Getting ready for my trip to Paris, I was the excited only not about attending all the fashion shows and finally seeing the most beautiful city in the world, but also about exploring local pharmacies. For years, I’ve heard about beauty gems that are only available at French pharmacies so I was ready to immerse myself into makeup and skincare shopping.
However when I arrived at the “Motherland of Chic” (that’s how I secretly started calling Paris), I was somewhat disappointed with the selection of cosmetics available at the local beauty shops. Maybe because I’m spoiled from living in New York City where most European brands have their presence, but I felt that there is only a limited number of beauty products that were worth bringing home through the ocean.
Today, I rounded up the list of 7 beauty products that I stocked up on while in Paris with the explanation of why these French beauty products that are worth your attention.
#1: NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Oil
As of lately, this iconic French oil that I started using a few years ago is no longer available in America. So, if you are also a fan of this nourishing dry oil for body, face, and hair, definitely stock up on it while in France. I still have an extra bottle of NUXE Shimmering Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse OR at home (it’s perfect for applying on legs and arms for photo shoots) so this time I picked just a classic version of this cult oil (it’s called NUXE Huile Prodigieuse). If you search through a few pharmacies, you might get lucky and find the same oil in different limited-edition packaging (like polka dots or a special print).
How to Use: Apply on your legs to make them look more polished and shiny in photos. Use on the temples of your cheeks to create a signature Parisian glow (read this post to learn How to Do Makeup Like a French Girl). Apply on face, hair, or body to deeply moisturize skin.
• NUXE Huile Prodigieuse is a classic dry oil formula.
• NUXE Shimmering Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse OR is dry oil that contains shimmering pieces.
• Don’t confuse with NUXE Prodigieux Le Parfum which is a fragrance and not dry oil.
#2: Bioderma Crealine H20 Micellar Solution
Until Bioderma launched on Beautylish.com, it was very difficult to find one of my favorite French brands in the U.S. I’m a long-term fan of the Crealine H20 line (in America, it’s called Sensibio H2O) designed for sensitive skin (and especially their micellar water that effortlessly melts even the most durable makeup), but I can’t always find travel size products in New York. While the brand has a presence at some NYC-based Ricky’s beauty supply stores, not all of them allow testing products before purchasing. From that perspective, I loved the idea of being able to test all the different Bioderma products at the French pharmacies.
How to Use: Apply on a cotton round and use to remove makeup from eyes and face. From what I’ve heard while talking to Parisian women at pharmacies, many of them use micellar water to remove makeup followed by a thermal water instead of washing their face with water. Thermal water is considered milder for skin which means that it doesn’t age skin as quickly as regular water.
• Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire is a makeup removing solution, i.e. micellar water. This product is a gold standard of makeup removing products for sensitive skin. Comes in different packages, from travel-friendly 100 ml to value packages of 500 ml with different lid options (regular and with a pump dispenser).
• Bioderma Crealine H2O Lingettes are micellar water infused wipes that are perfect for traveling. These are available in the U.S. and are absolutely must-try for everyone!
• Bioderma Crealine Tolerance+ is a recently launched serum that immediately neutralizes skin redness and reduces discomfort from having a super dry and irritated skin. Recommended using as a primer, before applying makeup.
• Bioderma AR BB Cream and Crealine AR Teintee are a BB-Cream and tinted moisturizer for sensitive skin. Crealine AR is a moisturizer that contains a slightly green pigment which helps to diffuse redness, i.e. it’s a gentle color correcting makeup primer.
• Bioderma Crealine Eyes is an anti-aging gel moisturizer for sensitive around eyes skin which is suitable for people wearing contact lenses.
#3: Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentre
This is a cult 3-in-1 product that I see all the time backstage at fashion weeks. Known as “24-hour miracle cream,” the formula of Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentre cream is so gentle that it works even for most sensitive skin types. Why so many makeup artists swear by it is because this creamy lotion provides immediately turns dehydrated skin into a well-nourished and glowy one.
There are different schools of how makeup professionals use this miracle product on set (in fact, for some artists this product is their best-kept secret), what I’ve seen is that some people use it not only as a primer and moisturizer but also as a makeup remover. Personally, I love using this cream on dry patches of my skin to deliver immediate hydration. Also, I happened to forget to bring with me on this trip a night cream so I’ve been applying Lait-Crème Concentre at night and my skin has been loving it!
How to Use: As a daily or nightly moisturizer for dry skin or as a makeup primer for dehydrated skin.
• Embryolisse Lait-Crème Fluide is a body moisturizer featuring the same ultra-nourishing formula.
• Embryolisse Filaderme Émulsion is a lighter version of the face moisturizer that works great before you apply a foundation.
• Embryolisse Crème Nutritive Douceur Mains is a nourishing hand cream for very dry skin.
• Embryolisse Soin Contour Des Yeux is a nourishing and non-greasy eye cream.
• Embryolisse Hydra-Masque is a hydrating mask for a dull and dehydrated skin.
#4: Avene Cold Cream Lait Corporel Nourrissant
If you have sensitive, eczema-prone skin you will find a great relief after trying Avene Cold Cream Lait Corporel Nourrissant. One of the disappointing observations that I’ve made while in Paris is that water there was SO bad. Even though I’m very diligent in terms of moisturizing, my skin was crying for extra hydration and it was old good Cold Cream that finally provided me with much-needed relief. While I’m not a fan of the scent of this body lotion, the nourishing properties of this product specifically designed for sensitive skin are unbeatable. The lotion comes in different sizes and also as a face cream, but I decided to stick to this medium size as it’s travel-friendly.
