A couple months ago I stepped foot in Paris for the first time. Like many before me, I fell in love with the food, wine, and culture there. The shopping is nothing to sneeze at either. Those who have a few grand to drop on Louis Vuitton luggage or Céline totes will delight at the “discounted” prices compared to the US. For the budget-conscious that still want mementos to take home, let me introduce you to the world of French drugstore cosmetics.
I was traveling with a blog enthusiast friend who tipped me off on the fantastic deals that others have scored on cult beauty products. A little internet research yielded scores of rave reviews and recommendations.
In France, a “pharmacie” operates more like a drugstore than a pharmacy, selling over the counter medications and toiletries. But where they really shine is in their beauty aisles. Here, white coat-clad experts will assist you in selecting the right products for your needs and skin type. If you prefer to shop without assistance, there is the “parapharmacie” option, which is basically a self-serve pharmacie section that sits inside a larger store, such as Monoprix (locations all over Paris).
Here are some of the products I picked up, as well as links to where to buy in the US (for a lot more $$$ than in France, unfortunately)
1. Bioderma Créaline Micellar Water: Micellar water seems to be everywhere these days, and for good reason. It’s a gentle, non-drying formula that is effective for makeup removal. I love using this as an eye makeup remover, as it is the first kind I’ve tried that doesn’t burn my eyes or require rubbing in. I’ve found it less effective as a face makeup remover because it tends to work better on cotton pads, which due to their size may just take a while to get the whole face.
2. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen Spray (link is for 60 SPF, I use 50 SPF): An incredibly light sunscreen, so light that you doubt it’s actually on your skin. I used this while dealing with blazing Texas and California sun this month, so I can attest to its efficacy.
3. Klorane Oat Milk Dry Shampoo: Effective as a dry shampoo with a light formula and a subtle fragrance. There is a little bit of powder residue which mostly disappears as it dries.
4. Caudalie Beauty Elixir: This brand utilizes grape extract in its products to promote brightness and vigor of skin. Can be used before putting moisturizer and makeup on, and throughout the day as a refresher.
5. Evian Facial Water Spray: I’m still skeptical if this actually works to improve the skin, but if there’s anything that will wake you up in the middle of a long day of work/school/travel, it’s a quick blast of cool mist.
6. Avene Cicalfate Restorative Cream: A heavier cream that I mostly use at night when my skin is feeling dry or damaged. Haven’t seen too much of a difference but that may be because I use it so infrequently.
Getting to France is no cheap feat, but if you happen to find yourself there, be sure to take advantage of the amazing prices they have on beauty products, for yourself and as souvenirs for friends and family.
A few articles with tons more product recommendations: