Style

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

My Beauty uniform: Zoe Francois

The lovely Zoë François (aka Zoebakes) has been baking for as long as she can remember. “I was eight when I baked my first Dutch baby,” she says. “I didn’t know that’s what I was baking at the time but it was fascinating and delicious, and I never looked back!” Here she shares her current baking obsession, her favorite bath ritual and the secret to caring for her beautiful curly hair…

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

What was life like growing up?
I grew up on communes with my parents in the 60s. They were seekers for the meaning of life, and we moved around a lot — they even took me to Woodstock when I was two! There were parts that worked really well, and there were parts that were really difficult. I ended up going to 16 schools by the time I graduated from high school, and it was incredible because every time we moved, I got to reinvent myself and change my name. I never really had a permanent circle of friends, because I was always the new kid, but it helped me adapt to just about every living situation.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

What did you learn about beauty growing up?
Everything I know about makeup today I learned from Seventeen Magazine. I had a subscription and I used to hang all the covers on my walls. It was my salvation in high school because all these kids knew what they were doing, and I just had no clue. I always dressed like Annie Hall, and Diane Keaton was my fashion icon. She was it, 100%. I saw her on the street when I was in New York once, and it took me a solid two minutes to maintain my composure. She’s as cool now as she ever was.

What do your mornings look like these days?
I shower first thing, because it’s where I do my thinking — it’s sort of like my meditation. My skincare routine is very basic because I have incredibly sensitive skin, so I use Cetaphil to wash my face. After that, I use CeraVe moisturizing cream and their skin renewing gel oil, then coffee and then work. I actually like writing now, but it used to be terrifying to me, so I typically start out by baking something to get into that headspace. Baking and photography is where I get fuel — it’s the joy for me.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

What do you like to bake in the morning?
I start out by feeding my sourdough starter; her name is Stella. It’s just the right combination of zen and geeky precision to do while I have my first cup of coffee. There are few things as satisfying as creating a sourdough starter from nothing more than flour and water, then turning it into a gorgeous loaf of bread.

What does your makeup routine look like?
I never wear makeup unless I’m doing TV stuff and I have to. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I don’t know what I’m doing, so for me less is way more. It’s almost like baking — it’s a total skill to put on makeup without looking clownish! My daily makeup is eyeliner and mascara — very minimal. If I’m doing an instagram video, I’ll add some chapstick or lipgloss. My hair on the other hand, is a whole other situation.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

I was just about to ask about your hair. It’s amazing! How do you take care of it?
Other than recipes this is the #1 question I get! I got my wild curly hair from my aunt. When I was young she taught me to take care of it by moisturizing it with almond oil. I never brush my hair. I don’t even know where a brush is in my house! I wash it maybe once or twice a month with either DevaCurl One Condition or Pattern conditioner. I’ll sometimes use DevaCurl No-Poo cleanser, and every day I condition my hair with a leave-in. I usually air-dry it, but in winter it’s way too cold, so I use the DevaCurl diffuser attachment on my hairdryer to dry. Then to finish I use Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier. If I am going out for a special occasion or going on TV, I have a curling wand to tidy up some of the crazier curls. It takes some effort to tame the beast!

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

How did you start making recipe stories on instagram?
I would put up photos of things I was making and link to the recipes, but nobody was making them. I realized my stuff was maybe a little more intimidating to a home cook then it should be. It’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just that they needed the tricks to get there. Someone commented with a question once on a recipe so I said, ‘I’ll just make you a video to show you what I mean,’ and posted it to my Instagram story. I started with fifteen-second instructions and all of a sudden, it went from a few people to 200 people making the recipe.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

I have no idea what day of the week it is anymore, but I do IG Live posts on Saturdays with my son to mark it as ‘the weekend’ and make it special. I think this time in history, as strange and devastating as it is, is going to make cooks out of people. Right now people really want to learn. They have the time and necessity because they suddenly have to feed themselves. If there is a silver lining — I have to put a caveat on that because so many of my restaurant friends are suffering so greatly — it’s that there will be an education in the kitchen.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

 What is your favorite thing to bake?
Right now my entire world is cake because I’m writing a book on cake — flavor combinations, textures, techniques, cultures of cakes and what they represent — there’s a whole language of cake! It’s my obsession right now.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François

Do you have any nightly rituals?
My personal trainer recommended that I soak in Epsom salts, so that’s how I unwind and relax, especially in the cold winters in Minnesota. All other times I’ll use jojoba oil, lavender oil, or rose oil in my water. When I read in the bath it has to be something that soothes, so I go with romantic, exquisitely written food journeys — few things inspire me like traveling to eat. I take Liebling into the bath and read about great meals in Paris.

