Monday, January 5, 2015

The French Pharmacy: Primp like a Parisian

Until Instagram's Valencia filter can be bottled up, I'm on the hunt for the best skincare products. This is where the French come in...

Gwyneth Paltrow spilled her French Pharmacy beauty and skincare favorites on GOOP back in 2011 and since I have continued to see articles devoted to la pharmacie and products favored by makeup artists, models and beauty junkies alike. High quality at reasonable prices.

It was my mission when I went to Paris last fall to come back with a haul of new goodies to try. The majority of my purchases are listed below and can be found online or at drugstores in the US, but with a higher price tag. Target has recently expanded their skincare section to include La Roche PosayVichy and Nuxe.

It doesn't take much research to learn that the place to go in Paris is City Pharma, widely known for discounted prices. I had a printout (old school, what if my phone died?) with pictures of all the products I wanted to find. I dragged my friend Kate with me for the foreign scavenger hunt. Once we stepped inside, it was mayhem. I can only equate it to Black Friday madness with a never ending supply and crowd.

After a half hour I called it quits and got in line to check out. I didn't want to hold up our crew any longer trying to decide on products that I didn't exactly remember their purpose. Luckily, the pharmacy closest to our flat in St. Michel had comparable prices to City Pharma. I picked up a few more items for myself after some last minute research and also travel size Bioderma, Avene and Nuxe oil for souvenir gifts.

La Roche-Posay Serozinc €4.90 @ City Pharma
Toner for irritated skin. From what I read prior to my trip, this mist is only available in France and the UK. I have yet to try it.

Avene Thermal Spray 10.5 oz €5.65 @ City Pharma, $16.00 @ Amazon
I use this everyday after washing and before moisturizing. Thankfully Avene is readily available because I'm running low. I swear my skin looks so much better since adding this to my routine.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse €10.49 @ City Pharma, $29.00 @ Target
A multi-purpose dry oil. Target added the Nuxe line online in October and it will be in select stores starting in March. My friend has been using hers on her face and loves it. It smells amazing.

Bioderma Two-pack 500ml €15.40 @ City Pharma, 500 ml £9.99 @ Escentual (plus £4.95 shipping costs) or $34.90 at
Gentle makeup remover that doesn't require any rinsing. I'm on the fence about this one because I feel like I have to use so many cotton swabs to get everything off my face and the concept of not rinsing is strange. On the other hand, I like the cool and clean feeling of my skin afterward. I use it once in awhile, but haven't made it part of my daily routine. When I go back to Paris (someday), I would buy it again but I wouldn't spend the extra money to order it online. See Lisa Eldrige remove her makeup with it here.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Two-pack 75ml €19.99 @ City Pharma, 75 ml $28.00 @ Birchbox
A cult favorite moisturizer. I've been using it for the past few months and really love it. I usually change up my skincare each season (depending on how dry my skin), but this will definitely be in rotation. When my stock depletes, I will be ordering this online.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir 1 oz €7.99 @ City Pharma, $18.00 @ Sephora
Face mist, can be used over your makeup for a fresh look. This was an impulsive purchase because I felt like it was a deal to try. I've only used it a few times... so far so good.

Biafine 3.2 oz €5.50 @ City Pharma, 6.5 oz @ Pharmacie Bader
Can be used to sooth burns and minor cuts.

Homeoplasmine €3.50 @ City Pharma
French version of Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour Cream or Vaseline. I've been using it as a lip balm this winter and love it.

*Prices September 2014

City Pharma - 26 rue du Four, 75006 (close to Café de Flore)
Pharmacie Bader - 10-12 Boulevard Saint Michel, 75006 (close to Fontaine Saint-Michel)
Both of these locations are nearby other main attractions... pit stop along the way of your other adventures.

French Pharmacy Tips:
Leave room in your suitcase :)
Read the links below.
Use your phone or a printout to show the pharmacist what you are searching for.
If anything, pick up Biafine and Homeoplasmine for your medicine cabinet. (According to marie claire, Lara Stone is a fan of both.)
Look for popular products sold in two-packs at great prices. I bought some La Roche Posay hand cream and gave one as a gift,
Travel size products make great souvenir gifts.
Most pharmacies are closed on Sundays, plan accordingly.

French Pharmacy Resources:
Into The Gloss: Navigating a French Pharmacy (must read!)

I would love to hear from you if you have tried any of these products or have any favorite French product!


  1. This is a fantastic blog post, and I will be sure to save it! I've always been a beauty addict and would buy French products at Portuguese pharmacies during Summer trips with my parents! I'm addicted to La Roche - Posay Sunscreen .

    1. Agreed, their sunscreen is great! Had it been spring or summer I would have added that to my haul.

  2. I'm seriously so mad at myself that I didn't pick up more when we were in paris over the summer!! i'm saving this post for when I go back or maybe I'll pick the ones you linked to on Amazon up!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston


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