I used to spend every June in Paris. I called it my “month of inspiration.” I’d tour the museums, walk along the seine, relax with a book in the Jardin du Luxembourg, sit amongst the sculptures of Rodin and write, and, of course, shop – St. Germain, Avenue Montaigne ,and Le Marais were among my favorite destinations.
And while roaming the city on my month of discovery, I would venture into the french pharmacies and peruse the aisles for the most innovative beauty finds.
I actually just returned from a family function in Paris and, while there, I was able to make my way back into those beloved pharmacies to rediscover some of my favorite french beauty finds. Here are the french products you need to own today (click on name of product to buy it from an online retailer, or bookmark this post for your next jaunt to Paris):
1. Bioderma Crealine H20 ($26) – I am often asked to list my favorite products and this soap-free, water-free face wash and makeup remover is always a the top of the list. Recently, Style Bistro posed the question and here was my response: “I was first introduced to Bioderma Crealine H2O by a friend in Paris. It’s both a makeup remover and a face wash—but without water! Parisian women fear that water dehydrates their skin, leading to premature aging, so they are keen on using products such as this cleansing water as a soap-free, water-free alternative. While I still do wash my face—kind of obsessively—I love this product as my makeup remover. It is ideal for sensitive skin, gets everything off, including stubborn waterproof mascara, and has never made me break out! It’s quite honestly the perfect makeup remover.” This cult-classic can be found at any corner pharmacy in Paris.
2. Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré ($28)- I’ve raved about this in the past (read my review here), but to summarize, Embryolisse, another Parisienne cult favorite, is a staple in almost every makeup artist’s makeup bag. Why? Because it is, quite simply, the perfect moisturizer for all skin types. Gentle and packed with essential fatty acids and vitamins, Embryolisse leaves skin hydrated and glowing without any of the FDA preservatives. It’s an ideal pre-makeup prep product as foundations and powders glide on with ease, post Embryolisse.
3. Avène Cold Cream ($20)- This revered French skin care line can be found at every French pharmacy. While the brand is known for its special water – thermal springs – it’s also rigorous in the quest for creating product that target specific skin disorders including sensitive skin and eczema. The Cold Cream is a staple moisturizer, adored by the Parisienne women for its ability to moisturize even the most dry, cracked and sensitive complexions. While the cream is too thick for my skin type, many of my friends, including Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, swear by this product to keep their complexions hydrated and healthy.
4. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil ($29) – You can’t leave a French pharmacy without purchasing something from Nuxe and the Dry Oil is the most adored product in the line. It’s not reserved solely for your body – although it does produce a gorgeous, subtle glow on skin. Use the dry oil as the French do – on hair and face as well. It’s 98.8% all natural, preservative and silicone free so it’s suitable for almost all skin types.
5. Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18) – Sure, you can find this brand at your local Sephora, but the Beauty Elixir originated in France. Part-toner, part-serum, this mist is chock-full of essential oils that both tighten pores and work on fine lines. And as a mist (Parisienne women love a good face mist), you can apply it pre moisturizer as a boost or after your makeup to set your face.
6. Boiron Homeoplasmine ($21) – The French equivalent to Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream, I was first introduced to this multipurpose ointment by model Jessica Stam. It soothes, protects and moisturizes the skin without the greasy aftermath of Aquafor or 8 Hour. Think of it as a matte finish ideal to use pre-makeup application on dry patches (and lips!) to create a smooth, silky palette. It can also be used on dry hands, cracked cuticles and sunburns.
7. Klorane Dry Shampoo ($20) – By far, my favorite dry shampoo on the market — and while it’s now sold stateside, its French origin makes it a “buy-in-bulk” item from our beloved French pharmacies. Why is this dry shampoo better than all of the rest? The short answer is oat milk. The products main ingredient not only cleanses and absorbs oil but it also leaves hair smooth instead of crunchy and/ or product-heavy like so many of its competitors.
8. Decleor Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum ($68) – The French have been raving about this 100% natural serum for years, but its American following isn’t as loyal. While our marketplace is inundated with hundreds of face oils, Decleor’s Essential Serum is one of the originals and some would say, the best. Essential Serum hydrates, soothes and brightens without leaving an oily residue in its wake. As with most French beauty products, this oil is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive.