My Beauty Uniform: Zoë François Zoë and her husband, Graham, in Europe.

What’s your beauty philosophy?
For me, being natural is what my understanding of beauty is. Growing up, the women around me weren’t wearing makeup or dyeing their hair, and they were the most beautiful women to me. When I was 23, my husband and I went to Europe and we were in line at a museum and I saw a woman who seemed so old to me, and she was probably the same age I am now. She had white hair and she was the most chic, beautiful creature I’d ever seen. At that moment I was like, ‘I cannot wait to be that age!’ I’ve always wanted to be in my 50s and 60s, and since I turned 50 I’ve never felt more comfortable in my skin or in my body. It’s everything I thought it would be!

Thank you, Zoë!

P.S. More beauty uniforms and four women on going gray.

(Photos via Zoë François, Matt Lein, Sarah Kieffer, and Star Tribune.)

  1. Delfina says...

    I think it’s amazing that women are starting to embrace their bodies, skills, physical attributes and more ! and especially their aging, it’s something we cannot stop from happening, but I know society engraves onto us that we should try “anti aging creams” and “work out more- smile less so we do not get wrinkles”, all of these things we “need” to do to conform to societies aging norms, when all we need to do is embrace who we are and empower others to do the same !

  2. Agnès says...

    I’ve been following Zoe for a few days now, and she’s amazing (the tutu Pavlova?? come on!), also what a great collection of tshirts! SO please could we have a week-of outfit? (and if’s just about tshirts, it’s totally fine). Thank you so much <3

  3. Lauryn says...

    THIS is what I needed to read to not be scared of aging and she is exactly who I want to be at that age (sans baking though, because I am extremely impatient).

  4. JK says...

    Terrific profile! I’m a fellow curly girl and Zoe, if it isn’t too intrusive, may I ask: Do you wet your hair down totally every morning during your shower, presumably rinsing out some of the previous day’s product, before applying the leave-in conditioner? Or do you layer the conditioner on dry hair every morning and get your hair wet only on wash days?

  5. Monika says...

    I know this will sound bizarre, but every current photo of Zoe in this piece looks like her at a different age; sometimes younger, sometimes older. It is a wonderful thing, as I struggle with my midlife crisis at 42, in isolation with small children, to see a woman who seems every age all at once because it reminds me that I too am still my two year old self and my seventeen year old self and my 39 year old self. I think of all the times, in my twenties, when I’d think I was complimenting an older woman by saying she looked amazing ‘for her age’. I wish I could eat those words now. Zoe is gorgeous, no qualifiers, and seems like a truly delightful soul.

  6. Cora says...

    I love her! Now we need a house tour and a week of outfits!

    • Laurie says...

      Yes, please!

    • Becca Arenas says...

      Yessss!!!!!

  7. Alex says...

    I’m worried the links to these amazon Curly hair products are for a storefront that may be selling “fakes” that even damage hair per the reviews that are most recent. May want to link to an authorized dealer..

  8. Claire says...

    I have wanted hair like this all my life- so pretty!
    also now I want a list of “romantic, exquisitely written food journeys”

  9. Catherine says...

    She’s awesome!!

  10. ale n. says...

    wow, loved this one so much. her hair is a dream, and so is her style!

  11. nade says...

    Thank you so much Cup of Jo for featuring Zoe!
    She is the most beautiful woman for me, right now, no matter the age or anything, It’s just the truth.

  12. I am surprised at how much I identify with Zoe – on a whole range of levels. I feel like I just met my style icon! I need a week of outfits (or really just her favorite spots to get tee-shirts and chokers) as soon as possible please. Thank you for introducing me to her!

    • Brittany says...

      Her mom @silkoakdesigns makes the chokers! And many of her shirts are sold by her son @thftrisnow.

