French Pharmacy Beauty Must Haves
When I lived in Paris, I discovered the magic of the French pharmacy. Marked by a green cross, these stores sell your expected pharmacy goods like first aid and over-the-counter medicines, as well as some incredible beauty finds. At French pharmacies, you can find very high quality skincare and beauty products for incredibly reasonable prices. I’m particularly fond of brands like Avene, LaRoche-Posay, Vichy, and Nuxe. These are among the classic French skincare brands, and although you can find a limited selection of some of their product lines in the US, you can find some really great products at French pharmacies that aren’t available stateside! The French products that you can buy at home are often much cheaper in France, too (if you go to the right pharmacy). Here are my French pharmacy beauty must haves! (These also make great souvenirs- bring home a little French luxury you’ll use everyday!) I’m sorting them by category- skincare, hair, cosmetics, and body products, so you’ll know what to look for when searching for your French pharmacy beauty must haves! First, here are some basics about French pharmacies that you need to know.
Preparing for your first visit to France? Check out my guide to visiting France for the first time.
Pharmacies and Parapharmacies
In France, you’ll notice that there are two types of “pharmacies” that sell similar goods- pharmacies and parapharmacies. You can only find legitimate medicines (aka non-homeopathic medicines) at pharmacies. So, if you’re looking for some medication, head to a pharmacy. Parapharmacies can’t sell most medicines, but they can sell first aid products, essential oils, skincare, and more. In my experience, some parapharmacies have better skincare and beauty selections than pharmacies!
Where to Find Pharmacies (and Parapharmacies)
Look for the green cross- this is the universal sign for a pharmacy. In Paris, there are several giant pharmacies that sell a large selection of beauty products. CityPharma on Rue du Four in the 6th Arrondissement is one of the most popular pharmacies, and it has a great selection, but it also draws huge crowds. My personal favorite is Pharmacie Bader near Saint Michel because it has a great selection, great prices, multilingual staff, and it was not as crowded as CityPharma. If you spend more than 175 euros, they will give you everything you need to file for the VAT refund when you leave the country, so just make sure to ask!
French Pharmacy Beauty Must Haves
Without further ado, here’s my list of French pharmacy beauty must haves!
FYI, this list contains affiliate links that take you to the Amazon page for the products so you can purchase them stateside! I earn a small commision from these links at no extra cost to you.
- Bioderma Crealine Micellar Water– This micellar water is one of the original micellar waters, and it is great! I have used it twice a day, every day since I first tried it in January 2016. Even though micellar waters have become more popular in the US in recent years, this is still the best, in my opinion. It takes off all your makeup and any grime left on your face without any oily residue. I use the one with the pink cap! This is probably #1 at the top of my French pharmacy beauty must haves list!
- Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre– Makeup artists have used this moisturizing creme for years to prepare models’ skin for makeup application! I love how this creme sinks into my skin and makes it feel soft and supple without feeling greasy. I can’t use it every day because it’s a bit heavy for my normal skin, but I love using this during the winter or when my skin is feeling a little thirsty. This cream also makes a fantastic hydrating primer under makeup.
- Nuxe Lip Balm– This is my favorite lip balm of all time. I apply this every night before I go to sleep and wake up with beautiful, soft lips!
- Caudalie Beauty Elixir– This facial spray is one of the most popular French pharmacy products! It has a refreshing, spa-like scent, and it helps to tone and moisturize your skin.
- LaRoche Posay Sunscreen– There are so many great sunscreens in France, and LaRoche Posay makes some of my favorites! There are different formulas based on skin type, and they’re made for sensitive skin!
- Avène Eau Thermale Water Spray– Facial sprays are very common in France, and pretty much every brand makes their own version of a facial spray! This is one of the most popular facial sprays in France. I like this spray because its made of thermal water, which is supposed to be great for your skin. Put this in your refrigerator during the summer for a calming way to cool down and refresh on a hot day.
- Klorane– This is the best affordable French haircare brand! This brand is most famous for their oat milk dry shampoo (which I love), but they also have great shampoos and conditioners! This is one brand that is much cheaper in France than in the US. My full-size Klorane dry shampoo was 7.99 euros when I bought it at the French pharmacy (in July 2018), and it retails for $20 at Sephora in the US.
Several French skincare brands have expanded to include cosmetic beauty products. I don’t have a ton of experience in French cosmetics (I tend to buy more skincare abroad and stick to my makeup from home).
- LaRoche-Posay Skin Tints– This isn’t the official name of this product, because there are several iterations of lightweight skin tints from LRP based on different skin types. I bought the Effaclar Duo light skin tint most recently because it’s great for acne-prone skin! It gives very light coverage while working to clear your skin and reduce imperfections!
- Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil– This body and hair multipurpose oil is a cult favorite in France. It moisturizes your body and hair and makes you feel super soft. I do find that this oil has a bit of a greasy residue, but that’s somewhat expected since it is an oil. It also has a strong scent in my opinion, so that is something to be aware of if you’re scent-sensitive!
- Vichy Ideal Body Serum Milk– This thin but effective moisturizer gives your skin a beautiful, healthy glow! I love the slight shimmer that it gives my legs!
French Pharmacy Beauty Must Haves
French pharmacies (and parapharmacies) have all sorts of amazing beauty and skincare products, and you can find lots of high quality products at reasonable prices! If you love skincare, or if you want to bring home some interesting souvenirs that you can use everyday, definitely visit a pharmacy and check out these products! Many pharmacists can speak some English, but if you have specific skin concerns or allergies, makes sure to look up the French translation before you go!
Are there any beauty products unique to your home country? What would you buy in France?