If there is something that I’m really missing from home, it is my dear French pharmacies (ok, and my French boulangeries also)(starting to write a blog post around noon doesn’t help much).
Because, yes, French pharmacies are the best place to find some very good skincare products that are generally very cheap.
Here, in Dubaï, some of the French brands that I loved when I was in France are available, but the prices are crazy! It can be 4 times the French price!
So, let me tell you that when I went back to France recently, I must admit I went a little crazy in the pharmacy! And the rest of the year, my mum is helping my addiction by sending me some of the products I really need…
So, if you are lucky enough to go to France this summer, here are the 5 products you must definitely bring back in your suitcase!
For very obvious reasons, I choose exclusively French brands… ;)
I think I have used this product everyday, morning and evening, for over 20 years, now (ouch!)(time flies)…
It’s the ideal product to refresh your skin and also rinse your face after the cleansing/makeup removing process…
I always remove my makeup and clean my face with products which need to be rinsed off with water. And we all know that tap water is not the sweetest, Dubaï is not an exception! The water type in Dubai is hard. I have to descale the kettle frequently, imagine inflicting that on my face… It is better for your skin to rinse twice with a softer water.
Avène is a brand that provides the benefits of thermal water.
Thermal water is very famous in France, it’s a specific type of water, full of minerals, and it is used to heal and soothe the skin (it’s also a real medical treatment for some bone diseases or breathing problems, for example)(in France, treatments in special medical places called “cures thermales” are very common).
The Avène spray is full of thermal water. This is perfect for very sensitive skin, and in my opinion, it suits everyone, really…
So basically, I spray the eau Thermale by Avène mist on my face, after having rinsed away my face cleanser with some tap water and then wiped it with a face towel.
I leave the Eau Thermale on my skin for a short moment (10 seconds usually) and I blot any excess with a tissue.
The Spray Eau Thermale by Avène has to be blotted, always!
If you let the product dry by itself, it can dehydrate the skin (when it’s drying on the skin, the product while evaporating, will remove water naturally present in the skin, therefore causing some dehydration).
Using this product is a good way to get rid of the calcium and magnesium deposits you find in most tap water, it will help sooth your skin, and prevent dehydration.
But it doesn’t replace my (skin) toner, it’s a different gesture; the toner is already a skin treatment, for me.
The Avène Spray comes in different sizes, I always buy the big one (because I use it day and night)(but still, it lasts me 2 months).
It can be found in a lot of pharmacies in Dubai, but you will pay 100 AED for it. In France, it’s 6 euros (approximately 30 AED)(Yes, I KNOW, crazy, isn’t it?).
This product is amazing on oily skin with imperfection (hello!).
It helps to clear and soothe the skin.
La Roche Posay, like Avène, is a brand that uses thermal water in the composition of its products. And the thermal water used by LRP has some calming and soothing properties. This is perfect for a very sensitive, and also damaged skin.
Regarding Serozinc, this spray uses a forumla comprised of zinc sulfate, which is a sanitizer but also is a healer ingredient, so it’s very good for oily ‘acne prone’ skin.
I use Serozinc as a toner, so I mist my face with it (after have used the Spray Eau Thermale by Avène), and I’m massage it gently with my fingertips to help it penetrate into the skin (because it’s a real treatment, so I want to help it penetrate my skin).
I use it day and night if my skin is really bad (pimples party). At the moment my skin is ok but not so great, so I’m using it in the evening only, before my serum and my night cream.
This product is sadly not available anywhere else than in France…where you can find it for 5 euros! Yes, it’s very cheap! It lasts a long time, too. Usually, I keep mine for 2 to 3 months. Not bad, huh?
In France, this product is a phenomenon, nothing less. I read somewhere that it was the best seller in French pharmacies for skincare. They sell tons of this stuff daily.
Bioderma is a dermatologic brand, aka a brand which is specialized in the treatment of problem skins (acne, redness, scars, dark spots…).
Now that I’m abroad, I really realize that ‘micelle’ based products are huge in France.
In France, it is very common to use this type of product for removing makeup and even in order to clean the skin very quickly and efficiently. Abroad, I have not come across many similar products.
The big advantage of this product is that it’s very easy and quick to use, and that in theory, it doesn’t need to be rinsed off, which is great for very dry and/or sensitive skin.
I say “in theory”, because I personally prefer to rinse the product off with my Avène Spray. I don’t want to leave any cleansing ingredients on my skin, and honestly, I find it a little bit sticky if I don’t rinse it off.
A micelle solution, basically, is an aqueous solution with very thin oil particles dispersed inside (the famous “micelles”). The micelles are the cleansing ingredients. And all the makeup and dirt will be attracted to the micelles without any need to rinse it off with some water.
It’s a makeup remover and a face cleansing product all-in-one. An effortless product. Yes, we French people just love “effortless” err… anything, really! (Lazy, you said? Maybe…)
So, for me, personally, I wear a lot of makeup, everyday, it can be waterproof products, and I also put use UV protection products on a daily basis, so this product is clearly not enough to remove everything.
I’m more a fan of the double-cleansing method: removing all the makeup with a cleansing oil and cleaning the skin with a cleansing gel.
But if it’s a bare-faced day for me, I’m very happy to use this product! It’s just so convenient.