  13. Carolyn says...

    I love this profile and always love seeing other Zoës out in the world! My second daughter is a Zoë and is in preschool with someone who shares her first AND last name. So while she goes by her first and middle name, it’s kind of hard for the little kids. A lot of times we end up calling her Zoë Dots and the other Zoe is Zoe No Dots :)

  14. Lynne says...

    Something I’ve been experiencing, during this pandemic sheltering-in-place experience…that maybe others have too…is a freedom from, what I now realize, was a lifelong obsession with “looking my best”. I was like Jane Jetson, never going out the door without a full face of makeup, my hair done & a cute outfit, right down to jewelry. Of course it’s good to take care of yourself & take pride in your appearance…but, I also think it’s healthy to be able to run to the post office with my hair in a pony tail (a decidedly bad look for me…makes me look bald), no makeup, jeans & a t-shirt and not feel ugly…afraid I might run into someone I know (or haven’t seen in years) & be mortified. I haven’t used heat on my hair or put on any makeup for months now. I’m only shampooing & conditioning every other day…air-drying…only doing my very basic skincare. My nails are plain & short now. My outfits are designed for comfort far more than style. (hello leggings, tshirts, cardis & slippers) Think of all the time I’m saving, when I don’t spend an hour getting ready anymore. All the $ I’m saving in product (since I found out Bobbi Brown hasn’t been with her namesake line in years, I’m rethinking that too!). It’s made me ask myself…who did I get “all fixed up” for every single solitary day for decades? I’d still be doing it today, if it was for myself. My sons (who are in quarantine with me) don’t care how I look. Of course, if I looked as naturally lovely as Zoe, I’d have only worn eyeliner & mascara like she does all the time ;) I think one of the silver linings of this surreal time…besides all the wonderful ways people are creatively connecting & celebrating each other…is this newfound “beauty freedom”. It’s a beautiful thing.

  15. Lynne says...

    I feel like I’ve discovered one of my new fave people…a new style icon, but more than that. Maybe because we’re only 2 years apart in age, I recognized so many things Zoe talked about as part of my fabric…17 magazine, Diane Keaton…even Cetaphil & CeraVe, epsom salts, lavender & rose… a love of photography & baking (altho, I haven’t done nearly as much of it yet as I hope to)…coffee, statement glasses, quirky style…I have an unexplained fascination with Minnesota (giggle)…I just ordered “Between Meals” from my fave indie bookseller, because I instantly knew I’d love it. Thank you, Jo…I feel as tho I’ve just been introduced to someone who will (likely indirectly, but still…) influence the rest of my life.

  16. Kat O says...

    She has such amazing skin! I DREAM of not wearing makeup, but my skin has been breaking out ever since I moved to New York state over a year and a half ago. Eighteen months and nothing seems to help. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    • AR says...

      I’ve been using BeautyPie stuff recently and my skin is looking insanely good. Friends (including men) have commented on it. Their stuff is definitively worth a try and I know they’re responsive on email so you can ask what they would recommend for your skin type.

    • JFizz says...

      What’s your current beauty regimen? Have you seen a dermatologist?

    • Janelle says...

      I have a few suggestions based on suffering from acne for over 10 years and finally finding a solution! Morning and night I use CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser, which cleanses my skin gently, but also contains salicylic acid to help prevent clogging of the skin. I double cleanse my skin at night with this cleanser to make sure all of the makeup is washed away. I then apply La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (+), which is my holy grail acne treatment (and trust me, I’ve tried them all, including fancy ones prescribed by dermatologists that just dried my skin out and didn’t clear up acne). In addition to finally clearing my acne, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (+) even got rid of the under the skin bumps that I had had for years. It’s seriously that amazing. Don’t be alarmed if your skin purges a bit when you first start using it — it’s just getting rid of all the built up gunk. Stick with it and your skin will improve significantly.

      In the morning after cleaning my skin, I use La Roche-Posay Effaclar K (+) moisturiser followed by La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Shine Sun Cream Gel SPF50.

      Switching to mineral makeup instead of liquid foundation was also a game changer for me in terms of clearing acne. When I switched from Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation to Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation (an all natural mineral makeup), I noticed an immediate improvement in my skin. I also switched my blush and concealer to Lily Lolo’s natural products and this has helped my skin.

      With this routine, my skin is looking better than ever. I am happy with it for the first time in over a decade and am finally confident going without makeup when I want to. I hope this helps you!

    • Karen says...

      This line has been mentioned on coj before— True Botanicals. I only use one product, the Clear oil and it has changed my skin like nothing ever has. I live in nyc, used to suffer from bad breakouts, and now I don’t. I remember there was about a month where it seemed to take a slight turn for the worse, but then everything was great. You also don’t need to use much after you’ve treated your skin with it liberally for 6 month or so. Now I feel like I can use it more sparingly because my skin has “healed” from whatever it was going through. Hope this helps!

