How to Have a French-Inspired Self-Care Night
After a long day of work or school, you deserve an evening to yourself. A self-care night is the perfect way to unwind and focus on your own wellbeing. In this post, I’m sharing step-by-step how to have a French-inspired self-care night.
What makes this self-care night “French-inspired”? It’s influenced by French women’s approach to self-care and includes ideas infused with French culture. While I was living in France, I observed how self-care was a normal part of women’s daily lives. It was about slowing down, taking time for themselves, and enjoying little indulgences here and there. This routine is inspired by this mindset towards self-care. It also features ways to “frenchify” your self-care night. If you’re a Francophile like me, I hope you’ll be inspired by the French books, recipes, products and more that I’ve paired with some of the steps below.
Although you can enjoy these French-inspired self-care rituals at any time, it might not be practical to follow all of these steps everyday. I usually have a lengthier self-care evening on Sunday when I spend a couple of hours pampering myself. However, on a typical day, I’ll choose a few of these ideas to implement in my nighttime routine. Use the information in this guide in a way that works with your own schedule.
If you’re staying in this Valentine’s Day, this pampering routine is a lovely way to spend your evening solo. Romance yourself with a glass of rosé, L’Amant, and a rose-scented face mask.
For more French-inspired content, check out these posts:
Create a Relaxing Environment
Before focusing on yourself, it’s essential to consider the state of your physical environment. Start your routine by creating a calming atmosphere and you’ll be able to more fully enjoy your self-care night.
Tidy Up Your Space
When our physical environment is chaotic, it’s easy for our minds to reflect this. Spend some time tidying up your space. Make your bed, wash any dirty dishes, fold and put away your clothes, etc. Skip deep cleaning your space if you don’t have the time, and instead focus on arranging any items out of place. If you need some extra motivation, set a timer for 15-30 minutes and clean as much of your home as you can.
Add Your Favorite Scent
Once that your space is well-organized, you can add your favorite candles or diffusers. Choose aromas that help you unwind and evoke a tranquil atmosphere. Lavender, vanilla and ylang ylang are popular scents to help reduce stress and promote calm, but you can opt for any scent that supports your inner serenity. Floral scents from Diptyque like rose and litchi are some of my go-to’s for a relaxing self-care night à la française.
Put on A Calming Playlist
The little things in your environment can make a big difference, and a light, relaxing playlist is a simple way to create a more serene space. Imagine yourself in your future Parisian apartment with this French café lounge playlist featuring jazz and pop classics. This chill and relaxing French playlist is another option with a range of more modern hits from artists like Pomme and Videoclub. You can find more French-inspired playlists on YouTube and Spotify. If you’re not a fan of French music, then classical and soft jazz are great genres to play in the background.
Dine Like the French
Taking the time to slow down and savor a delicious, well-balanced meal can help you unwind at the end of the day. The next step of this self-care night routine takes inspiration from the French philosophy around dieting to create a relaxing dining experience chez toi.
Cook A Well-Balanced Meal
Cooking your own meal can be a meditative process, so consider incorporating it into your own self-care night. Pick a nourishing recipe that you’ll truly enjoy preparing and eating. The French aren’t strict about dieting, but they do value eating a balanced diet featuring local, whole foods. For your French-inspired self-care night, why not try a vegetable-packed ratatouille, hearty lentil soup or a savory mushroom galette?
For more details on how to eat like the French, check out my post on 7 French Diet Tips To Stay Healthy & Slim.
Enjoy Your Meal à Table
If you usually eat on your couch or bed while watching Netflix, it’s time to break the habit and seat yourself at the dining table. Enjoying your meal à table can help you be more present and eat more mindfully. You’ll appreciate your food more and be able to better recognize when you’re full.
Don’t feel the need to dine on your finest china, but do set your table properly. This article details different table settings for any occasion. If you plan to really dine like the French, don’t forget to set out a wine glass too.
Although sharing a meal is an important part of French culture, dining solo for your self-care night can be an equally enjoyable experience. While seated at the dining table, put away any distractions (like your phone or computer) so that you can fully focus on your meal.
Treat Yourself to Dessert
The French aren’t afraid to indulge in little pleasures from time to time. Whether it’s a piece of organic dark chocolate or a slice of decadent lemon tart, treat yourself to your favorite dessert on your self-care night. If you want to further pamper yourself, stop by your local (French, if possible) bakery and pick up a special treat. Pistachio eclairs and kouign amann are two of my favorite French desserts that I enjoy on occasion.
Sip On A Tea or Infusion
After sitting down and fully enjoying your meal, sip on a herbal tea or infusion to help settle your stomach and soothe your throat. You can find several options made with a blend of pro-digestion ingredients like fennel, ginger and peppermint. My favorites are the Whole Foods Market Organic Peppermint Tea and the Palais des Thés Rooibos des Vahines. If you’re not a fan of digestive tea, try a nighttime tea, warm milk or even fruit-infused water. The Kusmi Lovely Night Tea is my favorite French tea to help me unwind in the evening. The brand offers several other caffeine-free teas that are the perfect way to care for your body before bed. Another one of my favorite nighttime drinks is Heméka’s La Digestive Tisane.
You can drink your post-meal beverage at the table or as you continue the rest of your self-care night. I prefer to sip on my cup of tea throughout my evening of pampering.
Adding some pampering beauty rituals to your self-care night routine will help you to look and feel your best. Take care of your body with the following ideas inspired by the effortless, French-girl approach to beauty.
Take a Long Shower or Bath
Relax by taking a long shower or bath. Add a calming bath soak or gel like ESPA’s Bergamot and Jasmine Bath and Shower Gel or the Odacité Soul Soothing Bath Soak. Even a few drops of your favorite shower gel can transform your running water into a luxurious foaming bath. Try Nuxe’s Prodigieux Shower Oil, one of my French pharmacy favorites.