I apply it using a cotton pad, for my face and my eyes. I repeat this operation with as many cotton pads as necessary (yes, that’s a lot of cottons pads if I have a lot of makeup on, that’s why I usually prefer cleansing oil :)).
You can find it very easily at chemists/drugstores in Dubai, but the price is twice the French price (here, it’s about 100 AED).
This lip balm is just the best lip balm ever.
Nuxe is a brand full of gems, especially if you like the (almost) natural and the very sensory products (textures and smells are to dye for).
I’ve been using it for ages (over 15 years) and I haven’t had chapped lips to declare since. That’s it.
The texture is rather thick, it’s a balm, that’s why I prefer to use it as a night treatment.
And then, carrying a glass jar during the day and put my fingers in it, thanks but no thanks.
The effect on the lips is quite matte, but because I’m using it overnight, I really don’t mind.
About the formula, it’s not 100% natural, and there is this bloody silicone inside, but hey, it works well so for once, I will shut my big mouth because I think it’s very efficient. It really repairs and protects my lips when they need it.
But apart from silicone, you can also find Rose Hip Oil, Shea Butter, Acacia Honey, Vitamin E, Allantoin and a lot of very good ingredients which will properly nourish the lips.
The smell is also very nice, it’s a very yummy honey and lemon scent, delicious!
You can easily find Nuxe products across Dubai pharmacies, but the prices are so much cheaper in France. In France, Rêve de Miel lip balm is sold 7 euros, here it’s 70 AED (twice the price in France).
Oh and did I mention that this product lasts forever? (Well, at least 6 months)
Everyone in France knows Biafine. Everyone has used it or will be.
Because everyone has had a sunburn, at least once in their life!
So, this is not exactly a cosmetic product, it is considered as a drug. But in France, you won’t need a prescription to buy one, and it’s typically the product that everybody has got at home.
Basically, it is a cream that you can apply on skin burns (first or second degree), such as sunburn for example.
So, you can apply it on your sunburn (a sunburn without blisters)(if you have one with blisters, you need to see the doctor), in a very thick layer, and you keep on applying some product until your skin stops absorbing it.
You repeat this process 2 to 4 times a day. And normally, in 2-3 days, all should be fixed (or let’s say back to normal).
Obviously, you need a good sun protection to avoid sunburn… Oh and you can’t go sun-bathing with Biafine!!!
And it doesn’t mean that you won’t peel at all, if you get sunburnt, well, you get burnt, so you will obviously peel a little bit. But Biafine will repair and avoid the crazy peeling you would have without it.
So, what about the composition, it’s probably the least natural product I’ve user used, lol! It is full of mineral oils, such as Vaseline, paraffin…Hummm yummy!;)
But used as a casual product, when it’s needed, it’s OK, I guess…(apparently some people use this product as day cream. Hey guys, are you nuts? Don’t do that ;))
Biafine can be found in every French pharmacy, for about 3 to 5 euros. (Yes, that’s the best part: it’s very, very cheap!)
You can’t find it online because it’s a drug, and in France, it’s forbidden to sell drugs online. Of course, you can’t find it in Dubai either…
And, what are the French pharmacies I recommend in order to buy all these gems at the best price?
– The very famous City Pharma, located in 26 rue du Four, 75006 Paris (métro Mabillon or Saint-Germain-Des-Prés):
I must warn you, you won’t be alone. It’s very very busy!
This pharmacy is famous for being one of the cheapest ones in Paris. Here, you have a great choice of skincare brands, beauty and hygiene accessories, hair products, food supplement, just everything you could possibly want/need… There are a lot of sales people there, there are so many it’s even difficult to avoid them (lol) but if you need any advice, there’s plenty of choice!
I would also say that the big advantage of going to City-Pharma is that it’s in the beautiful Saint-Germain-des-Prés, so it’s a very nice area to discover and walk around in Paris…
– The Pharmacie Monge, located in Place Monge,75005 Paris (métro Place Monge):
It’s not really central, but it’s easy to get to. It’s not a quiet place either! But you will find a great choice and very nice prices.
And if you are from Asia, they will be particularly kind with you, you’ll see! smile
– The Pharmacie du RER, located in the RER A tube station, La Défense:
It’s by far my favourite, because it’s the cheapest pharmacy I’ve found (and I was living very close, so it was so convenient!) You won’t find a lot of tourists there (it’s not central at all), but Parisians know this place very well, so it’s always very busy.
Technically, there are 2 places: the Pharmacie and the Parapharmacie. I would advice to choose to go to the Parapharmacie, which is generally nowhere near as busy and the people who work there are readily available and professional (the prices are exactly the same in both places, it’s the same owner).
In the rest of France :
– The Pharmacies Lafayette:
This pharmacie started in Toulouse (I grew up there) and it’s a great shop, where you can find almost everything, for very cheap prices.
Recently, this pharmacie extended and opened many other branches everywhere in France.
Go to their website to find out more!
And you, have you tried any skincare products from the French pharmacies? Any favorites?
Photos credits: Avène, La Roche Posay, Bioderma, Nuxe, Biafine (Pierre Fabre)
Cet article existe aussi en version française: Mes 5 soins favoris en pharmacie