    • I use Arbonne – they have the strictest standards for what goes into their products, but they also formulate everything to the highest standard so that the products actually WORK. You could try the SuperCalm line that just came out – I have sensitive skin and it makes my skin glowy (a word I’ve never been able to use to describe my face before :P)

  17. Jacqueline says...

    I’ve never heard of Zoë François but now I’m completely enamored. What a vibrant, inspiring person!
    I’ve always struggled with this “Beauty Uniform” series because I take issue with the norm of physical beauty as something one should strive towards (a general reproach, not CoJ-specific) but this is beauty concept I can get on board with.
    Please consider profiling more individuals whose beauty lies foremost in their character, and not in their make-up arsenal.

    • AB says...

      “Individuals whose beauty lies foremost in their character”

      That describes every Beauty Uniform! Sounds like an opportunity to dive into the archives, because I think you’ll find they’re all written in this style.

  18. Colleen says...

    All sorts of (well-deserved) talk about how wonderful she is, but barely any mention of her amazing cookbooks! I never thought I’d eat bread again after being diagnosed with Celiac, but the incredible “Gluten-Free Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day” changed my life. Thank you Zoe!

    • Whoa – I was recently diagnosed with celiacs and quickly gave up on bread. All the alternatives I tried just weren’t worth it. I need to check this out! Thank you for mentioning it!

  19. Kelly says...

    Zoe is so pretty in her black turtleneck.

    I love that she doesn’t feel the need for makeup. I also love her memory of beautiful women she grew up with. Natural is nice if you have the natural beauty!

  20. Carol Wynn says...

    My favorite thing is that last paragraph about loving her age! She is so naturally beautiful. I have enjoyed her IG posts so much.

  21. Gabi says...

    That’s my exact same curly hair care routine!! It’s so exciting to see someone with the same routine, because it often feels like curls don’t really get the spotlight (and I spent all of my teenage years wishing for straight hair). Hooray for beautiful curls!

  22. Dianna says...

    Love seeing someone my age embracing it. It’s wonderful seeing someone I have so much in common with. Thanks Cup of Joe!

  23. Anna says...

    Love these snapshots into the lives of confident women who are also passionate and creative. Zoe is a great reminder that we are our most beautiful when we are fulfilled and content with who we are and make the most of how we occupy our space in this world.

    • Wendela says...

      She is a beautiful person with an inspiring enthusiasm for life. I’m a similar age and relate to a lot of this. Now I want to sign up for Instagram so I can follow her.

  24. jess says...

    Zoe, you’re the best! We all need more beauty in our lives right now, and you bring it to us with your gorgeous creations and incredible style. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your devotion to baking. And if you ever wanted to do a kitchen/house tour…I’d love to see it!

    • Capucine says...

      I…finally, a beauty story I can relate to! The no-makeup beauty story! Thank you! I’m a decade younger, but otherwise, same – my parents left their midwest roots for California and we moved seventeen times with a new school every year until I started college at 14. My early childhood was spent in an ashram community. Vegan, hyper-aware back-to-the-landers, my mother never shaved her legs, cut her hair, or wore makeup, to say nothing of heels. You were as you were born, so there was no path to pretty if you didn’t wake up that way, and of course I was the plain daughter of an attractive woman. Nowadays, I will wear a dot of concealer, mascara and if it is a fancy evening, eyeliner, and Benetint. The end. I shave my legs and bikini line, trim my armpits, and wear deoderant – and that is as radical and rebellious as I got. Makeup and hair have remained a mystery, they just never took priority – only in the last few years have I realized that, plain as I am, plainer women wear makeup and fantastic clothing and look great, so those things aren’t off limits because of my looks, but because I felt I don’t have the right to it – I would’ve needed the mom applying lipstick in the mirror to ever feel I belonged in Sephora! The closer I get to 50, the less I care whatsoever about wearing makeup at all; I walk out the door as myself, without face armor, every day, and am quite happy it’s been years since the dreaded trying-to-fit ‘office face’ phase. Thank you for including the no-makeup face in your beauty stories!

  25. Monika says...

    Beautiful women! Beautiful body, beautiful soul! Thank you for sharing!

  26. TNM333 says...

    Jeez. I almost never comment, but reading this, I seriously feel like I’ve found my North Star. In baking, beauty, aging. Thank you! I won’t say “goals”… just, how I would like to evolve on this mad planet of ours.

