In the past, there were about two kinds of skin care, things you bought from the pharmacy and things you bought from the department store. In the last few years, a third niche emerged, French pharmacy items. When I worked in skin care years ago, I recall going to the coordinators and lobbying them to include Bioderma Sensibio H20 in the inventory, as it had become a hot item this side of the Atlantic. Every online and print beauty publication was hailing its powers to quickly get makeup off one’s face. By now, I’d like to think that more people are aware of the brand, as its popularity has crested and still manages to maintain buzz inside and outside of the pharmacy category.
While this post does not include items from Bioderma as it’s been years since I’ve used anything from the brand, it does include three items that I think most people already have a version of.
Klorane Floral Lotion Eye Makeup Remover with Soothing Cornflower
I fell hard for this eye makeup remover the first time I used it. With just a whiff of floral scent at the back-end and similar to water in terms of how it feels, it gently removes mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, eyelid primer and all of their friends. It is also oil-free and makes removal easy and tug-free. I also like to saturate a cotton bud and use that to tackle the roots of my eyelashes, a place we often neglect to ensure is truly free from mascara and eyeliner residue.
This gentle makeup remover is especially good if you have sensitive eyes or wear contact lenses, plus it boasts a similar pH to human tears. Klorane is part of the Pierre Fabre family of companies that boast a dizzying array of well-known and well-loved brands such as Avene, producer of the ultimate face refresher and skin soother Avène Thermal Spring Water. Klorane is a botanically based brand that’s been at it since 1965 and has received awards for their pioneering work towards environmental preservation. With such a soothing formula based on cornflowers grown in the south-west of France, the formula is as good now as it was when I began using it several years ago. If you have yet to try this straightforward and effective eye makeup remover, it’s worth considering especially as it comes in two sizes so trying it out before you commit to the larger size is a breeze. Klorane also makes soothing and relaxing eye patches using cornflower that are just as effective as some of the big-ticket ones out there and I can assure you that they are invaluable and even better when you let them sit in the fridge before using.
CicaBiafine Anti-Irritation Body Moisturising Cream
At some point or another, the skin on our bodies benefit from a no-frills but effective hydration cream or balm that has the power to heal cracked skin, dehydrated skin, irritated skin or skin that just needs an extra coddle. This hydrating body cream from Biafine, another stalwart French pharmacy brand is gentle enough to also be used on babies. I tend to have dry skin specifically on my calves and this helps to hydrate the area and make it less parched. Yes, I am guilty of very hot showers when I’m extremely tired and just want my bed. But we know that hot showers are absolutely not a good idea ever, as they rob your skin of moisture and dry it out. Plus, if you wash your hair in the shower, the same rule applies in that hot water dries your hair.
What sets CicaBiafine apart is the hydrating and restorative formula which includes allantoin, bisabolol and panthenol.
- Allantoin comes from plants such as chamomile and beets and can also be engineered.
- Bisabolol is also derived from chamomile and humans have been aware of its skin healing properties for centuries.
- Panthenol is not derived from plants but instead, comes from a component of honey. It’s a non-toxic, common ingredient in topical skin care preparations that hydrates and reduces skin irritation, plus it might be in the formula of your favourite mascara.
I apply CicaBiafine right out of the bath to seal in moisture. With any lotion, cream or balm, the key time to apply is when you step out of the bath or shower in order to reduce moisture loss from the skin. CicaBiafine has really helped to reduce the dryness on my calves especially and if you’re averse to fragrance, this formula has none. For days at the seaside or if you or your family have been outdoors all day and had too much sun, this cream is superb as an après-soleil (after sun) cream. CicaBiafine is also free of dyes and hypoallergenic, plus I love it for my hands. Therefore, its value of is directly related to its versatility.
Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm
If I can simply type heart emojis to describe this lip balm, I would. When I discovered it more than five years ago, I was completely and utterly surprised by how well and how quickly it works to hydrate lips. There are no short-lived effects with this, nor is it the type of product that gives you an initial feeling of hydration only to disappear in three minutes.
Let’s roll it back a bit though. Nuxe is a Woman created company that came to life via intuition and belief. It is the brainchild of Aliza Jabès, a French national who took a formulating lab in Paris and used it as a springboard for her company. Nuxe now has product distribution in more than seventy-five countries and harnesses the power of plants with innovative technologies to create a brand that is very French yet exceedingly approachable and wallet-friendly. It’s safe to classify Nuxe as a brand with a cult following, yet it’s easily accessible online and at some bricks and mortar stores. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another one of Nuxe’s standout and best-selling products, which is their Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse®. This is an oil I’ve used many times and I can tell you it goes right into the skin and does not leave any uncomfortable, slick, cloying residues behind. There’s also a shimmery version that’s beautiful during sundress season.
And so, as a result of following where her instincts led her and believing in the need for a company such as this, Nuxe has come to stand for excellence. Madame Jabès has since become a multi-award winner, thereby reinforcing the power of her products and the trails she has blazed with her business.
Now to the lip balm that outperforms similar products in the pharmacy category. This is also a multi-use product, such as a lip mask or exfoliator when combined with a bit of sugar, or as a pre-lipstick or lip gloss primer. Usually, lip balms make lipsticks move around and slide off. But somehow, Nuxe has managed to formulate this lip balm in such a way that it’s a better alternative to a dedicated lip primer. Nuxe Rêve de Miel settles down and creates an even base for lipstick or lipgloss application and protects your lips as well.
Beautifully formulated with honey, sweet almond oil, lemon peel oil, allantoin and shea butter among other elements, the texture of this lip balm is light and goes right in without sitting on the lips. There’s no overly gloss sheen that fakes hydration. Instead, the finish is one of your lips, looking as well as they can. There is a slight whiff of grapefruit and lemon but you only detect that when you hold the jar to your nose. Plus, this balm can last the better part of a year and it’s small enough to fit in your everyday bag or in a small evening bag. Added to the value and multi-purpose uses of this lip balm is the fact that it can also be applied to any dry patches on the face.
These three French pharmacy items are basic and simple but win major points for their formulation and variety of uses. If you’re worried about accessibility, an online search will lead you to the right purchase channels. Of course, if you have any favourite French pharmacy brands you’re already using, I’d love it if you shared them here or on social.