Bring along your preferred soaps and scrubs to pamper your body. My favorites are the simple, yet effective Bioderma Atoderm Hydrating Shower Gel and the more indulgent Diptyque Revitalizing Shower Gel. The Artisanal French Soap Bar from Pre de Provences is another affordable way to treat yourself on your French-inspired self-care night.
Listen to your calming playlist, read a good book, or just luxuriate in a long soak. This is one of my favorite self-care rituals during the winter, but you can enjoy this kind of pampering year-round.
Apply A Face and Hair Mask
While enjoying your long shower or bath, why not apply a face and hair mask to further treat yourself? Caudalie creates some of my favorite face masks. Lately I’ve been using their Vinosource-Hydra Moisturizing Mask, which is ideal for the harsh winter conditions. If you want to upgrade your winter skincare routine like a French girl, check out my post on The French Girl Winter Skincare Routine.
Indulge your locks in a deep conditioning hair mask. My favorites are the Kerastase Nutritve Masquintense and the Rene Furterer Karité Nutri Intense Nourishing Mask, which intensely nourish dry, damaged hair. L’Oreal also makes some inexpensive, effective hair treatments like the Wonder Water Moisturizing Hair Treatment that I personally enjoy using.
Give Yourself a Manicure
Groom your nails with a simple nail care routine inspired by the short and chic French-girl manicure. Start by applying a cuticle cream to hydrate your cuticles, then use a cuticle stick to gently push back your cuticles. Wash your hands before shaping your nails with a file. Next, use a buffer to lightly buff your nail bed for a natural-looking shine.
If you want to add some polish, continue by applying a base coat to protect and nourish your natural nails. Next, add a layer of your favorite colored polish. Many French women opt for natural colors like beige or pink or brighter shades like red and purple. Finish by applying a top coat for extra protection and shine.
Treat Your Skin
Take care of your skin like a French woman during your self-care night routine. Although the French approach to skincare is quite instinctive and natural, there are some key products that you can incorporate into your own skincare.
A micellar water is a gentle way to cleanse and hydrate your skin. Although you’ve likely heard of the cult classic Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, there is a range of brands with their own micellar waters. One of my favorites is the La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water, which is perfect for my sensitive skin.
If you want a rich, decadent moisturizer without splurging on Crème de La Mer, the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré is a French-girl pharmacy favorite for less than $30. It provides incredible moisture that your skin will appreciate, especially in the winter months.
A gentle cleanser and moisturizer are two essentials for taking care of your skin, but you can boost your skincare routine with extra serums, masks and oils. Some of my favorites are the Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum, the Filorga Oxygen-Glow Super Smoothing Eye Cream, and the Vichy Liftactiv 15% Pure Vitamin C Skin Brightening Corrector Serum.
Slip Into Something Comfortable
The chic French woman doesn’t sacrifice comfort for style when it comes to relaxing at home. Wearing equally chic and comfy pieces during your self-care night will help to boost your mood and confidence, even if you’re enjoying the evening alone. Try a silk robe, cotton pajama set, cashmere joggers, satin nightgown or a casual hoodie and sweatpants. Knit loungewear sets are everywhere this season. This embroidered knit top and leggings set from Sandro is one of my favorites. Plus, they have a newer knit top and joggers combo that is perfect for spring.
Unwind With Sleep-Promoting Activities
A good night’s sleep is essential for your overall health and well-being. Spend the rest of your self-care night doing sleep-promoting activities to help you unwind before bed. Try to avoid scrolling social media, watching TV or ruminating on your to-do list, which can stress you out and negatively impact your sleep quality.
A short yoga sequence is the perfect way to calm your body and mind before sleeping. You can create your own routine or follow a guided yoga session on YouTube. This relaxing yoga flow is one of my favorites to do on a self-care night.
Although exercising is a great form of self-care, it’s not recommended to exercise less than 1 hour before bed. If you want to move your body more without disrupting your sleep, try a low-impact p.volve workout. They are less vigorous than a traditional workout, but you’ll work your muscles more than yoga. You can try this 20-minute full body routine from p.volve for free on YouTube.
Meditation can help you let go of any built-up tension and encourage you to focus on the present moment. Incorporate a short meditation practice into your self-care night. There are a variety of meditation and mindfulness apps, videos, and podcasts online to help guide you, or you can simply focus on your breathing while releasing any thoughts.
My go-to meditation app is Headspace, which offer a large selection of guided meditations tailored to your goals. If you’re not a fan of meditation, their sleep stories and music are the perfect way to unwind on your self-care night.
Writing down your thoughts can help release stress and eliminate anxiety before bed. Grab your go-to notebook and a pen and engage in some healthy self-expression. I usually write about noteworthy events in my day, my current thoughts and feelings, or things that I’m grateful for. If you’re need to journaling, I’d recommend reading this beginner’s guide to keeping a journal.
Read A Book
Avoid the urge to spend the evening on your phone, and enjoy a good book on your self-care night. Reading is a great way to wind down and help you fall asleep.
Why not enjoy a piece of French literature for your French-inspired self-care? You can find a list of French classics here and more modern French reads here. Some of my favorite French books include La Délicatesse, Bonjour Tristesse, and L’étranger. If you can’t read in French, you can always find English translations of popular French books.
For a lighter read, flip through your favorite magazine or graphic novel. If you have a Kindle or other reading device, check out Cafeyn for an endless selection of French magazines that are affordable to download. The French obsession with comic books (bandes dessinées or ‘BD’) and graphic novels was something I discovered when I first lived in France. Indulge in the country’s comic culture with a romantic read like Jeune Fille en Dior, one of my favorite graphic novels.
Thanks for reading! How to do spend a self-care night?