  27. Abesha1 says...

    Quite literally saw my dermatologist today and he recommended CeraVe cream for my very dry CA skin! I eschew chemicals wherever possible and generally only use oils and nut butters, but it is mostly water, vegetable glycerin, and coconut isolates.
    Still love my Everyday Oil, too, though!

  28. Ilona says...

    She is gorgeous and this was a fascinating read, thank you!

  29. Jean says...

    I love these beauty uniforms with older women!! I love the advice and perspective they have to give. I learn so much from their experience, not unlike when Zoe was looking up to Diane Keaton. I have sensitive skin and use Zoe’s same regimen too. She has beautiful skin so I think I’m on the right path at least in that regard. And I have to say I love her gray hair!!!

    • Jenny says...

      Bruh, she’s only 50!

  30. liz says...

    she seems so cool! haven’t heard of her but will look her up now. : )

  31. Agnès says...

    Never heard of Zod before but she seems so wamr and natural! I love what she says about the surdough! We had one in my house, called jojo, it’s really like a pet! I hope to be more like her in a few years.

  32. Mims says...

    I must be similar in age to Zoe, grew up in the 60s and 70s. I had a pair of jeans just like the ones in the photo where she is leaning against the tree. Pink denim and the pocket turn downs in grey fabric with snaps so you could wear them turned down or snapped up closed. Ah, the early 80s fashion! Did you have a pair of plastic greek fisherman sandals Zoe? Likely not, as Diane Keaton would not be caught dead in them I suspect. Did you wear painters paints in the 70s with patchwork plaid shirts?

  33. Jen says...

    I would love some recommendations for “romantic, exquisitely written food journeys”!

    • Taylor says...

      Same! Though I haven’t tired of picking up Under the Tuscan Sun when I need that verbose vegetal pick-me-up… :)

    • Oks says...

      +1000!!!

  34. Meg says...

    Zoe and her videos have been such a welcome part of our family’s quarantine! My kids tease me that I’m “fangirling” because I love Zoe’s style and skills so much. I share her love of baking and have the same curly hair (that’s starting to turn silver, too). She seems to be such a warm, genuine person. I also love her ease in the kitchen with her son– you can tell they have a wonderful relationship. Yep, I guess I have to admit….I’m fangirling!

  35. Jenny says...

    I follow Zoe on Instagram like everyone else! Such an irresistibly cool woman. I wondered if she would share about her exercise philosophy and or routine. I feel like moving your body to feel strong is such a key part of natch beaut!

    • Lynn says...

      I too would love to know this. She mentions a personal trainer… I need more details!

  36. Christina says...

    Well, she is adorable!

  37. B says...

    I love Zoë Bakes! Thanks so much for this interview! What an amazing woman

  38. Tas says...

    Finally! A beauty uniform i can relate to! Zero to minimum make up (i feel like a clown wearing anything more than a nude lipstick), sensitive skin and curly hair maintenence. And the natural woman idea – same here! If i’ll look half as gorgeous and energised as zoë does in 20yrs, i’m content (i always question myself if in 10,20yrs my lack of self grooming will have negative consequences).

    • Anon says...

      I am pushing 50 and I have been low maintenance my whole life. Rarely wear makeup except for a bit of lipstick. A little moisturizer, sunscreen (if I will actually be in the sun). Everyone thinks I am younger than I am, and honestly… I think leaving my skin alone has been one of the best things for it. No clogging pores with make up, no stretching my skin removing the make up, no stripping the natural oils with exfoliation and then putting cream on to replenish the oils I’ve stripped. I see people doing so much to their skin, and I can’t help but think… leave it alone! It will regulate itself better than you can. It will create the best oils for itself. Save your money and time, don’t buy all these products, and go out for a walk instead!

  39. Lizzie says...

    What a delight- both her style and outlook. Thank you for sharing, Zoe!

  40. Ramona says...

    I went to eight different schools and thought that was a lot! (luckily I met my now husband at the last school ;) I can relate about not having that many close friends due to all that moving. Zoe you are a lovely lady who is right with your/her soul. I loved this story in the series. 🌞

  41. Alba says...

    Love her graphic tee. Where is it from?

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Hi, Alba! It’s from her son’s website, Thftr, and part of proceeds are going to help with Covid-19!

