Why French Pharmacies are a Beauty Gold Mine | travelhappier in Paris
If you’re a beauty-product junkie like me, you must visit a French pharmacy the next time you are in Paris. They are the best :chock-full of cult beauty products that are (1) made in France (which usually means they have no phthalates or parabens), and (2) so much cheaper than you can find them in the U.S. (Example: the Caudalie Vinoperfect Overnight Renewal Cream I picked up on my last trip costs $59 at Sephora.com, but was 23€ in Paris (that’s less than half the cost at today’s exchange rate).
I love shopping (especially on vacation!) and I love to feel like I’m getting a good deal, so buying French skincare and haircare products at French pharmacies are seriously like hitting the jackpot for me.
Where to Go: CityPharma
My number one favorite shopping pharmacie in Paris is CityPharma in the 6th arrondissement. It is a little crazy (a lot crazy), but that’s because it has everything and it’s the best. When in doubt, just buy it. CityPharma, Rue du Four, 75006 Paris. Closed Sundays, check website for hours.
Once you’re inside, pick up a hand basket and make your way through the aisles. It’s big, and there are 2 floors, so allow yourself enough time to browse. If you get overwhelmed, the workers in white coats speak English and are more than happy to help you find what you’re looking for.
Travel Tip: Bring Your Passport (and Get Your Tax Back)
If you spend over 175€ you are eligible for a tax refund at the airport. CityPharma needs your passport information to process the paperwork that you’ll be taking to the customs agent at the airport. (I’ll write a blog post about this process soon!).
What to Buy: 5 French Pharmacie Favorites
I went a little Caudalie crazy on our last trip: I am a fan of their Beauty Elixir and had read promising reviews of their Vinopure and Vinoperfect lines, which use grape extracts to brighten skin and are paraben-free and phthalate-free. (Yay!) So far so good. I’m loving the Vinoperfect Glycolic Brightening Essence ($42 at Sephora, 20€ at CityPharma); the Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Purifying Toner ($28 at Sephora; 14€ at City Pharma).
Also — NYMag recommends Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, which is supposed to brighten skin. It’s on my list for the next time.
Bioderma Crealine H20 (Micellar Water)
I’ve tried a half-dozen other micellar water brands and none come close. Bioderma micellar water is the best — it doesn’t dry out my skin or leave that sticky weird film (you know which one I mean!) Hint: saturate a cotton round and really go for it, your skin will feel clean and hydrated (not tight and yucky). Vogue loves it too. 8.90€.
Phyto Paris Phytodefrisant Botanical Straightening Balm
For me, the straightening balm doesn’t straighten as much as it de-frizzes, but it leaves my hair nice and smooth - put it on before blow drying. Phyto straightening balm is an Allure best-of beauty winner, so it’s available in the U.S. (but cheaper in Paris, even with the exchange rate).
This simple little pink tube has a big following: fans include the GOOP herself, Gwyneth Paltrow, and me. Homeoplasmine is good for sore, chapped skin— good for dry winter weather and for new nursing mothers. Comes in big and little sizes.
Mustela makes the best baby products that are safe and smell good. Paraben-free; phthalate-free; and phenoxyethanol-free. (I don’t even know what that last one is!) I never really cared about chemicals, etc. touching my skin until I had a kid, and I love that Mustela is free of hormone disruptors. (Here’s a Scientific American article on the topic if you want to read more).
If you’re pregnant or have a small baby, try Topicrem’s Ultra-Moisturizing Body Milk. It is so thick and luxurious and smells good without having any bad stuff in it (no parabens!) — I used it on my belly during pregnancy and didn’t get any stretch marks, and it’s safe for babies, too! I just ran out 3 years later — and now I have to plan a trip back to get more. ;)
Other hidden gems: look for Klorane hair products (their natural dry shampoo earns rave reviews); Patchness under-eye mini masks; La Roche Pousay moisturizers and sunscreens (I hear the spray version is amazing!) and Avene Thermal Spring Water - it feels amazing on your skin and is so hydrating!
Have fun finding new favorite beauty buys in Paris, and let me know if you find any gems!
shop better, travelhappier! xo