August 23 2014

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Drugstore Discovery of the Week: French Pharmacy Finds


In France, where good skincare trumps expensive makeup—there’s more of a “solve the problem, rather than cover it up” mentality—the pharmacy is king. Sure, there are loads of Sephoras from which to procure your favorite upmarket, niche cosmetics, but the regular old drugstore has a wealth of options to keep your complexion blemish-, wrinkle-, and oil-free. And thanks to the wonder that is globalization, many of the country’s best-kept skin secrets have been imported to the U.S., making Avène, Nuxe, Biotherm, Lierac, Klorane, and La Roche-Posay nearly household names. Others, however, remain without distribution deals, rendering them that much more coveted a souvenir.
While in Paris for the shows, I headed out to La Pharmacie on the corner of Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte right off Boulevard Saint-Germain on the recommendation of a friend who called it “the best-priced beauty pharmacy in town”—which, for the record, must be widely known; at 10 a.m. on a Monday, the place was packed with locals and tourists alike. In a painfully anglicized accent, I asked a saleswoman to direct me toward “Les choses que ne puis pas acheter en Les États-Unis” (high school French coming through!) and subsequently test-drove a lion’s share of new brands. Here, the report from my haul.

What: Bioderma Solution Micellaire Créaline TS H20

Why: This is the makeup remover of choice not just for Parisiennes but for the world-class makeup artists that pass through their fine city during PFW. Lucia Pieroni does not go to shows without it, and that’s all the proof I need of its efficacy.

Meh or Yeah: Yeah. It’s great at removing eye makeup without leaving behind an oily residue, so if you can only remain conscious for a single part of your skincare regimen after a long day of shows, you won’t go to bed with greasy skin. It’s less effective at removing lip stains because of it, but I reserve the hard stuff for that job anyway.

What: Avibon Vitamin A Ointment

Why: A publicist friend said that this is a must-purchase while in Paris and that her middle-aged father swears by it for keeping his wrinkles at bay. An emollient retinol, it also helps boost clarity and hydration. And Gwyneth is a fan.

Meh or Yeah: Yeah. The ointment is super-thick and yellow and therefore super-questionable at first. But I slathered it onto my face anyway and when I didn’t break out, I kept using it to the tune of smoother, softer skin. It also seemed to help minimize some unfortunate pigmentation issues I’ve been having on my forehead, which is a huge bonus.

What: Rogé Cavaillès Soin Hydratant Corporal

Why: I ran out of body lotion in Paris and since I got into the habit of taking baths every night at 3 a.m. (damn you, jet lag), getting something to replace my Kiehl’s body cream was essential. I liked this one because its packaging reminded me of Queen Helene Cocoa Butter, which I love.

Meh or Yeah: Meh. It’s not nearly as emollient as Queen Helene and its fragrance is really overbearing—which in my mind equals skin-irritating. This one is worth passing on.

What: Homeoplasmine

Why: Pretty much every makeup artist, Francophile, and international beauty junkie swears by the one-time nipple cream that has become a go-to for chapped lips and dry patches.

Meh or Yeah: Yeah. Unsurprisingly, it’s as awesome as they say and the aluminum tube is really satisfying to use.

What: B Com Bio Organic Intense Serum Lissant Firmete

Why: The pharmacy clerk recommended it and it’s an all-natural brand that I’ve never seen before, thus piquing my interest. Plus, I don’t have a serum in my regimen and this one is packed with hyaluronic acid, which is great for combating parched winter skin.

Meh or Yeah: Yeah. The thin fluid absorbs quickly and seems to tone on contact.

What: Sanoflore 24H Sans Concession Déodorant Roll-On

Why: Because it translates to 24 Hour No Compromise Deodorant, which is hilarious. The compromise it’s referring to is most deodorant formulas, which contain alcohol, parabens, and aluminum. Sanoflore is available in the U.S., but it’s way harder to find than the other big French brands, making it OK to get while the getting was good.

Meh or Yeah: Yeah. I don’t usually wear deodorant because I hate how it feels and I don’t like the idea of aluminum seeping into my lymph nodes. But cramped, hot backstage areas demanded an exception, and this one not only worked, but it is 99 percent natural and smells amazing.

What: Placentor Végétal Masque Integral Anti-Age

Why: Another pharmacy clerk recommendation. I love a cloth mask and this one comes with a neck portion too, seeing as in France the neck and décolletage are considered part of the face and are treated with equal importance. The mask’s star ingredient, “plant placenta,” also sounded exotic and exciting.

Meh or Yeah: Meh. Turns out plant placenta is gross. It’s goopy and slimy and made it both difficult to apply this mask and comfortably keep it on.

What: Uriage Crème Teintée Dorée SPF 50

Why: I always wear an SPF product before leaving the house—or in this case, hotel. If it’s a tinted moisturizer to boot, even better. This has SPF 50, which is way more impressive than the SPF 15 I came to Paris with.

Meh or Yeah: Yeah. The golden tint provided the light coverage I needed to minimize imperfections and blotchiness and the sunscreen definitely helped fight free radical damage on those few extra-sunny, semi-warm days this week.



  1. Citygirlinred says:

    Thank you for the tips – when I was in Paris I went to every Pharmacie and loved that they were on every corner. I ended up stocking up on Lirac Bust firming cream and medication. I love your reviews!!

  2. Kimepus says:

    Super! thanks for a great tips) becoming an Guru in make up )) Can you please provide some pric eguidance to the products? a friend of mine is currently in Paris) so I can ask for litl help:)


  3. Circa says:

    LOL, great review

  4. bethanytreanor says:

    This is perfect! I just moved to Paris and the pharamacie you mention is actually the one I am supposed to use (but have yet to go into for fear that I will be COMPLETELY overwhelmed). I can’t wait to try some of these French products!

  5. jullyanne says:

    Please, please tell me what lipstains you use that reqire a special remover , I can’t find one that last through drinks !

  6. Citygirlinred says:

    My current favorites are Lip Fixation by jane iredale – lasted through 4 hours of passionate kissing and Maybelline’s New 24 – that I had to remove with force.

  7. Celia Ellenberg says:

    I LIVE for Josie Maran Magic Markers: Seriously, the best stains I’ve ever used. And they just launched a bunch of new colors! CE

  8. TessV says:

    I miss paris..but was able to find Avibon and several other french skincare products on amazon!

  9. Sadie223 says:

    I love Avibon cream. I use this almost every night on my face. The fine lines on my forehead started to fade.I have large pores and even those have gotten smaller. I ordered some from and I got it 8 days later! I can’t be without this stuff.

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