During my trip to France I bought all the touristy items: a sparkling Le Tour Eiffel, a beret, some Chanel and Louboutin (which I will cover in another post). But I also came home with what my husband called, “my very own French pharmacy.”
As I was researching things to do, places to see and pastries to eat in Paris and Amsterdam, I came across a lot of articles on the deals on products at French pharmacies that you just can’t get in the States. I’m talking Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed beauty products. And though I may find her to be a bit on the obnoxious side (“conscious uncoupling,” anyone?), the woman has great skin. So I did my homework, figuring out what I wanted to stock up on (and what my mother wanted me to bring home to her) and came up with a list about the length of my arm.
Pharmacies are a much different experience in France than they are in the U.S.A. They aren’t like Duane Reade or CVS. They do offer prescriptions and first aid supplies, but what they really specialize in is top of the line skin care.
I found my salvation in Pharmacie de la Mairie in Marais, conveniently just a 15 minute walk from our apartment. There I loaded up on 75% of what I had on my list. The other 25% I just figured I wouldn’t be able to fit in my suitcase, and we’d already bought another one to bring home all of our incredible finds. Next time, though!
So here they are, the holy grail of beauty products fresh from Paris:
If you’re interested in procuring these items, whether you live in France (lucky duck!) or somewhere else, here is what was worthy enough to claim a space in my suitcase next to my Louboutins:
- Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré . . . Yes, there are 11 bottles in that picture of this miracle worker. But five of them went to my mom so it’s not as bad as you think! This is a moisturizer, removes any last traces of yesterday’s makeup and acts as a makeup primer. I started using it in France and it was like having perfect skin in a tube. This product has been endorsed by all the huge makeup artists as well as Gwyneth, Jane Birkin, Karlie Kloss and Julia Restoin Roitfeld. And yes, you can get this at Sephora and Target for $28. But I got it in Paris for less than half the price. You just can’t beat it, hence why I bought all those tubes.
- Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum . . . If you have sun spots, age spots or pock marks, this will even out your skin tone and give your skin a radiant glow.
- Caudalie Polyphenol c15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum . . . Made from concentrated grape-seed polyphenols, hyaluronic acid and tons of vitamin C, this oil-free serum moisturizes, protects against free-radicals and acts as an antioxidant for the skin while halting the signs of aging. I’m sold!
- Caudalie Polyphenol c15 Overnight Detox Oil . . . I actually broke this out one night in France after a particularly long, champagne-fueled night. My skin always looks and feels dehydrated after a night of drinks, but the next morning my face was smooth, hydrated and glowing.
- Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream . . . This is supposed to be an amazing staple to have in your handbag. And since I live in New England, I know it’s going to come in handy when winter comes along. This happened to come with a free Caudalie lip balm which is so nourishing.
- Avène Thermal Spring Water . . . I’ve been using this for years! I think this is available in the states but it’s about twice the price. I first bought it in Salzburg back in 2011 and then my sister brought me home a double pack from her year in Bulgaria in 2014. I’ve been using it so sparingly but one large can does seem to last forever. You use this after you cleanse, exfoliate and use your toner to even out the PH levels of your skin. This is supposed to allow your targeted creams and serums to work more efficiently.
- Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream . . . This is billed as being for irritated, sensitive skin. I’m using it as a nightly moisturizer. This layered underneath the Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil means I wake up with supple, plump skin, instead of skin begging for moisture.
- Homeoplasmine . . . It’s actually a cream for babies but many French women use it as a lip balm and to heal any kind of irritated skin. Both Byrdie and Vogue included it in articles about must-have French beauty products.
- Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse® OR . . . If my teenage self had known about this I would have bathed in it. It leaves your skin so soft while adding an ever so gentle shimmer to it. Great for legs in the summertime!
- Nuxe Rêve de Miel® lip balm . . . My lips get so chapped in the winter. So I’m looking forward to having this thick, luxurious lip balm on hand for those cold commutes to work. And it’s paraben free!
- Bioderma Crealine H20 . . . The legendary makeup remover finally made it into my hands. Makeup artists and celebs swear by it’s miraculous powers to remove even the most stubborn remains of mascara.
- Innoxa Blue Eye Drops . . . These drops claim to make the whites of your eyes whiter and if you have blue eyes, the blue becomes bluer. I’m so careful about what I put into my eyes but this idea intrigued me so I took a chance. And not only did it live up to the hype, it was also soothing on my tired, jet-lagged eyes. I’m in love!
- Leonor Greyl Huile Secret de Beauté . . . A favorite among celebs, I’ve had my eye on Leonor Greyl’s Huile Secret de Beauté for years! But at around $65 to $70 dollars a bottle for this body and hair oil, I haven’t been able to justify the purchase. This I found at the Publicis Drugstore right near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees for about two-thirds that price. And not only does it smell sophisticated, it gives my legs a glow. And the bottle looks gorgeous in my bathroom. I display it along with certain Caudalie products and my Nuxe huile. Also, if you do get to Paris, make sure to stop by Publicis. It is such a cool concept. It’s like a bunch of little boutiques rolled into one. You have your paper store, your gourmet grocery store and boulangerie, jewelry, books, liquor, baby clothes, a pharmacy and even a macaroon bar by Pierre Herme, one of the premiere macaroon companies in France.
I just love it when my bathroom looks like a French pharmacy!