While I only picked the body lotion of the iconic Cold Cream line, people with sensitive skin will benefit from checking out products for face and hands. A few years ago, a family member of mine struggled from cold allergies on the hands and Cold Cream for hands really helped to improve (and completely eliminate!) the situation. So, if you are struggling with super dry and allergies-prone skin, Cold Cream might become the solution you’ve been waiting for so long. In my humble opinion, it’s definitely worth checking out!
How to Use: Immediately after taking a shower and during the day, applied on dry patches.
• Avene Cold Cream Stick Levres is a gentle and very hydrating lip balm that I also picked while in France. I love the effect this lip balm provides that I’m thinking of including it in the list of Top 10 Lip Balms I Can’t Live Without.
• Avene Cold Cream Cream is a rich lotion designed for specifically dry and flaky areas like heels and elbows.
• Avene Cream Mains Concentree is a hand lotion that helps to repair dry, chapped skin on your hands.
#5: Weleda Skin Food Crème aux Plantes Medicinales
This is another cult product that all skincare junkies are hunting for at French pharmacies. Weleda is a famous affordable French brand that I personally saw at every single pharmacy while in Paris. They offer a wide selection of body lotions, shower gels, massage oils and so on, but if you want to stick to just one product from the line, I highly recommend picking up Weleda Skin Food.
Skin Food is all natural restorative cream for super dry and rough skin that many makeup artists swear by. In my opinion, the product features not the most pleasant scent (it’s very herbal), but it’s all worth it. Whether you have irritation from wearing too much flip-flops (when your heels become rough and non-photogenic looking) or your elbows start reminding sand paper, apply Skin Food a few times throughout the day and you’ll promptly notice the difference.
How to Use: Apply on desperately dry spots like heels and elbows or at night as a night cream — some people compare Skin Food to La Mer Creme de la Mer, but at a much more affordable price tag.
Product Line: There are plenty of products by Weleda, but there seems to be just one product in the Skin Food line.
#6: Vichy Normaderm Gel Nettoyant Puriffiant Profond
A lot of people with acne-prone skin are sensitive to acne medications (like my sensitivity to Benzoyl Peroxide) and for them, Normaderm line by Vichy is a life saver. I know for sure because in my teens I’m been using Normaderm products non-stop. I grew up in Russia where you could find Vichy at many pharmacies and it was my mom who encouraged me to take care of my skin ever since I was young (thanks, mom!). At 31, I’m more concerned about fine lines than acne, but I still love having the Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser in my collection – not exclusively for nostalgic purposes but also because it’s a product that I come back to every so often when my skin starts breaking out from all the beauty products I need to test as a beauty editor.
If you experience occasional breakouts (for instance, during that time of the month) consider picking up this gel cleanser. It leaves your skin squeaky clean and feels slightly refreshing. While you could easily find many products by Vichy in the U.S., it’s a good time to pick up your favorite products by the brand in travel-size packaging. For instance, I recently run out of all the cleansers that I brought with me to the trip so this airplane-friendly tube of Normaderm Gel was a great treat to bring with me to New York.
How to Use: Twice a day as a typical gel cleanser. Avoid applying around eyes.
• Vichy Normaderm Sain Correcteur Anti-Imperfections Hydration 24h is a daily moisturizer that helps to improve skin imperfections associated with acne, such as dark spots and clogged pores.
• Vichy Normaderm 3-in-1 Exfoliant + Nettoyant + Masque is a unique product that could be used either as a typical exfoliating cleanser or as a face mask.
• Vichy Normaderm Anti-Age Sain Surfacant is a day cream designed for people in their 30s who still have acne but already started developing first wrinkles.
• Vichy Normaderm Nuit Detox is a night cream that helps to resurface aging acne-prone skin.
#7: Bioderma Photoderma Bronz SPF 30 Spray
Maybe it’s just my personal preference, but I love European sunscreens much more than the ones you could find in the U.S. Perhaps, it has something to do with the different regulations as sunscreen in America is considered a drug and thus required to qualify multiple FDA regulations. I’m not sure what’s the deal with sunscreen in Europe, but local pharmacies offer a wide range of sun-protecting products that are not available anywhere else. For a skincare junkie like myself, it means that sunscreens rows at French pharmacies are full of unique goodies that I can’t wait to put my hands on.
The new product that caught my attention is Bioderma Photoderma Bronz SPF 30 Spray which is 2-in-1 kind of product that promotes natural bronzing of your skin while protecting it from both UVA and UVB rays. The product comes in two different versions, one is designed for wet application and another for dry one. Since I’m not that much of a swimmer, I picked the latest and truly enjoyed the results. Surprisingly, but even if you are a pale queen like moi and you avoid the sun at any cost, this product still manages to bronze you just a little bit – so you look like you really went on a vacation instead of sitting in your room all day long.
How to Use: Apply a half an hour before sun exposure and reapply every 1-2 hours.
Product Line: The Photoderma Line features a huge range of sunscreen products ranging from SPF 15 to SPF 100.
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There you have it: my recommendations on which products to pick up at French pharmacies. These might not be the trendiest products out there, but they proved to become cult skincare gems that really work. I wonder which products from French (or European, if that matters) pharmacies have you ever tested and would love to recommend. Please leave your suggestions in the comments area below and let’s discuss what makes them so special.