I am a third-generation Californian. When I moved to Paris 20 years ago, I didn’t own a bra, hadn’t shaved in nearly a decade, and probably agreed that perfume should be illegal. I’m not going to lie: I was thrilled with the idea of changing my granola-munching ways to become a chic, elegant Parisienne. I was getting tired of worrying about what it cost the environment. Two decades later, I’ve come full circle, knowing we all need to put the planet first. Luckily for me, the timing is perfect as the French beauty industry is going green, introducing sustainable personal care products that reduce packaging and waste while still giving my daily routine an illusion of elegance.
In 2010, Laëtitia Van de Walle, a young woman from the Western part of France, decided to do something about all the waste she was throwing into her bathroom garbage can, so she started Lamazuna, a brand that offers luxurious solutions for zero-waste hygiene. The key to successful waste reduction is increasing the density of what is created, shipped, and used; so liquid products are being replaced by bars. Lamazuna offers an attractive selection of shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant bars, as well as menstrual cups for the ladies and shaving cream bars for gents.
Lush is another boutique with soaps and shampoos in bars, with the added benefit of no packaging at all. Lush shops display a bounty of pretty bricks that are cut upon request, and shoppers with their own bags leave 100% waste-free. They also have hair conditioners, so those who need it don’t have to sacrifice their hair care routine to save the planet.
If you’re not ready to try a menstrual cup, Naturalia health food stores have 100% organic cotton tampons pads with biodegradable packaging. And since we’re in the WC, all of the large grocery store chains sell toilet paper that is also 100% recycled.
Le Drugstore Parisien
It’s not just packaging and water weight that consume and contribute to the local dump. If you want your toothbrush to be recycled, you’ll find bamboo brushes with recyclable bristles at Le Drugstore Parisien.
Natural silk dental floss, treated with wax and spun into a reusable, glass container is available online, at Hakuna Taka. Doctors generally recommend against cleaning ears with a swab, but if it’s a habit, grocery stores have them with cardboard sticks to the hold the cotton buds, or Muji makes them with sustainable bamboo.
The French call shaving brushes blaireau. It’s also an insult they use to mean idiot, so be careful when shopping for one in a shaving boutique like Planète Rasoir! This is a great place to look for traditional razors and recyclable blades. It’s funny how everything that was old becomes new again—this is how my grandfather used to shave!
Savon de Marseille
It’s hard to imagine anything more traditionally French than savon de Marseille (Marseille soap). Made primarily of vegetable oils, this soap had been used for personal hygiene as well as laundry and house cleaning for over 600 years. Artisanal soaps are shaped into iconic cubes and can be found at grocery stores and markets. Practical, they also make great souvenirs for friends at home. Many stores carry these, including Fleux and Savonnerie Fer à Cheval.
Our grandparents knew what they were doing with nail files, too. Vitry has been using glass to make reusable files since 1795. They are available in pharmacies, and like the dry beauty products mentioned above, they’re perfect for carry-on toiletry kits that are whisked through airport security.
For me, face creams have been the hardest to replace. I was thrilled when I found super-soft woven make-up remover cloths at Cool Japan in the 2nd. A drop of argan oil and good old-fashioned water is all I need to clean and lightly exfoliate my ultra-sensitive skin. 100% cotton, each cloth last for years and when I’m done, it can go in the compost.
Local Parisiennes flock to Aroma-Zone, where they offer all the recipes and organic ingredients to make your own lotions and potions. From deodorants to face creams, masks to toothpaste, you can use your containers from home for your creations, or buy a few on-site. If you’re addicted to pre-made products, Léa Nature is a French brand that uses vegetable-based plastics for their packaging, so at least the waste can be recycled.
Le Drugstore Parisien – 122 rue du Bac, 75006
LUSH – several addresses in Paris
Lamazuna – 31 rue Louis Blanc, 75010
Muji – several addresses in Paris
Planète Rasoir – 58 rue de Clichy, 75009
Aroma-Zone – several addresses in Paris
Cool Japan – 45 rue Saint Anne, 75002
Léa Nature – 100 rue de Rennes, 75006
Naturalia – several addresses in Paris
- Find the best of French skincare, beauty, and haircare products.
- Learn about “clean” perfume with this organic brand.
- Discover Paris’ winter fashion looks.
Written by Sylvia Sabes for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.