  42. Whitney says...

    I am so tired of people feeling that it is okay to comment on a thin person’s body. You wouldn’t see an overweight chef and question why they are larger. As a woman with a naturally lean body, I am so uncomfortable when someone comments on my “thinness”. I am so much more than my body type.
    Furthermore I love to bake and I love to eat my creations. Eating dessert in moderation will not hurt you or make you fat. A healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet including treats and physical activity.
    Please stop commenting on a woman’s body thin or fat, flabby or fit.

    • Samantha says...

      say it louder for the people in the back!

    • Hannah says...

      Very thin person here, and agreed. I know that fatphobia is a far more poisonous issue in this country and around the world, and I try to keep in mind sometimes when people feel they must comment on my body they are in some way protesting or countering fatphobic rhetoric. I deeply believe that countering it is important. I also know there is a measure of thin privilege I have and enjoy. However, I really believe that these “thinphobic” comments are a symptom of the same issue– no one’s body is yours to comment on without a direct invitation to do so!! I can still remember a few comments that my close female friends have made about my weight (or lack thereof) from over a decade ago and believe me, it is still pernicious.

    • Paige says...

      Wrong! People constantly comment on those who are overweight. An overweight chef would definitely get some comments.

    • Paige says...

      Wrong! People constantly comment on those who are overweight.

    • Christine says...

      If you are naturally lean ( whatever that means), perhaps it is true that you can enjoy desserts in moderation (whatever that means). The subtext of course is that women who are not lean lack the moral fiber to eat moderately enough to confirm to societal norms.

    • Monika says...

      I had to chime in here; as someone who worked for years in a lovely pastry shop, we (the retail staff) got to eat any and all the treats we wanted, the idea being that if we ate it, we’d know what we were selling! And the truth is, when you’re around it all the time, it loses some of its sexiness. It’s not like you become piggies at a trough! People would ask us all the time about how we stayed thin working around all the treats and I’d give them the same answer; you do actually get sick of it. (My kids don’t believe me!)

  43. Lauren E. says...

    I love Zoe’s outlook on life, I love her GORGEOUS creations, and I love her beautiful family. This whole piece made me so happy.

  44. Omaya says...

    Thanks, Zoe, for getting me excited for my 50s. What a way to think about it: confidence, glamour, and happiness.

    • isavoyage says...

      YES, thank you so much Zoe. I’ll turn 50 in September, and suddenly it’s not so scarry and it could even be exciting!

  45. Sarah says...

    I love Zoe! Her instagram stories have given me so much confidence to try out recipes that I previously felt were out of my league. She seems like a beauty inside and out!

    • Jill says...

      I’m glad you posted this. My curly haired daughter was losing her hair and didn’t know why until she read about it. She switched immediately!

  46. Elizabeth says...

    Great post! I’m so happy to be introduced to Zoe. Her photo of her with her father reminds me of a favorite book: “Arcadia” by Lauren Groff, about life in a commune in upstate NY. I think COJ readers would like it.

    I have to know: how can someone bake such beautiful (decadent) things and stay so thin? What is the secret? Because I would like to bake more but because I’m the one in our house with a sweet tooth I know I will be the consumer. And as Nancy said to a pregnant Hope many years ago in “Thirtysomething:” “it’s like one chocolate chip cookie equals 25 lbs.” And I’m not even pregnant….

    • AYE says...

      Why aim for thinness versus health? There’s room for sweets and decadent treats in every diet. Self- control and balance!

    • Erin says...

      I think the majority of people who bake aren’t super thin. But because capitalism and our culture love and reward thinness, the majority of bakers with platforms, book deals, and tv shows are.

    • Kara says...

      Genetics.

    • S says...

      Just as it is impolite to comment on someone who is heavy, it is impolite to comment on someone who is thin.
      Her body type is not who she is.

    • Anna says...

      Thanks for this, S! Reminder: a quick trick for gauging whether a comment about thinness is OK is to replace “thin” with “fat” and see whether you’d still say it.

    • NH observer says...

      Elizabeth, I’m with you! While it’s possible it’s genetics, the earlier pictures from younger days (and the mention of the personal trainer) suggest it’s achieved through effort — which is totally fine! I just wish more cooks and bakers made that effort visible. Regardless, this was fun to read.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I apologize for offending any COJ readers but weight has been an issue for me as I’ve gotten older. I exercise, try to eat healthy, but I would like to drop a few pounds. I would feel better about myself and I could fit into the lovely clothes I accumulated when I did not have this extra weight. With the gain in body mass my shape has changed and it’s hard for me to find clothes that look good and fit well. If wanting to feel good makes me shallow in some people’s eyes so be it but I think there are a number of COJ readers who also want to feel attractive. If my struggle is part of a journey toward acceptance then that is the journey I am on. Again, I am grateful that COJ introduced its readers to Zoe and I look forward to learning more baking skills from her.

