During my last trip to Paris, beauty was on my mind. And how could it not be? The city is essentially a big arena where beautiful food, beautiful architecture and beautiful people are all sparring for first place for the “Most Charming Award”— and they ALL win. It’s beautiful, but more than that it is CHARMING. The city really knows how to woo you. And at the top of the Charming list, are the people. The Parisian women know how to be exquisitely beautiful, but in an understated, “not trying” kind of way. When I asked women on the street and in beauty shops what their philosophy on beauty was, most responded that the French never compromise luxury, never ever. They buy classics, and stick to the classics, while ignoring trends. They never “push it” when it comes to beauty, either. When they apply makeup, it’s never to change themselves, it’s only used to “freshen up” their looks. Parisians believe “less is more.” They embrace their flaws and use them to their advantage because they believe their “flaws make them more interesting to look at.”
Ask any Parisian woman what’s in her skincare arsenal, and she’ll reply (in French, of course) that most of her skincare can be picked up at a French pharmacy (“pharmacie” to them)! Because the French have a big secret, which is that their Pharmacies are very unlike our Pharmacies. Their drugstores carry products, with a fair price tag, that are dripping in luxury! They carry quality products that genuinely work. They’re also usually free of alcohols, parabens. harsh chemicals and unnecessary fragrances. Next time you’re in Paris, make sure you stock up. Not going? You definitely should! But until you do, ask your friend who’s going to bring you back some.
Now that their secret is out, here are my (and their) favorites:
Soap-free and hypoallergenic, Bioderma is the Micellar Water to beat. It removes layers of makeup without being the least bit drying. It preserves the natural (good) oils on your skin, while dissolving the bad (pollutants and dirt) that damage your skin. You want that J.Lo Glow? Then get some Bioderma and use it religiously! You can use it before cleansing, to remove makeup or after as a toner— because this stuff balances your skin’s PH, too! I use it morning and night— and sometimes midday when my face needs a redo!
This is my most purchased French product. I can’t sing its praises enough! I recommend it to anyone and everyone. And I’m recommending it to you, too! Do it. Do it now.
Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentre
This is the cream that makeup artists swear by to create a smooth, hydrated canvas. It’s also in the beauty bags of models, actresses and plain old beauty product lovers. It’s tried and true, folks! Since it’s birth in 1950, it’s wowed users as being a cream that can also act as makeup remover, cleansing lotion, makeup primer, and just a really fulfilling facial moisturizer. It’s fast drying and not overwhelmingly thick, but also protects your skin’s barrier so you retain much needed hydration.
I just purchased my third bottle of Embryolisse and I’m not stopping anytime soon. I use it underneath my foundation (always) and on days when I’m EXTRA dry, I even mix a pea-sized amount with my foundation. I love the dewy glow it provides!
Caudalie Beauty Elixir
The new kid on the skincare block, at least here in the States, is an herbed skin spritzer. A completely refreshing way to apply hydration throughout the day. I love it in a purse-sized bottle so I can stay dewy throughout the day. Because parched skin is dull skin.
At the top of the skin-spritzing list stands Caudalie Beauty Elixir mist. Smelling intriguingly medicinal and feeling chilly and fresh. I spritz this immediately after cleansing, again after moisturizing, again after applying makeup and throughout the day again and again and again— because I live in the dessert and this dry air just won’t quit! This Beauty Elixir Mist is Caudalie’s bread and butter— their #1 seller.
Caudalie Vine(Activ) Overnight Detox Oil
Another French crowd pleaser is the Caudalie Vine(Activ) Overnight Detox Oil. This oil is totally plant based, and why wouldn’t it be? The Parisians love natural skincare as much as they love their croissants and daily espresso. This oil targets anti-aging pollutants and stressors in the skin, which helps to rid your skin of impurities, all while you sleep. It aids in bringing youth to your complexion by creating smooth, bright skin. Whoever said the Fountain of Youth was fictional didn’t know about this stuff.
First thing I noticed upon entering my first French Pharmacy, was a tall stack of thermal sprays, also, hoards of tourists (and natives) grabbing them up by the armful. What is a thermal spray, you ask? Well it’s mineral water that comes from a hot spring, is loaded with beneficial natural ingredients, then is bottled in an aerosol can for easy applying. It seems gimmicky, at least it did to me. But I researched a lot about French beauty, and thermal water was at the top of each list. The benefits include hydrating the skin, because most people have dehydrated skin. It offers protection from UV damage, since most sprays are high in zinc, copper and selenium. It also decreases inflammation, soothes skin and keeps you looking and feeling ultra fresh.
