As previously mentioned, I lived in Paris for a few months in 2015 and it was one of the best times of my life. Apart from eating double my weight in pastries and pâté, I was buying French products regularly since I had intentionally brought only a few from home. Some of the items listed are popular cult favorites and some I bought as impulse purchases which is rare because I never buy anything without reading up on reviews beforehand. I should preface that my skin type is not sensitive at all which is why I think I have more flexibility to play around with products. I'm normally combination/oily but at the moment my face is getting really dry because of medication I'm taking, so some things will be targeted for oily types and some things for major hydration but overall everything could be used by any skin type.
There are literally pharmacies on every other street corner but you've probably heard of City Pharma and how it's the place to hit up when you're in Paris. It's built up quite the rep and thus causing hoards of people (mainly tourists) to shop there. City Pharma is especially famed because A) they have a huge inventory and carry everything B) their prices are significantly cheaper. You're bound to find what you need among their two level shop including hard to find items. I had to run out to my neighborhood pharmacy several times to pick up emergency items and I definitely paid a few extra euros compared to City Pharma. They have a huge knowledgable staff to help you locate your items and answer any questions however not everyone is fluent in English. It's crowded at all times so my tip would be to research what you plan to purchase beforehand and make a list that way when you're there you don't become overwhelmed. I'm not the type who likes to browse and take my time especially when people are knocking and pushing into me so whenever I had to go, I went in and out. You can also get a VAT refund once you spend the minimum of €175 so if you know you'll be spending a lot but maybe not that much, ask if your friends and family have some things they'd like you to pick up as well..win win for everyone! It's also located in one of my favorite areas of the city that offers great shopping and restaurants. Cafe de Flore is around the corner and Rue de Grenelle and Rue des Saints-Péres are full of high end boutiques that have less tourists.
One of my first (of many) struggles in Paris was dealing with the hard tap water. I'd never experienced this because in the past I've always stayed in hotels and I guess they have built-in hard water filters because my hair situation was like none other. After a few showers in my apartment my hair started feeling like I hadn't washed it in weeks and at the same time had been applying wax or pomade by the tub - disgusting. It was driving me crazy and I tried red wine rinses with no luck and ACV but I hated smelling like salad vinaigrette throughout the day. I found this Klorane shampoo while browsing a random forum and it was a life saver. It's for for oily hair types and helps to regulate sebum on the scalp. Even using it back in the States it's helped my hair feeling clean for a lot longer.
Sachajuan isn't actually a French brand but I saw it everywhere and did pick this up at a pharmacy. If you're into some volume or a lot of volume and have never tried a hair powder you NEED to try one. It's such a good way of absorbing extra oil but also amping up your roots. I've tried other brands and they either feel too chalky on my hair, application is messy, or don't anything. The Volume Powder by Sachajuan does a great job at creating texture and lifting my roots without leaving the feeling of residue. There is a spray for dark hair but I don't have any problems with this one. The scent is pretty strong when it's first sprayed but mellows to a soft and pleasant one.
I've stopped believing that a cleanser will be any sort of miracle product so now all I expect from mine is that it doesn't leave my skin feeling stripped, but still clean, and doesn't break me out. The Avéne Cleanance gel has a high pH level and it's soap free so it's really gentle. This bottle is also seeming to last forever. I use the tiniest amount, not even a dime size, and it lathers up great. I always use a make up remover before my cleanser so I can't say if this is good at taking off make up. If you have difficulty with skincare products aggravating your skin, you should check out Avénes range because they mainly target ultra sensitive skin types.
I think everyone and their mother has heard of Bioderma Créaline H20 at this point but if you haven't, they're for cleansing skin and you don't have to rinse! I've tried to use them as make up removers and it wasn't sufficient so what I love them for is removing any residual eye make up that may be lingering after I wash my face and also removing lipstick. I soak a q-tip and it comes right off without transferring color outside my mouth. The smaller bottles are perfect for traveling.
La Roche Posay Serozinc: I came to know this product when it was gifted to me and it's a spray toner for acne prone skin. Aided by mainly zinc, which is known for helping to calm down activity on the face. It doesn't do anything really significant but it's one of those products that when I didn't use it, I noticed the balance in my skin was sightly off. So it's become sort of habit to keep it in my routine and it's refreshing to spritz my face with it after cleansing. It used to be impossible to find outside of France but now the company's website ships to the U.S.
Hydraphase Legere: One weekend while visiting my boyfriend in Rome, my skin started to act up and it was super dry around my chin and my regular moisturizer which was the only one I had brought just wasn't cutting it. I popped into a pharmacy and asked for something that was super rich in texture, and very emollient. I prefer cremes like that because then I feel like my skin is actually hydrated and won't flake off. The pharmacist instead recommended this moisturizer, the texture is actually very light. It contains Hyaluronic Acid and even though it's supposed to "intensely" quench thirsty skin, it's something I personally wouldn't be able to use all year round. In the summer when it's more humid this will be perfect to wear alone.
Effaclar Mat: Over the last few years I've learned that despite the fact heat my skin type is oily I'm not a fan of mattifying products, especially moisturizers. They leave a slick feeling like there's silicone in there and I'm just not a fan. But this one doesn't do that and leaves my face feeling more matte and a nice canvas for foundation.
