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I guess because I'm in Paris this weekend, I've been thinking about French pharmacy skincare. There are a few ride-or-die products I always recommend and have in my own stash so I'm going to share those with you today. I've linked to Escentual because they always have a good deal on and there's currently 1/3 off French pharmacy...
Let's start with Vichy! This is a L'Oreal-owned brand so I was really interested in trying their Vitamin C as an alternative to Skinceuticals (from the same parent company). We know that Vitamin C is great for a lot of things, namely: it's an antioxidant, neutralising free radicals and reducing environmental damage to the skin. It's also great for discolouration and uneven skin tone and this specific form of the ingredient boosts up collagen production in the skin (this is the stuff that gives the skin its bounce and fullness). The recently reformulated Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Vitamin C Serum* | £39 | now comes in this super-airtight packaging to keep this pure-form ascorbic acid as fresh as possible. The Vitamin C is stabilised and boosted-up by the inclusion of fellow antioxidants Vitamin E and pycnogenol. The formula wasn't oxidised (a common issue with this type of Vitamin C) when I cracked it open, it didn't irritate my skin and it delivered more radiant and even skin. It's a little pricier than the other products we'll discuss today but it's also so much cheaper than something like Skinceuticals so I really recommend checking it out if you want a powerful AM well-ageing routine.
Next is an old school classic; I don't use it quite so much these days but I still always have a bottle on my shelf, which is really a testament to how handy it is to have around! The Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water* | from £5.30 | is the original cleansing water and is still one of the most effective formulas on the market. Whilst I personally prefer an oil or balm first cleanse in the evening when I have the option (though something like this is a perfectly-good option when followed with a water-based formula), there are still times when a micellar water is useful. I often reach for this before exercising in the morning so I can remove whatever was on my skin from the night before and put on some sunscreen. They're also great for when you're travelling, you're at a festival or spending a lot of time outdoors or even just if you're at a stage or moment in your life when you may not have the time or energy for a full cleansing routine every single night. The combination of a water-loving head and oil-loving tail of the micelles in this formula help to trap dirt, makeup and sunscreen so it can be wiped away more easily. Just be sure you don't tug around the eye area; I recommend soaking your cotton pads in the water then just holding then against your eyes to soak off te makeup.
A product I really enjoyed last winter and will definitely be reaching for again this season is the Avene Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream* | £19.15. This is a really simple formula made for sensitive skin; it comes out as a light lotion that works for my skin in both the AM and the PM during the colder months (so it's fine to use underneath makeup and doesn't pill with sunscreen). It's formulated with Avene's thermal spring water, so you're getting added minerals where in most formulas there'd just be plain water. Glycerin is a simple but effective humectant, drawing water into the skin and increasing hydration levels. There are lots of fatty ingredients in here too, to replenish, moisturise and soften the skin. Squalane is a great plant-based oil that mimics the oils your skin naturally produces to combat dry skin. There's also beeswax in here to act as an occlusive, sealing in hydration and forming a protective layer against transepidermal water loss. The formula is surprisingly elegant and the ingredients are simple yet functional; perfect for temperamental winter skin.
Next up are two products from Caudalie, a brand I've had a soft spot for for many years. They formulate with grape water from their own vineyards, which I actually visited on holiday. Think of it as 'French pharmacy but make it luxurious' (so most of the products contain fragrance); it's not basic and functional, but there are still some really effective products in the mix. First up is the Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra S.O.S Thirst-Quenching Serum* | £30. This is so much more than your bog-standard hyaluronic acid serum! Alongside that slightly-overhyped-in-my-personal-opinion humectant, we have glycerin and the brand's signature hydrating grape water. There's beta-glucan in here too, which is great for both hydration and for keeping your skin barrier strong and healthy. Plus there's squalane for nourishment and to really help bind in the hydration to make this a more well-rounded formula for soft, hydrated, happy, glowing skin. I also really love the Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra Overnight Recovery Oil* | £30. I've used this product for years because it's softening and nourishing but is lightweight on the skin and never feels greasy or too heavy. It's formulated with Vitamin E (an oil-soluble antioxidant) and plant oils such as jojoba, sunflower seed and of course grape. If you're an oil person and this is a product type you get on with: this formula never fails to leave me with soft, nourished, glowing skin by morning when I apply it as the last step of my evening skincare routine.
Of course it's not a French pharmacy skincare post without La Roche-Posay and I've tried my hardest to narrow down my favourites, but I still have three to discuss today! The first is the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Balm | £8.50. This is my antidote when my skin is having a 'mare! It's in the SOS (Save Our Skin) recovery kit and my bathroom cabinet is never without a tube of the stuff... This is a healing balm for the skin if you're experiencing irritation, sensitivity or a reaction. You can also use it as a preventative measure if you've just used a strong skincare active or if you need to head out on a cold, icy day. It's formulated with panethnol, to help soothe the skin and assist with water retention, zinc to reduce inflammation and redness and Madecassoside, which is the active component of cica (a botanical often found in Korean skincare products), to help soothe and calm the skin. There are also occlusives in here to seal in hydration and form a layer on the skin. It's a kind of creamy balm and it never fails to soothe areas of irritated skin that need some TLC. That's something I tend to use as part of a PM routine, but if you want something lighter and more daytime-friendly: try the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermallergo Fluid* | £19.50. This is more of a lotion that's also amazing for sensitive or sensitised skin. It's another very simple formula and it's honestly one of the only products I've been able to use at skin low points in my life, such as when I had a reaction to laundry detergent and when my skin has been sent haywire by harsh winters. There's glycerin and squalane in here but also shea butter to really deeply moisturise dry patches. Plus we have occlusives for that sealing-in effect, so it's a very simple but well-balanced moisturiser. Lastly (for this brand), I couldn't not mention the La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+* | £19. This is one of the best high-protection facial sunscreens on the market and I buy it every single summer because I can trust it to protect my skin on holiday and when I'm out and about in the sun. This year it was reformulated to enhance the UVA protection. It's a high-strength sunscreen in a lightweight lotion-milk that doesn't leave a white cast on the skin and can be applied and reapplied throughout the day without leaving your skin greasy or pilling up or getting messy. It also has amazing resistance on the skin; of course, if you go swimming you'll need to reapply it, but you can trust this to stay on your skin when you're breaking a sweat.
Finishing up, I just have to mention the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil Spray* | £29.50. I don't know how many bottles of this I've been through but - as someone with very dry body skin - this spray oil never fails to soften my skin and leave it deeply-nourished. I love that it's a dry oil so it doesn't leave a greasy excess or slick on the surface of my skin and it can also be used to moisturise the ends of your hair. The spray bottle makes it quick and easy to apply and the scent is just iconic with notes of vanilla and magnolia. It's a bit of a luxury rather than an everyday essential, but I personally love it!
Have you tried any of my French pharmacy favourites? What are some of yours?