Having grown up on CVS and Walgreens, the French pharmacy was a revelation to me. Anyone who has ever been lured by the glowing green cross knows that pharmacies in France shill more than medicine and bath staples. They’re cosmetic wonderlands that offer some of the most ingenious—not to mention luxurious—products around.
For a long time, a trip to France meant loading up on these goods and then painstakingly rationing them in between visits, but of late, they’ve begun to invade new markets. In New York, at least, you can now find brands like La Roche-Posay, Vichy, Klorane and Avène right in Duane Reade. Duane Reade!
Disillusioning? A bit. But convenient? Heck yes. Here are some life-enhancing French exports that are well worth a try.
1. Bioderma Crealine H20. Ask any beauty expert around and they will agree: this is the makeup remover. It goes on like water—totally lightweight and non-greasy—and wipes away every last trace of makeup.
2. Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum. Oenophiles love Caudalie, which uses grapevine extract in many of its products. An editor I know swears by this serum, which gives skin a smooth, glowing finish.
3. Vichy ProEVEN Daily Eye Corrector. Late night? Depuff your eyes with this lightweight cream. Infused with caffeine, it’s like a little hit of espresso to the face.
4. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. This golden oil from eco-friendly brand Nuxe is one of those does-it-all staples. A blend of six natural oils, it can be combined with moisturizer, slicked directly onto skin, applied to the ends of hair as a finishing product, or used as a deep-conditioning treatment. A serious renaissance product, to say the least.
5. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Serum. Gritty exfoliators sometimes scare me because I feel like I’m sanding off the surface of my face, but this quick-absorbing formula uses glycolic acid to gently turn over cells.
6. Roger & Gallet Rose Body Lotion. A great example of how even the most basic French pharmacy product can feel ultra-luxurious. And is there anything classier than rose? Everyone from your little sister to your grandmother can wear it well.
7. Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk. Dry shampoos are everywhere now, but the first time I heard about them was when my friend in Paris basically banished showering in favor of Klorane’s spray-on formula. It’s great when you don’t have time to shampoo, or when you want that tousled, oh-I-just-woke-up- this-way look.
9. Caudalie Beauty Elixir. I mist this beauty elixir onto my face and hands whenever I need a little pick-me-up at work. Infused with rose, orange blossom, mint and rosemary, it makes my cubicle smell like a spa. Hope my neighbors don’t mind.
10. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in Sunscreen. I despise wearing sunscreen, but La Roche-Posay’s silky, lightweight formulas actually feel like you’re treating yourself, rather than just loading your skin up with glop.
11. Avène Thermal Spring Water. It seems like every fancy French brand has a secret thermal spring where they derive their magic ingredients. Avène is no exception, but a spritz of their thermal water to the face is indeed quite refreshing after a late night or a long flight.
12. Vichy Liftactiv Serum 10. New to the market, this wrinkle-reducer uses Rhamnose (a naturally-derived plant sugar) to give skin an overall boost—smoothing, hydrating, brightening, all that good stuff.
- Lisa Eldridge, a successful make-up artist, tells us about her favorites from the French pharmacies
- BBC Travel has also discovered this trend and shares which brands they think you shouldn’t leave Paris without
- During fashion weeks in Paris, Style.com also visits the Parisian pharmacies to load up on some beauty products