My Favorite French Beauty Products
Not so long ago, to get your hands on French beauty products, you had to trek to a French Pharmacie and buy them in person (or beg a friend visiting France to stock up for you). No longer. French beauty staples can now be found pretty easily Stateside, either online or in specialty boutiques.
Why do you care? Most French products are gentle and nourishing—and impart a very natural result. Thus, they are typically well-suited to those with sensitive skin (or scalps), and, because Europe has stricter formulation regulations than the U.S., are also often cleaner/greener than traditional American products (read more about my thoughts on green beauty here). Finally, they’re French and therefore, well, so tres chic.
I discovered the following French finds on visits to Parisian Pharmacies, courtesy of French friends in the beauty industry—and at the recommendation of other beauty editors. If you have French favorites, I’d love to hear about them too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the Comments, below.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O This uber-gentle Micellar Water (that's a French no-rinse cleanser) is applied with a cotton pad to take off makeup, sunscreen, and end-of-day grime. I also use it as a quick skin refresh in the morning if I’m heading out without showering. This particular formula is ideal for sensitive/sensitized skin, and has been a longtime favorite of American models and fashion editors who discovered it while working in France—then would stuff it in their suitcases on subsequent visits.
Collosol Eau de Lait A French skincare classic introduced in the 1950s, this milky cleanser is applied like a Micellar Water (see above) to remove makeup, moisturize and soothe stinging skin. Rumor has it Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld also uses it in his evening bath to cleanse and hydrate simultaneously.
Leonor Greyl Eclat Naturel This hydrating styling cream smells like cherry Life Savers (thanks to fragrant Shea Butter and Jojoba Oil) and can be used on wet or dry hair. I use it to tame frizz when I’m wearing my hair wavy. It's also a great finishing product to create soft piecey-ness in layered cuts. A little goes a looooong way.
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk If you are a blonde, this is the best dry shampoo out there. It adds volume, erases lank roots and helps camouflage dark regrowth. (Note: if your hair is darker, skip it as it can impart a white cast that would make your hair look dull or grey.)
Homeoplasmine This thick, jelly-like balm is essentially French Aquaphor and can be used for all the same purposes: to protect chapped lips, to soothe sore noses, to soften dry cuticles, etc. I don’t think it’s better than its U.S. counterpart—just chicer.
Christophe Robin Purifying Scrub This gritty hair and scalp cleanser is laced with sea salt and is akin to a gentle (color-safe) clarifying shampoo, removing product buildup and dead skin cells in one fell swoop.
Talika Skincare Masks These sheet masks are made with clingy biocellulose so you can actually walk around (sans slippage) while you’re wearing one. My favorite is the After Sun Mask which is rich in skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and coconut water plus soothing chamomile and arnica. I don’t limit it to the summer though; it’s also an excellent hydrator/skin calmer during long, cold Michigan winters.
Compagnie de Provence Liquid Marseille Hand Soap Made in Provence and a French staple, these clean, classic hand soaps housed in minimalist glass bottles elevate the esthetic of any kitchen or bathroom. My current pick: Orange Blossom.
Embryolisse Lair Crème Concentre Beauty and fashion editors have raved about this simple, rich skin cream for years, but I’m a late comer to the fan club (I just tried it for the first time two weeks ago). For very dry, chapped or flakey skin, it’s like an overnight godsend. I applied a thick layer to raw. blotchy cheeks (courtesy of dog walking in 12 degree weather), went to bed and woke up to normal skin.
Diptyque Baies Candle I’ve professed my love for these elegant candles before but I think it bears repeating. I’ve tried a number of the brand's delicious scents (Figuier, Mimosa, Jasmin and Pomander) but my favorite is still best-selling, berry-scented Baies.
Feeling like a Francophile? Check out the skincare secrets I've learned from my French girlfriends here.