your skin is oily and prone to acne, you might need to use a specific cleanser in addition to your makeup remover. I hope that will help you 🙂 xoxo

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