A French pharmacy is a weird place, in that it’s more an extension of a doctor’s office than a CVS-style one-stop-shop for medicine, lawn chairs, sunscreen, milk, frozen dinners, eyeliner, magazines, and Diet Coke. You can get sunscreen and nothing else on this list. Well, medicine, too.
A typical French pharmacy will have plenty of “beauty” products, but you may be surprised to discover that they’re entirely skincare products.
At only a handful will you find so much as mascara. Lip balm, maybe, not lipstick. And exactly zero products with glitter.
What that means is that even at a skincare product mecca like City Pharma (pictured above, and it’s as grim as it looks), you’ll be faced with walls filled with products — mostly in rather plain white packaging. Most of them look more or less interchangeable, so it helps to have a little of intel on what’s worth buying and what’s just another boring day cream. Here, my picks.
1. Anthelios 60 Face & Body Melt In Sunscreen Milk: It’s not shiny, and it is doesn’t make my skin break out, which is basically all I ask of my sunscreen (and which is a surprisingly hard combo to find).
2. La Roche-Posay Iso-Urea MD Baume Psoriasis: This is one of the few products that’s made a dent in my dad’s (severe) psoriasis. This can be harder to find here than other La Roche-Posay products, so look around.
3. Avène Cicalfate: I know a million people who swear by Avène’s Thermal Water, but I just can’t get there. On the other hand, the Cicalfate is great for super-dry skin that hurts due to dryness, a scrape, etc.
4. Caudalie Vinoperfect Serum: I went to a Caudalie spa on a press trip once and it was probably the best skincare experience of my life. I see their Vinoperfect Serum as equitable to Good Genes— in my experience Good Genes is more effective, but the Caudalie feels gentler.
5. Bioderma Sensibio Water: Of all the micellar waters, this is the micellar water.
6. Biafine 93g Cream: This is another product that’s every list like this — but if you’re recovering from a burn or injury and want something a little more powerful than the Cicalfate, this is your deal.
7. Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre: This is a nice, heavy moisturizer. Officially it’s for dry skin, but I like to wear it on airplanes (where everyone has dry skin).
8. Klorane Biodegradable Wipes With Cornwater : This brand is better known for its hair care products, but I love these makeup removing wipes — I leave them in my suitcase and am pleasantly surprised when I find them there on a trip, after I leave my makeup remover at home.
9. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or: The degree of shimmer — that barely-there shimmer — is perfect. If you’re anti-shimmer, you can get it sans-or.
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