Affordable French skincare for va-va-voom glow
We've unearthed eight French pharmacy brands with that certain je ne sais quoi. Here's your passport to a natural glow a la Marion Cotillard... and the best bit? It won't break the bank.
Years back, I would take an empty toiletry bag on holiday to France so I could fill it with skincare gems from those fabulously stark French pharmacies.
But no longer – all the brands that j’adore are now available on our shores or online, and I can fill my boots without a trip across the Channel (which is handy given the current situ).
Love or loathe them there is a certain chic look to French women – fuss-free, natural glowing skin and of course massive pair of shades (probably paired with a fine knit and ankle grazing cigarette pants). So, let’s get one step closer by raiding their bathroom cabinets shall we?
The dermatologist-baked skincare brand, La Roche Posay, is popular for skin conditions from acne to sensitive skin. Reasonably priced and with ranges for every skin type, there’s something for everybody.
Hero product? Time and again celebs and beauty bloggers recommend Toleriane Sensitive Cream Moisturiser (£12.37) to calm and hydrate skin.
New in? Hyalu B5 Aqua Gel SPF30 (£25.87) is a new daily moisturiser that is designed for summer (any day now ladies!), offering light hydration and sun protection.
It’s minimalist, no-fuss packaging takes the no-nonsense ‘does what it says on the tin’ approach and for that Cerave has a huge following.
Hero product? The Moisturising Cream (£4.25) is one of the original line up and is still a best-seller and award winner for its effective formula with ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
New in? The Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser (£11.25) is the new kid on the block and leaves skin feeling super fresh and gets up a seriously satisfying lather.
Nuxe is the go-to brand for the sun-kissed, fresh faced Frenchie look. The naturally-derived products are themed around skin type – combination, ageing, sensitive etc so you can quickly get stuck into the product range to suit your skin.
Hero product? The Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse(£18.50) for face/body/hair is the best-seller for its non-oily hydration and botanicals.
New in? Nuxe has launched a Very Rose range using rose water. I like the Light Cleansing Foam (£15.50) for its gentle cleansing and gorgeous scent
Avène has it’s own natural spring in the eponymous village in the Haut-Languedoc. The natural healing waters were said to have once cured a horse of a nasty skin ailment after it drank the water. Hay, if it can work equine magic, we’re willing to give it a go (neigh more of those, we promise…). Especially good for skin with problems like psoriasis and eczema.
Hero product? Avène Thermal Water Spray (£13) – its legions of fans from celebs to beauty bloggers (one bottle sells every two seconds globally) rate this for calming irritated skin and to soothe sunburn (we can but hope we have a need for this one day…)
New in? Intense Protect SPF 50 (£20) is a rather clever new organic filter suncream that is a barrier to all the various spectrums of harmful sunlight (who knew?) as well as being designed not to harm ocean flora and fauna.
If you love French wine as much as the skincare, you’re onto a winner with Caudalie, the brand born out of Bordeaux grape seeds. Found to be an effective antioxidant, the seeds are at the core of all the brand’s products (if you fancy a real deep dive, there’s a ‘Vinothérapie’ spa at the family’s vineyard – now that’s my kind of therapy).
Hero product? Caudalie Beauty Elixir (£12) was launched in 1997 and remains a bestseller, used at fashion shows as a fixing spray on top of make up, as a toner, or to freshen up on a flight (remember those?).
New in? Natural deodorant is having a bit of a moment right now so Caudalie’s launch of its Vinofresh Natural Stick Deodorant (£13) is well timed – it’s free from aluminium, alcohol, silicone and bicarbonate of soda and contains organic grape water.
Bioderma is a favourite among women with sensitive skin, and is another French skincare company with a focus on skin health and sustainability. It was originally conceived as a brand of medical products to be recommended by dermatologists but you don’t need a prescription any longer.
Hero product? A bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Water (£15.80) sells every three minutes, such is its fanbase. Loved as a make up remover, spritz and toner.
New in? Sébium Night Peel (£16.50) contains glycolic acid to offer a gentle peel effect for combination to oily skin with blemishes.
Spotted on sun loungers across the Riviera, Lancaster is a go-to brand for fancy SPF, but it’s not as pricey as you think, especially if you go for facial SPF products.
Hero product? Lancaster Infinite Bronze Face Bronzer SPF15 (£18) is a best seller because of its natural sun-kissed bronzing magic – and who doesn’t need that right now…
New in? If your skin is prone to redness and sensitivity, the new Sun Sensitive Face and Body After Sun Repair Balm (£23) is a soothing hydrator if you got a little carried away in the rays.
Vichy has been going almost 100 years is a stalwart of French pharmacies. It utilises more magic French water – this time the volcanic, along side acids and other dermatologist-derived good stuff.
Hero product? Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydration Booster (£30) gets its name from the 89% concentration of mineralizing water, plus the acid which forms a hydrating barrier.
New in? Vichy LiftActiv Supreme H.A. Epidermic Filler (£32) … sciencey name plus filler? Sounds like a winner, and has a growing fanbase already.