What to buy when you stumble upon a pharmacy in France.
I love raiding French pharmacies. French skincare brands tend to have very good formulas that just work – and at very good price points. Some of the following can be purchased locally, but at double the prices, which is why I make sure to stock up whenever I’m in France.
1 – Best Sunscreen: LA ROCHE-POSAY Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50+
The La Roche-Posay (LRP) Anthelios XL SPF 50+ has Mexoryl, a chemical sunscreen ingredient with the broadest UV filter and is photostable – meaning it won’t degrade under sunlight. Besides Mexoryl, this sunscreen is packed with other UV filters, making it one of the best sunscreens in the market today.
This version is meant for sensitive skin. It’s a liquidy lotion that spreads and absorbs easy. It’s not greasy, but it doesn’t dry the skin out either. My brown skin loves that it doesn’t leave me ashy and foundation does not break up over it.
I love the packaging – the hard-shell flatter rectangular shape meant that it is sturdy yet able to squeeze into any bag without taking much space. Ticks all the boxes for travel-friendliness for me.
2 – Best Morning Cleanser: Bioderma Crealine Micellar
I purchased this because I needed a gentle face cleanser for my mornings. For the past year or so, I skipped the traditional face cleanser + water combo in the morning, and used only water – this actually did my skin some good. I got the micellar to amp my cleanliness just a bit, because I need to stop deluding myself that my morning face glow is not… oil and sweat. Micellar was the perfect solution. It’s gentle, gets rid of excess oil and dirt without drying out the skin. Also it smells a bit like baby powder, which comforts me for some reason.
Apparently, it’s a good makeup remover. I tried using this a long time ago as a makeup remover… And absolutely hated it. I can never get all my makeup off in one sitting. To get everything off, I had to swipe my face multiple times with multiple pieces of cotton pad to really get rid of everything. It is gentle, sure – if you can get everything off in a single swipe.
Unless you use very minimal makeup – and I mean very minimal, like only loose powder on your skin – this stuff cannot be your daily makeup remover. I’m not even convinced that it’s good to remove sunscreen actually. So to its claims as a makeup remover… I would like to respectfully debunk.
3 – Best Overnight Lip Mask: Ultra Nourishing Nuxe Lip Balm Reve de Miel
Nuxe Body Dry Oil is supposedly a must-get, but I’ve tried it against regular coconut oil and thought it felt and looked the same. Coconut oil is a lot cheaper and has an added boost of sun protection, albeit abysmal, of about SPF 5.
The Nuxe Lip balm however, is luxurious. I slather this on when I sleep, and I wake up to… disgustingly flaky lips. Which, after wiping it away, reveals the most plump, hydrated and sexy lips. This also smells amazing, thanks to its main ingredient, honey.
This leaves a waxy feel, as opposed to a slippery base, so this is perfect for applying liquid lipsticks on top and have it stay true-to-colour. I say it’s a great overnight lip mask, but it’s a great lip balm too. I don’t tend to bring it out because the jar is heavy.
4 – Best Lip Balm: Homeoplasmine
I did find a great day lip balm in the multi-purpose balm Homeoplasmine. Except for smelling (and tasting) amazing and being slightly more emollient, the Homeoplasmine works about the same as the Nuxe lip balm. This is also half the price of the Nuxe.
The Homeoplasmine also leaves a waxy matte texture, making it a great primer for under lipsticks too. I like the tube it comes in, which makes it more sanitary to dispense the balm. This is amazing for travel.
I don’t exactly know what’s in this stuff, since everything on the tube and package is in French, but Google tells me it’s a homeopathic treatment with plant extracts and an antiseptic ingredient. This was originally developed to soothe sore nipples for breastfeeding moms. I say if it’s good for crackly nips, it’s good for my lips.
5 – Best Acne Buster: La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo
Oooh I love using this. I get hormonal bumps and pesky redness around my chin area, especially during that time of the month. This stuff has managed to clear that area up. My nose with its swarm of blackheads was also noticeably much smoother whenever I use this. Over time, it supposedly can decrease pore size.
I use this only occasionally, since I have my Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50. I do not recommend using them together; I tried and doing that only irritated my skin a hell lot. I picked up an additional tube with SPF while in France.
Note that the French and US versions of the Effaclar Duo contain different ingredients. I’ve not tried the US version, so I cannot attest to it, but the French version is purportedly better than the US one. The US version contains Benzoyl Peroxide, which is an intense acne-fighting ingredient that is also extremely drying.The French version leverages on Salicylic acid to gently slough off skin, which means that even those who are not acne-prone can benefit from it.
Those are my top finds in a French pharmacy. I’d love to try new stuff though, comment below for recommendations!