Carine Roitfeld Never Fully Takes Off Her Makeup

The legendary French fashion editor breaks down her very French beauty routine.

The One and Only
Paolo Roversi

On Monday night at the CFDA Awards, Carine Roitfeld received the 2019 Founder’s Award, an honor reserved for fashion’s biggest and most influential names (past recipients include Pat McGrath, Oscar de la Renta, and Bethann Hardison). Roitfeld is the latest contemporary icon to receive it: She spent 10 years as editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, launched CR Fashion Book and CR Men’s, and styled some of the industry’s most famous shoots. Most recently, she also launched her first beauty endeavor: Carine Roitfeld Parfums, a collection of seven genderless fragrances. “I’ve always thought of scent as the most defining accessory,” Roitfeld says. “It can tell the world who you are and how you identify yourself. When I set out to create my own product line eight years ago, developing a collection of fragrances is what came to me naturally. I conjured a character and fantasy with each scent that tells a story.” Here, Roitfeld shares her own beauty must-haves, including the ins and outs of her signature French look.

What are your favorite go-to beauty products?

I use what people send me, I don’t have a special brand. I’m lucky to have Tom Pecheux from Saint Laurent or Lucia Pica from Chanel who send me a lot of amazing products that I use in my daily routine.

What is your signature scent?

Even when I’m not going out, I need to wear one of my perfumes. I usually alternate among all of them—I love the collection. It was very difficult for me to stop wearing my previous perfume when I started making my own scents, but I love that I can wear all of them. There’s no better moment to wear one or the other, never. It’s usually about which one I have in my bag at a particular moment.

What defines a French beauty look?

A touch of discretion.

When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do?

Every morning, still in bed, I listen to 10 minutes of this app for meditation called “Pause,” and it makes me feel better for the entire day.

What is your nightly bedtime beauty routine?

I only use the products of Hervé Herau, my one true routine, which I never stray from. His face and body care collections are truly one of a kind.

What is the best beauty trick you have picked up on set?

You have to try different looks. It’s the best way to find out if you like something. If you don’t try, you’ll never know! My friend Tom Pecheux tried electric green eyes on me and I hated it, but now I at least know what I like and don’t like. I also use my fingers for everything. I like that it looks not-so-fresh, not-so-done. It’s the personality of my makeup. I follow Liz Taylor’s trick—doing your makeup before taking a bath.

What is your favorite shade of lipstick?

I don’t wear lipstick.

What is one beauty item you recommend everyone buy?

My staple is a black eye pencil.

What is your go-to beauty look for a night out?

I like to wear black eye makeup to draw attention to my eyes and brows, which are my best features. I taught myself how to do my makeup in a way that is very specific to my personality and style. It’s that look you have when you sleep with your makeup on and wake up the next morning with it on your eyes. Even when I remove it, there’s always a bit left.

What is your ideal spa day, and where?

It would be the Shibui Spa at The Greenwich Hotel. The place in itself is truly relaxing and they have exceptional massage therapists. It’s a haven that makes you want to stop running around and just take some time for yourself.

What is the biggest skin-care rule you abide by?

I’ve been using the face and body treatments by Hervé Herau for five years. I go to him maybe once a month, and only use his products. He recently created some products for the body too, and I use them as well. I’m happy—they’re all in black glass containers, just with his name.

What is one treatment you’re afraid to try?

Cryotherapy. I dread cold places!

What is your favorite form of self-care?

I love ballet—I started doing ballet about 10 years ago, not to be a ballerina, but I think it’s a great thing for your body, keeps you in good shape, and gives a very good posture. I think what makes a woman look old is not her wrinkles, it’s the way she carries herself, the way she’s standing, and I always saw that in all my older Russian teachers, this ability to have a great posture. That’s what I want.

I now have also recently discovered boxing. It makes me happy and puts me in a very good mood, and my teacher and I recently discovered how great it is to box while listening to loud classical music. Bach, Beethoven, Chopin… I love the contrast. It’s surprisingly invigorating!

What is the worst beauty trend that you’ve participated in?

Amidst globalization, trends are becoming worldwide, so it’s important to take a unique approach to what the industry has to offer. Be yourself in the middle of it all; neither fashion or beauty should be try-hard. Your clothes should highlight something that you like about yourself. My eyebrows and legs are my best features, so my wardrobe contains mostly fitted clothes.