For those of you who have been visiting my little corner of the internet for a while, you will know that there are three things I love more than anything! Well… After my cat, and my husband. I guess.
I love travelling, decorating rooms and skincare. I am actually obsessed with skincare. I have so many pots and tubes on my bedside table my husband calls me the ‘little chemist’. I am always on the search for the best ingredients and the most effective, yet not too expensive, products.
I have a good excuse though (desperately trying to justify myself here), I am not very good at makeup, so I need to have decent skin. And, to be completely honest, I know where this obsessive-compulsive behaviour comes from – 1) I was born in France, 2) French pharmacies are skincare heaven, 3) all of the above.
Talking about French pharmacies, if you are travelling to France and venturing into one of the shops with a giant green flashing cross at the front, chances are you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Mostly if you don’t speak French! So I thought I would put a little guide together of my favourite French pharmacy skincare products. I have been using all of the items I mentioned below for years. No-nonsense marketing fluff here, just real French staples proven to be efficient AND not that expensive!
You don’t need to ruin yourself for beauty!
I use the Cicaplast Pro-Recovery balm every. single. day. It is a fantastic hydrating serum! It goes on quite greasy, but give it 5 minutes and your skin will feel as soft as a peach!
I have a little backstory with this product. About 2 years ago, I started to have teeny tiny pimples all over my cheeks, little red dots full of water. It wasn’t acne and my skin was quite dry. It could have been a reaction to something or maybe dehydration. I was visiting my parents at the time and I went to their village’s pharmacy looking for some sort of ointment that would protect and heal my skin. I ended up buying Cicaplast Pro-Recovery and, 3 days later, all the pimples were gone! It’s a miracle product and I haven’t stopped using it since!
Redermic R was the first retinol cream I have ever used, and one of the bests I have ever come across. For those of you who are not too familiar with retinol, it is one of the only anti-ageing ingredients that has been proven to scientifically work. It is also excellent for acne-prone skins, and you will actually see results using Redermic R!
Retinol can be aggressive on the skin but I have never had any issue with La Roche-Posay Redermic R. I recommend you use it in the evening and make sure to use sunscreen during the day as retinol will make your skin more sensitive. Trust me, get that tube and in 10 years time, you will look better than the person who didn’t buy it.
First thing first! Bioderma Sensibio is called Bioderma Crealine in France. They changed the name outside of France, maybe because Crealine wasn’t the easiest thing to pronounced (my assumption only). So in doubt, look for the pink bottle!
I have been using the Bioderma micellar water for the last 8 years. It has only become popular outside of France recently, but in France, it has been a staple in bathrooms for more than a decade.
It is very gentle on the skin and removes all the dirt and makeup quickly. Bioderma has a version for all skin types when I was younger and my skin was greasier I was using the Sebium version (the blue and green bottle).
I recommend you buy the 2 bottles pack as it is excellent value for money and a 500ml bottle will last you up to 3 months!
Simple and efficient, Avene moisturising mask is a no-fuss hydrating treatment for the skin. It is very gentle and suits my combination skin, as well as very dry skins. It is affordable and lasts a long time if only used once a week as I do. My tip: apply it to clean skin at night and sleep with it on!
A little bit of a ‘princess product’ Caudalie Beauty Elixir is simply a refreshing and hydrating face mist. It is nice to have in your handbag and to take with you on a long-haul flight. It won’t transform your skin or turn you into a glowing unicorn, but it will make you feel a little more human after a long day/flight/workout.
I have been blessed with keratosis pilaris (thanks Dad!) which means I have very dry ‘chicken skin’ on my arms and legs. The condition is completely harmless but there is no treatment that can cure it, so to find a body lotion which leaves me with baby-soft skin for more than 3 hours is nothing short of a miracle. This is exactly what Bioderma Atoderm cream does! It leaves me with smooth skin for most of the day. It isn’t as cheap as a drugstore body lotion, the bottle is huge and lasts a good while.
About a year ago I took the leap, the dangerously smelly leap to the land of natural deodorants. This was mainly due to my anxious doctor (who also happens to be my mother) sending me links to studies confirming that aluminium salts are harmful. For those of you who have taken the leap too, you will know that the quest to find a natural, yet efficient, deodorant is a pungent and, at times, very embarrassing one. I tried quite a few and got regular “hmmmm I love you, but you smell a little funny” comments from my husband in the process.
Luckily, I eventually went back to France and to a pharmacy where found a little pack of 2 Vichy stick deodorants. I took it home with me and since I have never looked back. It leaves a dry feeling on the skin and leaves me fresh for most of the day without any of the nasty ingredients!
A classic, the holy grail of body oil, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse has been around for more than 25 years and has become a cult beauty product. So much so that Nuxe created a fragrance inspired by the Huile Prodigieuse!
It hydrates and leaves the skin glowing. The fragrance is quite strong and may not be to everybody’s taste, but once you get hooked it is hard to ever look back. In the summer, you can use the shimmery version (pictured) which will make you glow under the last rays of sunshine of the day.
Biafine is a must-have in your pharmacy cabinet! This product was originally created for burn victims to help heal their wounds and the damaged skin. It works wonders on sunburns and has been very much used over the years by my very pale British husband.
In case of sunburn, I apply a thick layer on the skin and let it sink overnight. Depending on the severity of the burn the results can go from reduced redness and pain to fully heal skin in just one night. Biafine is a skin saver, quite literally.
Last but not least, sunscreens! French brands do some of the best sunscreens on the market. Most, if not all, are chemical sunscreens, which have been proven to protect better against UVAs. So if you are from the US especially, make sure to grab a few tubes while in France (or in Europe as most are available across the continent). Which one should you pick? I have an entire post dedicated to my favourite sunscreens so check it out before you go shopping.
That’s it guys! With all those products you should be the softest and most glowing human being around for a good while! And you won’t be completely bankrupt either!