Exploring the French Pharmacie

There’s been a bit of a buzz about French skincare products lately with many products such as Caudalie’s Beauty Elixer doing the rounds on every beauty blog under the sun. I think in the UK at least this in part down to the new availability of brands such as  Avene, Vichy, La Roche-Posay and Caudalie in Boots.

As a regular visitor of France, their Pharmacies have always been a bit of a mystery to me. Firstly the Para-phamacies don’t actually sell anything that you would usually associate with a pharmacy like aspirin or plasters. That can be quite confusing. They also seem to full of exotic products that make unbelievable claims to remove cellulite or make you lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Unlike your average beauty counter lady in London, slavered in an inch of make-up and with a face fit for a clown, the women that grace these stores seem to glow with a secret knowledge of skincare that elevates them way above us mere mortals. This can be a little bit off-putting.

However, now that some of the products are more familiar, on my last visit I stepped into many different pharmacies to see what was on offer. Armed with a bit of knowledge the beautiful older ladies behind the counter were no longer intimidating to me and I found a few items worth checking out. I was pleased to see that a lot of things (in part down to a fairly good exchange rate but not only) where of good value compared to their price tags in Space NK or the Liberty beauty Hall which is where I had seen them before.

Caudalie Lip Conditioner

My lips got quite burnt on my first day in the Provencal heat and were blistering a little and peeling so I picked up a couple of lip balms. This was by far my favourite. I think it cot me about 4 Euros. It’s very conditioning tastes lovely and almost works lip a lip primer – not over glossing the lips but smoothing and plumping them out. Definitely worth picking up and easy to throw in your hand luggage. You can buy it in Boots but its a couple of pounds more expensive. I think I will be asking my parents (who live in France) to bulk buy some of these for me.

Caudalie SOS Thirst Quenching Serum

I knew I really liked this product as I had sampled it in a glossybox back in April. Back then it seemed a bit too rich for my combination skin for general use but after a summer of being dried out my skin laps this up both morning and night. It leaves my skin velvety and soft. It’s very liquidy and soaks straight into the skin, hydrating the under layers ready for you to apply your normal day or night cream. I’ve done a bit of googling and I think by buying this in a supermarket pharmacie I saved roughly £10 on the UK RRP.

Bioderma Crealine H20 Solution Micellaire

There’s a lot of raving about this in the beauty blogging world right now. It is a very good make-up remover. It removes make-up quickly and easily and as it lifts the makeup off with one wipe your not dragging your make-up all over your skin. This makes it particularly handy if your feeling lazy and can’t be bothered to do a proper cleanse afterwards. The idea of an Eau Micellar is that it is basically a water solution with incredibly tiny particles of oil suspended within it. Unlike those oil and water combination removers which you shake up before use, the oil particles are so small you barely notice there presence on your skin so they don’t feel at all greasy. However, I’m not sure I’m as excited about this as everyone else. It’s not currently available in the UK although it seems to be widely available on ebay. It’s very expensive for a make-up remover even in France and I think I spent about 11Euros on a 500ml bottle. You can buy it cheaper in bulk but that’s a bit difficult if you have a minimal baggage allowance. I have a feeling that due to the buzz around this product the Eau Micellaire will become widely available form other more easily obtainable and cheaper brands. In fact there’s not a lot of difference between this and the No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Water. At £9 it is roughly the same price but due to the abundance of £5 No7 vouchers they give out you can often pick it up for £4. I like to use it to clean my brushes too.

NUXE Huile Prodigieuse OR Multi-Usage Dry Oil – Golden Shimmer

This is a lovely product particularly for the warmer months. It’s a dry oil which doesn’t leave your skin greasy or sticky but makes dry legs smooth and soft in an instant. The gold shimmer reflects the light and makes a bare leg look a whole lot nicer. You also get that really nice slippery feeling sliding one calf off the other. It smells great too and can be used in dry hair although I wouldn’t recommend using as much of it as you would an argan oil as its a bit heavier. It’s crazy expensive in the likes of Space NK considering it’s a bit of an added extra and not an entirely necessary product but I picked this up for 16Euros, which was a nice holiday treat for my sunkissed legs.

Sephora Blush Me Twice in No.2

Ok, so Sephora is not a French Pharmacy but we don’t’ have them in the UK and the densely packed shops full of brightly coloured packaging get me quite excited. I actually bought a number of nice things in Sephora but in the interest of not boring you to death ill keep this limited to one item for now. I picked this bronzer and blush duo up as the blusher looked to me to be pretty identical to NARS Orgasm which everyone’s always raving about. At 11Euros compared to 24 euros for the NARS blusher it seemed like a no brainer. The bronzer is highly pigmented and goes on like a dream. some of the other bronzers I’ve used this year have been a bit cakey but this is finely milled and buffs in nicely. The blusher isn’t that highly pigmented to be honest. It seems quite hard to pick up a lot of colour even using a really good brush. You pick up more of the gold than the redish pigment on a first application. However, as this is a very red bold colour I think this ok as the first application is subtle and light and you can build it up if you want a lot of colour.

Whilst the exchange rate is still quite good I’d definitely leave a little room in my travel bag for a few beauty buys next time I visit.

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