Spring is the time to evaluate one's wardrobe, hair, and makeup, anticipating travel, holidays, and the easier, relaxed approach to life during the summer. For practical purposes, many women cut their hair shorter for the warm months. Off come the tag ends of an old permanent wave and presto - a younger, more casual effect emerges, which can be hand-dried and fluffed back into shape after a swim.
Certainly a different hairstyle is one of the easiest ways to change your look (and outlook), and most leading hairdressers in Paris are advocating lightly layered or tapered effects, exposing the ears and bobbed at the back of the neck. The ''crowning glory'' of these shorter cuts is that they are also economical, as the average parisien coiffeurm charges approximately 20 francs (about $3) less for setting or blow-drying a short cut than for shoulder-length hair. Wave and control are built right into an expert cut, and the owner can usually cope with it herself, even with the current trend toward more volume after winter's sleek chignons and stylized coiffures.
Natural color is also an order of the day. With sun and salt water in mind, many French women have their hair dyed back to its own color in the spring. The spectacle of a ''blonde'' showing an inch of dark roots appears even less attractive in summer, though tipping and sun-streaking are still strong. But best to have it done professionally, as the results of a do-it-yourself job are too often disastrous.
Summer makeup is also far more natural, with pale, luminous foundations and light, creamy rouge playing up softly shadowed eyes and rosy beige lipstick. Helena Rubinstein has just launched a complete new line of summer cosmetics aptly called ''Voyage.'' Colors echo many of the subtle powdery pastels in the high-fashion ranges, featuring such enticing names as ''Rouge Shimmer'' for the cheeks and ''Sunny Sport'' lipstick in a warm beige with rosy reflections.
What fun to experiment with different colors and tonalities and discover that nothing more than a change in your habitual eye shadow or lipstick can boost morale as much as a new dress. While products from the top international firms such as Rubinstein, Arden, and Revlon tend to be fairly expensive, there are excellent lines available at the Prisunic and Monoprix chains for a modest expenditure.
Helene Curtis bills her latest presentation as Petits Prix (low price), featuring such good values as the new irridescent nacre lipsticks in four different shades at 15.80 francs (well under $3 at the current rate of exchange) and the hydrated foundation cream, which also acts as a sun filter, at 19 francs (slightly more than $3).
Brilliant, glossy hair is one thing. A shiny nose is another, and the new powders are as fine as thistledown to avoid the caked, waxen-doll look of heavier powder. Both the loose, airy grains patted on with a fluffy puff and the compact cake for quick touchups, neatly packaged in a small throwaway case, are best sellers in all the new cosmetic lines.