On many streets in France, you will find a French “Pharmacie” easily identified by the flashing green cross. All pharmacies are independently owned (no drugstore chains or box stores) and they are the only places where you can buy “over the counter” medicines. If you need an aspirin in France you will have to buy it at a pharmacie! This is also the place where French women go to purchase their beauty products.
Many articles on fashion and makeup/skincare compare French women to North American women. French women dress more conservatively, not influenced by trends, investing in only good quality clothing that they wear for years. Skincare routines are simple, makeup is sparse (other than smudged eyeliner and red lipstick) and hair is natural and carefree. Although plastic surgery is on the rise in France, it is rare for a woman under 40 to even consider changing her looks. They accept their flaws… choosing instead to enhance their good features. If I were French possibly I would have not spent years avoiding the camera because of my “gap” teeth! They have a very healthy attitude towards ageing. Although the cosmetic industry in France is huge (like North America), with millions spent on research and marketing, French women put their faith in the “pharmacie” for their beauty needs.
One of the largest pharmacies in Paris is “City Pharma” conveniently located at 26 Rue du Four in the 6th arrondissement. Here you will find a treasure trove of skincare and makeup products found on every French women’s vanity and in every makeup artist’s kit worldwide. The quality is high and the prices are low. Plus they are very generous with the “buy one get one free’ incentives as well as including samples of new products with your purchases. Best of all, the sales assistants are well informed about the products and the benefits they provide. Because it is always busy with narrow aisleways, it is a good idea to have a list with you. You can avoid the crowds and tight spaces by checking out many of the other pharmacies in Paris. Most will have the products you are looking for, however, the prices may be higher.
Over the past few years, I have been delighted to see some of these products are now available at our local drugstores. Shoppers Drug Mart (especially the stores with the Beauty Boutique), Murale (a division of Shoppers), London Drugs, Rexall, and also, Sephora are now carrying some of my favourites:
- Bioderma Micellar Water gently and thoroughly removes makeup even waterproof mascara.
- Avene Cicalfate is a soothing repair cream especially comforting to dry, dehydrated skin. Works well as a makeup primer.
- Embryolisse Lait-Creme is also a super hydrating moisturizing cream.
- Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum brightens and evens out skin tone decreasing dark spots.
- Filorga products are antiaging moisturizers, serums, and masks.
- Nuxe lip balm for prepping dry, chapped lips before applying lipstick.
- Darphin Camellia mask is a treat for dry skin.
I have a friend who is older than me (who looks younger than most people I know) with the most beautiful skin. I asked her what she uses to keep looking so youthful. She replied, “Olay and Neutrogena”. As someone who likes to think I am in the know (ha, ha!!!), I was stunned! We discussed the merits of these drugstore products and the research and development these companies have been doing. The ingredients in these products are in line with what the top dermatologists are preaching. I have been using them for past six months now and I can honestly say that I, too, am becoming a drugstore (pharmacie) convert!
If you have any tips for combating ageing, I’d love to hear about them!