    • Erin says...

      Anna, what a world it would be if I could replace thin with fat in my comment above! “Because capitalism and our culture love and reward *fatness*, the majority of bakers with platforms, book deals, and tv shows are.”
      Not exactly.

    • Christine says...

      This is the reality for many if not most post-menopausal women, even if it’s not included in the #goals of younger generations. No need to apologize for your sincere comment.

    • Samantha says...

      Elizabeth, YOU are not defined by your weight, either! Comparing yourself to others won’t help you gain confidence in the body you have. You are so much more than the clothes you wear. It could be helpful for you to reframe your goal as “be healthier” or “get stronger” rather than “lose weight.” The number on a scale doesn’t say anything about you as a person.

    • Claire says...

      Elizabeth, on a very practical level, one thing that I personally find helpful is making good use of the freezer! Many cakes, cookies, cookie doughs, and so on can be frozen, which I find allows me to bake more often without then feeling like I’m responsible for eating an entire batch of something before it goes bad. (Plus, there is always homemade dessert available in the freezer on those weeks I don’t feel like baking!) Focusing on savory baked goods (biscuits, breads, etc.) might also be another way to channel some of your baking energy in ways that you can share with your family.

      Talking about weight loss and thinness can feel very fraught, but I think many of us are simply seeking ways to stay healthy and feel good in our own skin, which is no bad thing. Personally, I’m a big fan of intuitive eating, which allows me to maintain a healthy weight, but otherwise takes up very little space in my brain :)

  47. Amy says...

    “I ended up going to 16 schools by the time I graduated from high school, and it was incredible because every time we moved, I got to reinvent myself and change my name.”

    I’d love to hear some of the names she’s chosen over the years! When did she settle on Zoë, or is that her birth name? My 9yo occasionally contemplates changing her name and I’m on board to make it happen, but she’s never been ready to take the leap because she thinks it’ll be too awkward with friends who’ve known her for years.

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Hi, Amy! From Zoë:

      Zoë is my birth name

      Frazzie Bringle (My maternal grandfather, Barney Berkowitz, used to call me this and it stuck)

      Donna (I changed it at 5yo and it stuck until I was 16)

      Jacqueline (one of my dad’s gurus baptized me Jacqueline when I was about 10yo, in his attic in Westport, CT – can’t make this stuff up)

      Takashimaya (yes, I changed my name briefly at 13yo to honor my favorite department store in NYC, as one does!)

      back to Zoë (at 16 the kids at my boarding school found out my name was really Zoë and refused to call me Donna. I’m grateful.)

    • Amy says...

      That’s amazing – thanks so much for indulging my curiosity Zoë and Kim! I hope someone out there still calls you Frazzie Bringle :)

      I grew up in a small town with a small social circle, so it was hard to “reinvent” oneself. Pros and cons to that too of course, but it’s always fascinating to hear about other experiences! I considered switching to my middle name (Marie) when I left for university but never did. Mixed feelings on that still.

  48. Annie says...

    I love Zoe Francois, thank you for featuring her! <3

  49. Emily says...

    I loved this post! Had never heard of Zoe before and now I want to be her!! Love her approach to beauty and her style.

  50. K. says...

    I love Zoe. I can’t help to think each time I see one of her fabulous creations…Does she eat the cake? Cake = weight and how does she maintain her weight. Her arms are amazing. Curious indeed.

    • dean says...

      some people are just naturally thin/lean. she appears to be healthy and mentions a personal trainer, so she’s mindful about caring for her body, whatever that means to her.

      (no offense to you, but I makes me cringe when the *first* thing someone mentions about a thin chef is their weight or personal appearance)

    • K says...

      Yes Dean I can respect that. No offense taken. When I posted it I kinda, sorta thought it would be taken the wrong way. I love Zoe and admire anyone, chef or otherwise, who can bake goodies and not be tempted to eat the entire cake :-) I have zero will power in that area.

    • H says...

      I second Dean in that I hate that weight is the first thing mentioned about a woman. But in terms of not eating everything you make, I imagine part of it is just a case of habituation- if you eat something enough, the excitement dies down. So if you gave yourself permission to eat cake every single day, eventually you would want something else besides cake. I also know a lot of bakers give away their treats to friends/neighbors/etc. (according to Sally’s Baking Addiction group on FB!)

