PARIS • Maintaining his boyish good looks does not come cheap for President Emmanuel Macron. Since he became France's youngest modern president in May, his office has spent €26,000 (S$42,000) for a make-up artist to be at the ready for his public appearances.
The Elysee Palace, the President's office, confirmed on Friday a report the day before in the magazine Le Point that said two bills, one for €10,000 and another for €16,000, had been sent to the palace for services provided by a make-up artist for Mr Macron.
Officials told Francetvinfo that the charges were for "external services that took place in the recent months and that were suited to the moment's urgency".
Those moments included "press conferences and visits abroad", which apparently required a make-up artist to travel with Mr Macron to promptly apply powder, toner and other cosmetics.
Since he assumed the presidency, Mr Macron, 39, has bounded on to the international stage in carefully crafted public appearances with leaders several decades older, including United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Why, but why, does a young, naturally good-looking President, who has hardly spoken on television since his inauguration, need this?" Mr Francois Heisbourg, a former government official, tweeted.
Aides to Mr Macron acknowledged to BFMTV in France that his cosmetic costs were "expensive, but less than for his predecessors".
Mr Macron's expenses recalled the controversy over the costs incurred by his predecessor, Mr Francois Hollande, who paid €9,895 a month for a personal hairdresser.
The news of Mr Macron's pricey makeovers comes as his government is scheduled to present sweeping changes to French labour laws this week that critics say could undermine workers' job security.
His decision to challenge the almost sacrosanct French labour code, and his political missteps and blunders this summer have caused his public approval rating to drop precipitously in his first months in office.
Last month, his government announced a series of unpopular austerity measures to close a US$9.5 billion (S$12.9 billion) budget shortfall, including cuts in housing benefits for thousands of students and low-income households.
Mr Macron had hoped to restore public confidence in his leadership on a tour of Eastern Europe. On Friday, he delivered a stinging rebuke to Poland.
He criticised the policies of the right-wing government of Poland's Law and Justice Party, saying it was going "against Europe's interest".
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo shot back at him, saying: "Perhaps his arrogant comments result from lack of political experience."