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French Pharmacy Must-Buys: J’aime Les Pharmacies Françaises!

There are two things that editorial exec Grace constantly obsesses over – films and skincare. On a recent holiday to France, her love of the latter reached new heights as she discovered the wonders of French pharmacies. Find out what she bought and why…

French Pharmacy

I knew French women took their skincare seriously, but I had no idea how much until I took a trip there last week. On every street corner where I’d expect a Starbucks, off licence or pub in the UK, that infamous green cross would flash, indicating that I’d reached yet another French pharmacie.

Ranging in size, but always packed to the brim with an array of native brands, these shops offer everything from high performance SPF to indulgent body oils – they’re a skincare junkie’s wonderland. In the UK, we’d consider the typical shelf-fillers ‘higher end’ brands (Nuxe, Caudalie, Lirac, Avene etc) and in-the-know pharmacists advise on the most effective products for you.

So after (literally) hours of swatching, sniffing and poor translation with pharmacist Emilie, I narrowed my options down and headed to the till. Here’s what I got…

First up, Bioderma Crealine H2o. If you’ve read the odd beauty blog you may be a little tired of hearing about this stuff – but there’s a reason everyone loves it so much. If you haven’t, this is micellar water – a cleanser/make-up-remover that combines oil particles with water to break down make-up, yet still feels as gentle as water on the skin. It’s a reliable and super gentle make-up remover that comes in a hefty 500ml bottle that takes months to get through. They’ve earned a cult-like status after originally being adopted backstage at catwalk shows for years before the online beauty world began taking notice. Bioderma was top of my shopping list and I took full advantage of the bumper pack offer of two big bottles for €17.

I’d heard of  La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo after Ruth from had raved about it in a recent video. She explained how it had been the only cure for a few stubborn blemishes on her cheeks. It’s a moisturiser for oily/blemish-prone skin, which I have on my forehead and chin area, which is where I’ve been applying it. I can honestly say – in the areas where I’ve been using it morning and night – I’ve  already noticed much smoother, decongested skin.

My final purchase was another cult product; Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. A holy grail product of Sam from pixiwoo and so many other beauty experts, this is a great no-fuss everyday moisturiser. It’s super moisturising but not greasy, leaves your skin feeling silky smooth and is a dream under foundation – I’ve been using it on my cheeks as the companion to Effaclar Duo, or layered over if the skin is feeling a little too matte.

Before I left the French pharmacie, Emilie asked me what brands I like and then added a hefty collection of samples to my bag!  I could have spent days (and a LOT of euros) in there, but these were my absolute musts.

What about you – are there any French brands that you always stock up on or would love to try? Let us know in the comments below!

– Grace

3 comments Leave a comment
  • martha

    PHYTO has some of the best organic shampoos out there. And DUCRAY has the absolute best of the best shampoo for dry hair! It’s called Nutricerat and nothing from L’Oreal could ever compare with it !
    Avene has amazing thermal water in a sleek spray bottle and NUXE has great shimmering dry oil!
    French products really are great !

  • Grace

    Hi Martha. Love the suggestions… I’m a big fan of that Nuxe oil too!

  • shani

    I’m so sad I learned about the Bioderma Crealine H2O AFTER I came back from Paris! It’s quadruple the price here. I’m going to have to save the money for a trip back! x