    • Samantha says...

      I’d like to add that it is not okay to comment on someones weight, if they are a chef or not. Thin or fat, a persons weight has nothing to do with who they are, and is also not an indicator of overall health.

  51. Brigid says...

    Would Zoe mind sharing where she bought her glasses? I am obsessed!

    • Amy says...

      Yes! I just came here to ask that too!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Hi, Brigid! Her glasses are from SEE Eyewear!

    • Tara says...

      Gorgeous lady, gorgeous smile, gorgeous hair and GORGEOUS frames! Thanks for asking, ladies and thanks for letting us know, Kim. Wow, Zoe just seems like such an evolved human–like one of those people who just exude light. How lovely that she shares her baking gifts with all of us! I feel better having “met” her today! Thanks CoJ!

  52. Megan S. says...

    We love Zoe in our house! My kids (3 & 6) are currently feeding a sour dough starter to have sour dough bread on Memorial Day. Thank you for all you do!

  53. Maggie says...

    I’ve never loved a beauty uniform more! I’m in my 20’s and just showed this post to my husband and said “THIS is exactly how I want to age!”. Total goals. Would love a week of outfits post from her, too! Maybe a home tour while we’re at it? Clearly developing a girl crush…

    • Sarz says...

      I’d like to second the request! :)

    • Csilla says...

      I second this!!

  54. shannon says...

    There is always something inspiring to find in the beauty uniform posts, but as a fellow mascara and eyeliner only wearing, curly haired, sensitive skinned lady, this is the one I can most identify with! I’m checking out a leave in conditioner asap as I already do the other hair steps she describes but definitely feel something is missing from my hair routine.

    The story about seeing the lady in line at the museum … swoon! I’m turning 30 in August and hope to embrace aging half as gracefully as Zoe describes.

  55. Rusty says...

    I find Zoe verrry relatable.
    Gorgeous. Quirky. Cool!

  56. slf says...

    Love this story. Zoe has a completely different background than mine but I can really relate to her beauty philosophy.

  57. Sara says...

    I love Zoe! Was so excited to see her on CoJ today!

  58. CS says...

    So inspirational! This is one of my favourite Beauty Uniforms, yet. Love her natural approach to beauty and her positive take on ageing. I’d love to sit and chat with her and hear all about her philosophy on life and ageing. Beautiful curls and beautiful person.

  59. Christina says...

    YES YES YES!!! I follow Zoe on instagram and absolutely love her presence, style, teasing relationship with her son, hair, smile, all of it. She is an inspiration! Thank you for featuring her!

  60. Annie K. says...

    I love Zoe! Finding and watching her videos during this time has been a silver lining. She pointed me to small mills shipping flour and has made me salivate endlessly. And that her teenage son helps her out- warms mah heart.

    I love that you show off a diversity of beauty routines – natural and simple is my jam, and it’s hard to reliably find mentors in this area online because so much is sponsored or there’s an agenda. I have always aspired to be a lipstick person, and am almost there- believing- I’m great as I am, a chapstick person. Thank you for helping me find role-models!

  61. Alison says...

    Zoe – Your stories and Saturday live sessions have been a tremendous comfort and necessary distraction during this very uncertain time. I am among those who have become more serious about cooking these past few months and I count you and your books as essential to my success. (My family thanks you for the blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls, btw). Thank you for putting all of your talent and goodness into the world!

  62. Alison Cooper-Mullin says...

    Everything about Zoe – from her baking to her wild hair and genuine enthusiasm- seems delightful! I loved this post!

    • Tyler says...

      Came here to say the same! Her hair is too beautiful to risk using these products!

    • Nancy Mitchell says...

      Whoa, thanks for sharing this. I stumbled across the Curly Girl guide at the library some years ago and felt like I’d finally found some help with my hair. I knew the author had stepped away from DevaCurl products but had not heard of these concerns. Good to know.

    • Rebecca says...

      Yikes. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Meredith says...

      Yes, thanks for posting this!! I used DevaCurl consistently when my hair was short; growing it out now but still like to scrunch with gel occasionally. Have people found good alternatives? Thanks for any recs!

    • Gabi says...

      This hasn’t happened to everyone…I use Deva products every day and my hair is beautiful and not falling out (I hope I didn’t jinx myself!)