Avene Thermal Spring Water
Eau Thermale Avene Thermal Spring Water is the measuring stick for which each and every thermal spray should be measured against. It is the game changer. It can be used after cleansing, after working out, after shaving. It can be used to treat allergic reactions, redness and even diaper rashes. If you have itchy skin, use it. If you have wounded skin, use it. Use it at the beginning, end and all throughout your day. This spray also has the boasting power of being sold every two second, worldwide. True story. I saw this stuff being sold in Costco sized six-packs, while in France, so you KNOW its a crowd pleaser. If you can get your hands on some, purchase it in bulk!
Nuxe Dry Oil
A multi purpose oil for face, body and hair. This oil lines the shelves at any and every store in Paris. It also lines the walls of each and every article on French Pharmacy products I’ve read. No, really! I can’t believe how present the Nuxe oil is in France. It made me think I was missing out on a big secret. It smells incredibly fresh and is lightweight— and could be the next big thing for your beauty regimen.
If using on your face, I find success in mixing a few drops in with my normal moisturizer— then work into my skin in an outward motion. It results in incredible supple, soft skin. If you have chapped lips, apply a drop of Nuxe oil, then seal the moisture with a thin layer of Vaseline over top. The same idea applies for body moisturizing— apply the oil on your driest areas (knees, ankles, elbows, dry patches) then seal that hydration in with a body cream over top. If you’re wanting luxe locks, spray Nuxe oil onto a natural bristle brush and comb through your hair, paying specific attention to your ends.
Sanoflore 24 Roll-on Deodorant
For all of my natural-loving ladies, this deodorant is the one for you! I hate deodorants that smell too natural (i.e. “herby”) and I also hate smelling like a flower or baby powder. This smells fresh, clean and powdery. This is a more-natural option for staying safe and healthy, while preventing the annoying side effects of sweating. Deodorants (anti-perspirants) that we’re used to in the U.S. are banned in Europe because of the toxins and contaminates they contain. Yikes. This is aluminum free, non-toxic and the best non-antiperspirant deodorant I’ve encountered.
Clemascience Pomissime La Fabuleuse
I spent a good majority of my time in Paris at beauty product stores and pharmacies asking actual Parisians what their favorite products were and asking store clerks what the best selling items were. This body and face cream was one such best selling item. The particular madame I asked responded without hesitation that the cream was not only her store’s best seller, but a best seller in all of France. It’s sold for skin ranging from normal to sensitive to aging— and provides almost instant radiance.
This lotion includes an ingredient that is becoming mainstream in skincare today— snail slime. That is not a joke. I kind of wish it were, though. It would make sense that escargot-eating Parisians WOULD use snail slime in skincare, but almost everyone else is doing it, too. Snail secretion is the NEXT BIG THING in skincare technology. Snail slime contains powerful peptides and hyaluronic acid. It also helps to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in your skin. It can also help to treat dry skin, wrinkles, acne scars, rosacea and age spots. No wonder this cream is a national best seller! Get slimin’ kids!
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
This dry shampoo has been on my radar since I started seeing it in US stores and in beauty related articles and blogs. Before visiting France I had yet to try it, however. It is an award-winning hair powder that absorbs oil, adds volume and texture, and lengthens the life of your blowout. The ultra-fine powder doesn’t weigh down your hair and it smells INCREDIBLE. It’s non-drying formula contains oat milk to provide added hydration. I have found my Holy Grail dry shampoo, folks. Her name is Klorane. This dry shampoo wins all the awards in my book.
A french girl tip I picked up, is to spray it in your fringe, crown and at the base of your hairline— the “oily” areas. Then shake your hands through in a pumping motion, creating texture, volume and a controlled mess. Those Parisians know how to create the perfect “on purpose bedhead.” I think their big hair secret is Klorane.
Paris is such a hub for beauty and inspiration. For years we’ve obsessed over their breads, pastries and cheeses —as well as their perfumes, lipsticks and fashion. The next big thing Americans are tapping into is their skincare products that, yes, can be found in a regular old pharmacy. So whether you’re going to visit France, or you’re just going to scour the internet until you find these French secrets— find a way to get them. These products won’t disappoint!
And if you’re already a passenger on the French Pharmacy bandwagon, comment below which products are your favorite! I’d absolutely love to hear your experience with them!
Until next time, Au Revoir!
Article by Amy Hutchens.
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