Baume B5: A multi-purpose creme, this is super heavy in texture and quite rich. Some people use it as a daily moisturizer but not only is the tube pretty small, I don't see the point of that. It's used for healing skin that's been treated chemically (i.e. peels) irritated areas, super dry skin, lips, and so much more. I like waxing at home with Nads (I've been a faithful fan since high school) but in Paris all I could find were either the bricks you have to melt down (no thanks, so inconvenient) or the pre-coated fabric strips that you rub between your hands to warm up. I bought a pack of Veet, the most common brand I saw in grocery stores and used a strip on my underarms only to horrifyingly peel off a layer of skin of my right armpit. That night I was in pain but it was nothing like the forthcoming days; my skin was SO red and SO painful and becoming blistered. Also being in hot and humid conditions wasn't helping the irritation. After trying pure aloe vera which did nothing, I bought a tube of this and rubbed it on my poor pit twice a day and it most definitely sped up the healing process. Also great for those of you who pick at your zits, it'll help heal them and prevent scarring and just any type of cut in general - it's replaced Neosporin for me. It's super versatile and I'd recommend everyone get one! A little goes a long way with this stuff.
Unfortunately I think the majority of Sanoflore products is impossible to find online and outside of France at reasonable prices, so they're a brand you should look into your next trip there. Their products are all based on the beneficial properties of botanicals. I was given a sample of the Essence Merveilleuse, an anti-aging oil that helps skin regenerate while you sleep which is how I came to be familiar with Sanoflore. I've had oils in my medicine cabinet for some time and would use them on and off, but now I've become really strict with using them at night. In the morning skin is plumper and any anti-aging product I use is a preventative since I don't have any fine wrinkles yet so I guess they're all working? I rotate between a few but the scent of this is so good so it's a nice treat to use before bedtime.
The Elixir des Reines is a serum made from royal jelly that I use right after washing my face and before moisturizer. I picked it up because I've heard of how great royal jelly is and I've never used a product with it so I wanted to try it out. It's really light and absorbs quickly, but this product also has an amazing scent..it's pretty sweet like floral candy.
I'm like Goldilocks when it comes to body lotion. I like them to be emollient but not too emollient. I like them to leave my skin slightly greasy (am I the only one?) but texturally they shouldn't be too stiff and creamy. Scent is also really important, nothing too sweet or heavy. Topicrem is exactly that and has since become my holy grail moisturizer. I can't praise it enough, it's sooo good. I think it smells similar to Keri's original moisturizer, if my memory serves me correctly..I might be wrong. But I love Keri's fragrance anyway.
I picked Granado's Manteiga Emoliente up during one of my many trips to Le Bon Marché so it's not a pharmacy product and it's also Brazilian, not French. It's a super thick creme for dry spots like feet and elbows or in my case, hands during the winter. But the smell is what I'm obsessed with..freesia, orange blossom, patchouli, jasmine and some other good stuff.
I first heard of Biafine when reading an interview with Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele and she listed it as a beauty staple of hers. It's a thick formula used to treat superficial cuts, sunburns, and any burn in general which is why I picked up a tube, because I was definitely getting injured quite a bit. It can be used like Neosporin is and some people seem to use it pretty regularly but it's a medicinal creme so I don't think it's a good idea to be applying it often. It has an interesting scent..it reminds me of when I walk into a laundromat - is the best way to describe it. Hard to find for a decent price in the U.S.
Sampar products target the modern day woman living in an urban landscape (hey, that's me!) and uses formulas that help skin against the damaging effects of pollution. They have some interesting exfoliants which is what both of these are and I use them both in the evening. The Equalizing Foam Peel can be used up to three times a week. You apply, let sit for two minutes, lather it into a foam and then rinse off. It's a gentle exfoliant that I don't use to significantly remove dead skin but to clear out my pores and hit the refresh button on my complexion for brightness and softness. However, it does smell pretty strong, like herbal medicine.
The Noctural Rescue Mask is my favorite out of the two. Apply it to cleansed skin under moisturizer and you rinse it off in the morning. I'm never too sure of whether or not serums will be effective on top of products like this, so I just skip them on the nights I apply this mask. It helps with breakouts, softens, tightens pores and mattifies skin. Smells exactly like honey and roses..yum.
If you're a fan of overnight lip treatments, then you'll love Nuxe's Reve de Miel citrusy smelling lip balm. It's very thick but not sticky, and it goes on matte so it's great for under lipsticks. However, if your lips are the least bit flaky the balm will clump between them and make them look worse so I love this when my lips are smooth and exfoliated. It's not an overnight formula but that's when I like to use it best because it really stays on and I wake up with super hydrated and plump lips.
For me, there's really no other reason to pick up a bottle of the Huile Prodigieuse other than the sake of smelling AMAZING. It's actually a major cult product with a bottle selling like every twenty seconds or something. It's a dry oil so it absorbs quickly and can be used for baths, in hair, face and body. The scent was so popular that Nuxe even released a perfume. I used it for my hair but now I'm saving it for the summer when I can apply it to my body because that's exactly what it smells like, but not in a cheesy tropical Hawaiian Sun tanning oil way.
It was only in 2015 that I started to pay attention to Hyaluronic Acid, mainly in moisturizers. But I realized that the potency of HA was actually weak in these products, they weren't putting in concentrated amounts. Upon the temporary discontinuation of Avibon, the site directed me to this, Ialuset, pure Hyaluronic Acid. If you aren't familiar with why this stuff is so good for your skin..look it up. I take a pea size of product, warm it up between my fingers so that it slightly melts and apply it. At first it'll feel very heavy but it sinks into the skin quickly and I layer a moisturizer on top. I'm sure you could use it on it's own but since it dries to feeling very smooth, I like something else over it. I use it both day and night and I've absolutely been loving it and one of the products that I highly recommend.
I'll keep the info on Homeoplasmine succinct: it is the BEST LIP BALM EVER. I love it so much.