French Pharmacy

One of the highlights of a jaunt to Paris, is a visit to the pharmacie.

Models, beauty aficionados, and industry professionals swear by a bevvy of French cult classics they buy in multiples and keep in their kits, and in their precious stash. After all, French women are known not only for their chic fashion sense and perfectly tousled hair, but for their flawless skin as well.

The white lab-coated shop assistants in the pharmacie take skin seriously and are very knowledgeable. The French are renowned for taking exceptionally good care of their skin. French women spend the most time, effort, and money on their skin. Yet their secret is that they keep their beauty routine simple. They use quality products and stick with them – sometimes for life – and take a preventative approach rather than merely treating skincare as a remedy when skin issues arise.

Skincare isn’t considered a luxury, but rather a necessity, and a pleasure. Taking care of yourself is part of the grand and glorious Art de Vivre. Because the French know that being beautiful is not only about looking beautiful; it’s also about feeling beautiful.

The typical French look is “done-but-not-done.” A smudge of eyeliner and a swipe of red lipstick is iconically, and famously, French. The focus is on healthy, glowy skin. With good skin, there is no need for a lot of makeup to cover up skin problems with layers of product or colour.

So before popping into Chanel, Dior, or Celine, the Citypharma on Rue du Four, or the famous La Pharmacie Monge might be your first stop instead. France has a long tradition of exceptional beauty products.

Vintage French Soap Label | Image via The Graphics Fairy
Vintage French Soap Label | Image via Flickr 

Products like a Concentrated Flower Extract used to scent ladies’ handkerchiefs.

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Vintage French Label | Image via The Graphics Fairy

In the Victorian era, women carried fragranced hankies to hold against their faces when encountering unpleasant odors.They often used lavender-scented ones to revive themselves when feeling faint.

In the 19th century interest in the symbolism of flowers peaked, in large part due to two books: a flower dictionary, Le Langage des Fleurs, written in 1818 by a Parisian woman named Charlotte de La Tour; and a book entitled Flower Lore: The Teachings of Flowers, Historical, Legendary, Poetical and Symbolic, written by Miss Carruthers, of Inverness (Scotland) in 1879. It became the standard source for flower symbolism in both England and the U.S.

Victorian gentlemen had to be well-versed in the “meanings” of flowers before sending them to a lady, lest she be given the wrong message. Interestingly, an item that carried the scent of a particular flower conveyed the same meaning as the flower itself! Such items included hankies!

~ Pat C. comment on The Graphics Fairy

Here are a few hero products to stock up on when in France, or to look for in your local pharmacy, with many now available online (convenient, but not as fun as a trip to Paris).

A313 Pure Vitamin A Pommade

A313 | Here
A313 | Avibon | Here

A313 is the French pharmacy version of Retin A cream. With a retinol concentration of .2%, (200,000 U.I. pure vitamin A concentrate) this ointment-base is a higher dose than what you’ll find over the counter but lower than Rx. A good choice for those super sensitive to the lowest dose of Vitamin A (Tretoin, Reinova A, Retinol). A313 is a superb and highly effective product for a visibly improved and more radiant, smoother, and softer complexion.

Retinoids are game-changers – functioning as a cell communicating ingredient that essentially allows your cells to perform in a healthier manner – they dramatically improve the texture of skin, fading scars, and smoothing out fine lines.

HOW TO APPLY

  • Use nightly, 3X a week.
  • Vitamin A is destroyed by sunlight so for maximum benefit use at night. Apply your normal moisturiser and a sunscreen during the day .
  • At bedtime, after a gentle cleanse, wait 20 minutes until your skin is completely dry and then apply.
  • A little goes a long way: a pea-sized dot is enough to cover the whole face.
  • The formula is unscented with a petroleum jelly consistency which is easily absorbed.
  • Do not apply too close to the eyes as the cream will naturally migrate.
  • Don’t mix it with serums or moisturiser or put anything on top.
  • If irritation occurs, ease off the application until the skin settles, Then try again.
  • Be patient. Be persistent. You will see visible results.
  • This aluminum tube (to protect freshness) has an 18-month shelf life.

This pharmacy superstar will always be part of my life.

Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micelle

Founded in the 1970s by pioneering pharmacist, Jean-Noël Thorel, the name Bioderma is derived from the brand’s philosophy: “biology at the service of dermatology”. The range is developed in close collaboration with dermatologists, researchers, and scientists.

Bioderma’s famous micellar water is both effective and gentle. Has a world-wide cult following. A clear, unscented liquid it is simply THE BEST makeup remover. Soak a cotton round with it, sweeping it over your eyes, lips, face, wherever, to remove makeup and impurities. Doesn’t sting or zap moisture – cleans whilst respecting the skin’s natural balance. The one with the pink lid is the one to get.

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Available from Amazon

Other French Pharmacy Beauty Products:

AVENE Thermal Spring Water | Reviewed HERE

Avène’s rich history began in a small village of Southern France. The lovely old village of Avène is located in the Orb valley, with lush vegetation, plenty of sunshine, and climatic conditions influenced by Mediterranean and Atlantic influences. The soothing, anti-irritating properties of Avène Thermal Spring Water were discovered in 1736 when the Marquis de Rocozels’ horse was suffering from stubborn pruritus and was healed after a few swims in the Orb River.

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NUXE: Nuxe Rêve de Miel | Reviewed  HERE, HERE

One of France’s bestselling pharmacy brands, Nuxe brings together both Nature and La Parisienne Luxury. Founder, Aliza Jabès, began a small, natural skincare laboratory based in Paris in the early 90s based on the natural skin benefits of plants and plant extracts.

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LA ROCHE-POSAY: Anthelios SPF 60 | Reviewed HERE 

Developed and recommended by dermatologists around the world, La Roche-Posay is a sensitive skin specialist. The basis of all La Roche-Posay products is thermal spring water (a recurring ingredient in French skincare), naturally rich in antioxidant rich selenium to relieve sensitive and irritated skin and help prevent skin ageing.

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POST ART: René Gruau. Image via nevsepic.com

 

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3 Comments

  1. July 11, 2016

    These are all some of my favourite products! I love the Avene face mist to cool down and hydrate my skin and use the Nuxe lip balm and Bioderma micellar water every day 🙂 the La Roche-Posay sunscreens are also amazing and so lightweight given how much protection they offer!

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty | US & Sephora Giveaway

  2. February 11, 2017

    Oui, oui, oui to all the products in your article (and I’d Biafine in there too, just for good measure!) 😉
    Having tried most of the retinol and Retin-A products out there, I can say that A313 is by far the most efficient retinol cream available. Pity you can only find it in French pharmacies but biafine.bigcartel.com stock it too if you’re interested xx

  3. Christina Smith
    August 7, 2017

    Hello, I’ve found A313 on Amazon.

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