French pharmacies are as prevalent on the streets of Paris as Starbucks are in every American city. They dot corners and cobblestone streets, alerting everyone to their presence with their iconic neon green cross-shaped lighted signs. It's a foreign phenomenon to Westerners who are used to pharmacies being a place you refill prescriptions and not a mecca for beauty products. But like Sephora and Ulta are beauty havens for us, pharmacies are the French equivalent.
Instead of black-and-red uniforms, those who work in these vast pharmacies (those situated on the corners are usually the biggest and most crowded) are armed with white lab coats and an impressive amount of information and recommendations. If the French beauty look—effortless, involving minimal products—is one you covet, this is a good place to start.
People have been writing about French beauty for years now, and so we know you already know about the wonders of Avène's thermal water (and the Hydrating Emulsion!) and the moisturizing qualities of Nuxe's dry oil and how Bioderma has made micellar water a staple in bathroom cabinets. But there are some brands that I came across when I was in Paris recently that aren't as well-known (or at least aren't written about as often). So, those are what we're highlighting ahead, because if they were deemed good enough to take up space on a French pharmacy's shelf, then they're worthy of being in your shelfie.
Patyka, Huile Absolue Booster Serum, $70, available at Patyka.
Started in the 1920s, the Patyka brand originated with an elixir containing essential and plant oils. Since then, the company has expanded to include a range of face and body products. Most notably, a good portion of the selection is 100 percent vegan, made in France, and certified organic.
Roger & Gallet, Perfumed Soap in Rose, $21.08, available at Amazon.
This fragrance brand, owned by L'Oréal, has been helping French women smell divine since 1862. The company made a name for itself with bath soaps (the first round version to appear on the market) but also has an impressive selection of perfumes available. The brand's shower gel was also on hand in the Airbnb I stayed in, so it's not just one of those products American people think French people use—they really do use it.
Galénic, Confort Supreme Nourishing Night Cream, $61.89, available at Amazon.
When I asked one of the women working at the pharmacy I visited for a recommendation for dry skin, she directed me to this brand. She let me know, perhaps as a way to lure me in, that it's owned by the same company as Avène and that the argan oil that's infused within it is a real miracle worker.
Filorga, Meso-Mask Anti-Wrinkle Lightening Mask, $59, available at Nordstrom.
Another good dry skin option is this brand, which uses hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient in most of its products.
Rogé Cavaillès, Nutrissance Moisturising Body Milk, $37.99, available at Amazon.
While not the brand with the most aesthetically pleasing packaging, Rogé Cavaillès' body products are made specifically for those with sensitive and dry skin in mind (hypoallergenic and free of irritants and parabens), meaning it's a great purchase for the winter months. And, I don't know, in a time where everything else is millennial pink and uses the same font, there's something charmingly retro about this branding, n'est-ce pas?
Taaj, Himalaya Micellar Water, $19.04, available at Amazon.
Bioderma isn't the only French beauty brand that carries a micellar water worth hoarding. This one from Taaj includes ingredients you'll recognize, like chamomile, rosemary, and green tea, all of which are great skin-soothers.
Delarom, Anti-Aging Restructuring Balm, $55.50, available at Amazon.
With aromatherapy at its heart, Delarom's products use Mediterranean ingredients and essential oils that not only add to the effectiveness but also hold calming and purifying abilities.
Sanoflore, Organic Lavender Floral Water, $28, available at Amazon.
You know what might be better than spritzing your face with rose water? Spritzing it with lavender water, preferably right before bed. All of Sanofore's products include organic ingredients from the founders' homeland, so every time you use something from the brand, you can picture yourself in the south of France.
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