9. Avibon Vitamin A Cream ($50-$250) – Widely considered the over-the-counter French Retin-A, this cream is full of vitamin A, one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients, but it’s also the perfect antidote to acne, too. Stock up on this stuff, ladies, it’s quite difficult to find stateside (and when you do find it, it’s extremely costly. Click on the product link to purchase it for the lowest price I could find in the U.S.). Besides being a favorite amongst its native women, Gwyneth Paltrow is also a fan. Says the actress: “Avibon is hard to find outside of France, but it’s one of my very favorites. It’s full of Vitamin A, which is wonderful for the skin, getting rid of blemishes, tough dry spots and preventing wrinkles (they say). I know an older movie star who uses this every night and she has the most amazing skin!” Note: This product is rather thick so use it like your would Retin-A – a little goes a long way.
10. Oenobiol Tanning Skin-Prep Pills – I’ve never actually tried the “tanning pill” but my American friend living in Paris constantly raves about it. And when I saw her skin – the perfect golden brown bronzy hue – I understood why she is a fan. While the pills are extremely popular in Paris, they don’t yet exist in the United States. In fact, I can’t find a single place to buy them online… so this is a product you’ll have to cross the Atlantic to purchase. What does a tanning pill do? The way my “American in Paris” describes it, you take them before, during and after sun exposure (great to use while on Holiday). Apparently, it preps the skin for the sun (some Frenchies go as far as to say that it protects against sun damage, although I highly doubt that), brings out the natural golden color in your skin, and prolongs the life of your tan. Not to mention the shade of bronze that the pills manage to produce – a perfect golden hue.
Remember Evian spray? The glamorous, overly expensive facial mist of the ’80s and ’90s. It contained water… that’s it. But the idea of spraying purified water onto our face was so…luxe…that we’d shell out over $10 for the high-end hydrator.
Cut to a few decades later and, while Evian Facial Water ($13) still exists, mists that act as toners, serums, and vitamin activators have completed upended the market on luxury hydrating sprays. Being both refreshing and moisturizing, these face mists 2.0 are multitasking, prepping the skin for deeper absorption of products, plumping the complexion with vitamins, minerals, and anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid, protecting and purifying the face from environmental pollutants, and, of course, toning, calming, and beautifying. These mists should be used post-wash and prior to serums and creams. Because of the convenience of a spray applicator, face mists 2.0 are perfect for on-the-go touchups… anywhere (like the gym or post-work).
1. Spray onto a cotton pad and gently swipe across face, neck, and chest for a deeper clean.
2. Spray post makeup to “set” the look and to add a healthy dose of dew (in other words, to un-matte your skin).
3. Spray into the palm of your hand and combine with your favorite moisturizer to a) dilute a heavier cream or b) inject some additional ingredients into the cream.
4. Spray onto hair, chest, neck, even arms to hydrate and refresh.
5. Feel free to mix and match mists for optimal results, and spritz onto your face every few hours for an infusion of healthy ingredients.
Shop a few of our favorite face mists:
Farmaesthetics Cool Aloe Mist ($26) – This award-winning mist contains a simple combination of aloe, lavender, and bergamot for healing inflamed tissue from sun-exposure, burns, or exposure to radiation like lasers. Suitable for all skin types but ideal for sensitive complexions.
Skin Inc. Pure Serum-Mist ($55) – Use on normal, combination, and dry skin types to hydrate, soothe, and calm angry skin due to sensitivity and acne. This product is like a serum in a mist applicator – seriously healing and effective.
Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist ($48) – This celeb-favorite formula leaves the complexion gorgeously glowing. Great to use to “set” makeup as well. Just spritz after makeup application is complete for an all-over healthy, dewy effect. Formulated with 20 percent botanical oils and humectants and infused with a Hadasei-3 Anti-Aging Complex that supports antiaging. Suitable for normal, combination, and dry skin types.
Derma E Purifying Toner Mist ($14) – Ideal for oily, active, or urban skin types, this formula of marine algae and green tea protects against environmental pollutants and rebalances skin for a healthy, youthful glow from the first mist.
Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Skin Energy Hydration Delivery System ($35) – Based on traditional Korean skincare, this mist contains bamboo sap to improve product absorption, 5-Hydra complex™ to protect against daily environmental aggressors, and lotus and green tea extract to tone and hydrate. Leaves a healthy glow to the skin pre or post makeup. Can be used on all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone.
Fresh Rose Floral Toner ($40) – Rosewater, one of nature’s most decadent anti-aging ingredients calms, moisturizes, and clarifies. The aromatic floral water will leave skin healthy, hydrated, and pleasantly scented. Can be used on all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone. (Learn how to create a DIY rosewater mist here).
First Aid Beauty Vitamin Hydrating Mist ($16) – Vitamins to feed your face. Contains B5 to moisturize, vitamin E to nurture and protect, and vitamin C to brighten. This alcohol-free mist does it all: replenishes, hydrates, soothes, and restores. Good for all skin types, even the most sensitive and reactive.