My friend, Elissa, is back! This time with a very fun guide to the best French pharmacy skincare products she’s come across in her travels and research. I asked her to write this post because I’m fascinated by French pharmacies, and I wanted to know more for a future trip. We hope this guide is helpful if you’re dipping your toe into the French skincare world!
Elissa here! I love French pharmacy products. I first encountered and then fell in love with them while living in South Korea when my skincare regime was in full effect. While I like Korean skincare and am a fan of their 10-step skincare regime, Korean products weren’t really doing it for me. And I know they work since many of my friends LOVE them, but my skin just wasn’t as lucky.
While perusing a Korean skincare shop one hot, humid summer day I came across a 2-for-1 sale for the Avène Thermal Spring Water and decided to give it a shot. I was super skeptical at the time of these face mists since I saw them as overpriced spray bottles, but, oh, was I wrong. From that purchase on, I immediately became a fan and my interest in French skincare was born.
Coincidentally, the first place I visited post-Korea was France where I explored wonders of a French pharmacy and subsequently stocked up on some of my now favorite products.
Why I Love French Pharmacy Skincare
I have quite sensitive skin. Products either make my skin sting, make me breakout, or give me some strange rash…so fun. But the French skincare products I have discovered are so gentle! I haven’t encountered one that makes my skin sting. My mother jokes that the reason they work so well on me is because I HAVE French skin….due to our French ancestry. Ha!
Anyway, between my trips to France and Paris, here are some of my favorite picks:
13 French Pharmacy Skincare Products to Try
1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk
The most important thing you can do for your skin is to put on sunscreen…or just avoid the sun whenever possible. Why do you think Korean women have such beautiful skin when they are older? They avoid the sun like the plague!
When avoiding the sun is not possible, put this stuff on. It has Cell-Ox Shield XL, Advanced UVA/UVB technology and antioxidant protection. By far the best sunscreen I have ever used and I can use it on my face and body. It doesn’t feel sticky or greasy like other sunscreens; I forget I am even wearing any! They also have a mineral version, which is next on my list to try! Buy here
2. Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water
When it comes to micellar water, nothing is more classic than Bioderma! According to their site, NAOS Laboratories used an ecobiological approach to formulation, aiming to create “capture impurities while preserving the skin’s natural protective film.”
I use micellar water as the first step in my skincare routine to remove makeup and start cleansing my skin. Just soak a cotton pad with some of the water and rub gently. Of all the brands, this one has especially been the best for my sensitive skin. Buy here
3. Caudalíe Beauty Elixir
There’s just something about Caudalíe, especially when it comes to their beauty elixir. This particular formula is inspired by the mythical Youth Elixir of the Queen of Hungary in the 1500s. All ingredients are of 100% natural-origin including green grapes, peppermint, rose, and rosemary essential oil, musc rose and myrrhe oil.
You can use it for a variety of different things, but my favorite is just to have the mini-version on hand for a quick refresher. It’s the perfect pick-me-up running around all day, especially in the summer heat. My sister loves spraying some Caudalíe before applying makeup! Buy here
4. La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water Face Mist
Another favorite in the face mist department (there are three on this list!) is the La Roche-Posay thermal spring water face mist. The water is sourced from the thermal spring water in the town of La Roche-Posay and is a perfect pick-me-up. If you find Caudalie too strong for you skin, you may like this one instead. Buy here
5. Avène Thermal Spring Water
The classic! Avène is what started my interest in French skincare, and is still one of my favorites for a face mist. Sourced from the water of the Cévennes Mountains in the town of Avéne, this spray is also great for calming and hydrating skin. I really couldn’t tell you which of the three I’d pick, so I recommend buying the smaller versions to test for yourself!
Sam Note: I personally prefer Avène more in the winter and Caudalíe in the summer! Buy here
6. La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Moisturizer for Dry Skin
This is the best moisturizer I have ever used. I use it on both my face and body. It claims to have up to 48 hours of hydration using a “unique prebiotic action on the skin microbiome.” They really aren’t lying! My skin is soft and smooth for two days after putting this on once. Buy here
7. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Balm
Most eye creams sting the area around my eyes and this doesn’t! Its formula includes caffeine to help with under eye puffiness and also includes a few different ingredients to help with the skin around the eye like Natural Origin Hyaluronic Acid, Aquabioryl, and more. It’s light – more like an eye gel – and works like a dream. Buy here
8. La Roche-Posay Redermic C Vitamin C Lotion
This has done wonders for my skin texture and I recommend it to everyone! It’s meant to fight against fine lines and wrinkles and uses a formula that includes Vitamin C and fragmented hyaluronic acid. Buy here
9. Avène Cicalfate Repair Cream
I have seen this recommended many times and it wasn’t until I was in a pharmacy with my mom who was looking for something to cure a cut on her finger that I finally decided to try this. It really works and so quickly! It cleared up my mom’s cut right away. Buy here
10. L’Occitane Hand Creams
These are the best hand creams I have ever tried and they all smell amazing! They also come in the most cheerful packaging.
Same Note: Also love these! I’ve tried the Verbena Mandarin Melting Hand Cream and am currently using the Shea Butter Bergamot Light Hand Cream. I have drier hands, so the shea butter works better for me. Buy here
11. La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5 for Dry Skin Irritations
While the Lipikar Balm is for intense moisturizing, the Cicaplast cream is more of a multi-purpose balm. It’s much better if you have dry, irritated skin. Buy here
12. Cattier Clay Masks
For a little extra indulgence, nothing is better than the Cattier clay masks! There are three types – pink for sensitive skin, green for oily skin, and yellow for dry skin. The pink mask uses shea butter and peppermint; the green uses jojoba oil, peppermint, and rosemary essential oil, and the yellow uses jojoba oil and geranium essential oil. Buy here
13. Avène Cleanance Mask
And for my last pick, the 3-in-1 clarifying scrub mask from Avène! The mask is meant to help with cleansing, exfoliating, and absorbing oil in one go. Definitely only use this once or twice a week max! Buy here
There you have it! Those were Elissa’s favorite French pharmacy skincare products based on research and experimenting she’s done the last few years!
For more toiletry tips, read these next:
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Cover photo by lydia-threads via Pixabay
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