Saturday, March 16, 2013

French Pharmacie: The Secret to French Beauty, Part 2

Time for part 2 of French pharmacie products! I've got some more must-haves  to tell you guys about, but first, if you haven't read part 1 yet, go here.

The more I've been making French pharmacie products part of my daily skin routine, the more happy I've been with my skin. While each product varies in terms of effectiveness and my enjoyment in using it, overall I've had more success with French skincare than anything I have purchased in the past at Canadian pharmacies.

There are a few general things that really stand out about them. First of all, they seem to universally be non-irritating. I'm pale and pink to begin with, so my skin definitely isn't hardy. It doesn't like things that are too oily (it'll break out), too harsh (it'll develop dry patches) or that have too much perfume (I've been known to have the odd allergic reaction and rash). So far I haven't had any of these problems with a single one of the French products I've tried.

Secondly, the textures. Oh, mon dieu! The creams are luxurious, the cleansers are smooth and the toners are refreshing and cooling. They each leave my skin feeling like a million bucks. Which brings me to my final point - the scents. See, here you can kind of tell the drug store vs. high end products. Drug store products have an over-abundance of fake fruity and sweet perfumes that I can't stand - or (if they're for an actual skin problem) they smell distinctly medicinal. Not so with French products. Everything - from the cleansers to the hand creams to the burn creams to the intense ointments - have lovely, delicate scents. They all smell expensive - even if they cost the equivalent of ten bucks.

I'm  falling more and more in love with France every time I wash my face! Here's a few more things for you to try so you can too!

1.  Caudalie - Beauty Grows Here Hand and Lip Set
Caudalie is one of the French brands that has traversed the Atlantic via Sephora to become widely (if expensively) available in North America.This set includes a mini tube of Hand and Nail Cream and a full sized Lip Conditioner stick, both aimed at banishing winter dryness and delicately vineyard-scented.

2. Bioderma - Sensibio H2O
Yes, this is that make-up remover. The one you've heard about from YouTube makeup artists and read about in backstage runway confidentials. It's a very gentle yet effective make-up remover, cleanser and toner. This is popular with makeup artists because it won't irritate sensitive skin, it'll take off all make-up, and it's gentle enough to use multiple times for models who need their make-up re-applied frequently for shows or shoots. It's a bit pricey ($25 CAD, or thereabouts) but a little does go a long way.

3. Nuxe - Lotion Tonique Douce (Gentle Toning Lotion)
I decided, after years of not bothering, that it was time to re-insert a toner into my skincare routine. This is a really gentle one that comes in a pop-top dispenser. Just apply a little bit to a cotton pad and gently wipe cleansed face with it to remove all traces of make-up and re-hydrate skin before applying moisturizer. (Full review here.)

4. Roger & Gallet - Crème Sublime Bois d'Orange Mains et Ongles (Hand and Nail Cream)
Roger & Gallet are a brand best known for creating enchanting scents. This is a hand and nail cream to help with dry skin and rough cuticles. The scent is a deep, heady one with a hint of rich citrus. I'm terrible at describing smells, so if you get a chance to smell this in person.... (Full review here.)

5. Cytol NAT Centella - Crème Dermatologique
Another therapeutic fave, Cytol Nat is for irritated, sensitive or burned skin. You can use it on everything from rashes to eczema to sunburns to post-shave (or wax) sensitive skin to soothe and moisturize. It's got a slightly stronger scent than a lot of the other ones. A tiny bit stronger than I'd prefer, but still not unpleasant.

6. La Roche-Posay - Cicaplast Baume B5
Similar to Cytol NAT and Biafine, this cream is for skin irritations. According to the package, it is for: "Dry skin irritations in adults, children and babies (chapping, rough patches...). Cutaneous heating sensations in adults. Can be applied to body, face and lips. Optimal tolerance, suitable for sensitive skin." Aw, such cute English. Anyway, this is a super-delicate cream for... well, pretty much everything and everyone. It's fragrance-free, too, so if you are someone who can't handle any scents in your products, take this one over Cytol NAT.

7. Bioderma - Atoderm Ultra-Rich Foaming Gel
I like most of the Bioderma Atoderm line - gentle, scent-free products that are great for sensitive skin. This is no exception. It's a blue transparent gel that bubbles up a little bit and cleans skin gently. It's what I consider to be a basic cleanser - not for any particular skin-type or problem, just a good overall wash.

8. Embryolisse - Baume Riche
So remember my rave review of Embryolisse's Lait-Crème Concentré? I am absolutely in love with the stuff. I've used it for morning and night, but because it's winter and because I'm pale and sensitive, I decided I could do with a richer cream for night-time. Enter Baume Riche (or Rich Balm for you English folk). It's exactly what I wanted it to be - identical to Lait-Crème Concentré in every way except richer and a bit thicker. A dream for night-time dry skin. (Full review here.)

9. Nuxe - Aroma-Perfection Gel Nettoyant Purifiant (Purifying Cleansing Gel)
A clarifying face wash for combination and oily skin that's gentle enough to use daily on sensitive skin. I don't have oily skin, but in the summer I do get oilier areas, and occasionally I want something that cuts through the oil on my skin a bit more than my regular sensitive/dry skin washes. This is lovely - smells great and works well.

10. Nuxe - Huile Prodigieuse

Okay, so I have a confession to make. Until I started researching French skincare, I'd never even heard of dry oil. This started popping up in more and more of the blog posts I was reading on the subject though, so I got curious. Turns out it's pretty interesting stuff. I've always hated the feeling of oil on my skin - even for massages. I avoid bath oils, oily creams and anything else that leaves a layer on the skin. But this stuff soaks in nearly immediately leaving only a hint of sheen on the skin, and because it's a liquid instead of a cream it actually feels lighter than a moisturizer. It can also be used for the face, body and hair, making it a multi-purpose gem. Smells lovely, too!

Individual reviews and details on these (and many others!) still to come, and I'll update this with individual links, so stay tuned!

What are your French pharmacie faves? Share in the comments!


  1. I just bumped into your blog! It is very lovely.. I am reading everything you have about French pharmacy, you've made some real good reviews thank you for all these informations :)

    1. Hi Casey - thanks so much! That's great to hear. As you can see, I come and go on this blog (I have a couple of others I work on as well, and I tend to only have time for one at a time), but I'm really glad you found something useful, and I'll try to post some similar posts in the future!


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