There are certain countries that are well documented for their unique approach to beauty. For example, you can expect cutting-edge skincare formulations to come from Korea, and it's known that Australia produces some of the best SPFs in the world. However, when it comes to French beauty, there are just so many areas that they get so right. Not only is France considered one of the major fragrance capitals of the world, but if there's one thing they have refined to a T, it's skincare.
French pharmacies, in particular, have become widely known for their skincare selection, offering the kind of effective and affordable products that you would never come across in your local British chemist. Skin health is a much more widely appreciated topic in France,& and it is more commonplace for people to seek a pharmacist for skincare advice than it is here in the UK. After all, the skin is the largest organ in the body, and it deserves just as much TLC as the rest of our organs. As such, the allure of French pharmacies is their range of incredible French brands that support this lifestyle. You'll find just about anything you could want under one roof, from Vichy to Nuxe to Caudalie to La Roche-Posay, and it will come in at a reasonable price, too. While it can be fun to splash out on expensive skincare, the more affordable French pharmacy skincare brands are likely to become the backbone of your routine.
There's a lot of skincare advice that we can learn from the French. For one, they do not tend to implement an over-the-top, 10-step skincare routine. Instead, they'll have a couple of dependable, key products that they return to time and time again. It's about keeping it simple, just like their fashion choices. And it's an ideal approach to take if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, which can often be exacerbated by using too many products.
Ahead, we round up some of the best French pharmacy products to stock up on the next time that you plan a trip to France. However, if you're not able to make it across the channel, we've linked everything below that you can get in the UK. It's a win-win.
The Best French Pharmacy Skincare Products
This is one of Hailey Bieber's favourite moisturisers. It's one of those cult moisturisers that you'll find in every skincare insider's bathroom. The reason for its popularity is that it works as a multipurpose product. It helps repair a broken skin barrier, soothes eczema, heals inflamed breakouts and can even be used on bumps and grazes. It creates an anti-bacterial "dressing" over broken skin to help create the ideal conditions for skin repair. I've used this on small patches of eczema and always keep a tube on standby for flare-ups.
As far as French pharmacy skincare brands go, Vichy is one of the most popular. This hydrating hyaluronic acid–based serum, in particular, is loved amongst editors. The lightweight gel consistency sinks in immediately, making it ideal for all skin types from dry and sensitive to oily and acne-prone. It intensely hydrates skin, plumping out fine lines and leaving skin glowing—it's like a tall glass of water for your skin. Not only is it competitively priced for such a high-performance serum, but a bottle will last a long time, too.
Loved by celebrities, editors, makeup artists and just about everyone on TikTok, this is a must-have moisturiser to add to your basket. The lightweight creamy texture leaves skin super soft yet sinks in quickly, making it an ideal primer for makeup. In fact, you'll often see this being used by makeup artists backstage at fashion week to quickly hydrate the skin.
Nuxe's multipurpose oil has become a bit of a modern-day beauty staple. This lightweight oil is great for adding a glowing sheen to limbs. It comes in this shimmer-infused formula as well as a clear oil if you'd rather something glitter-free. It can also be used to add gloss to the lengths of your hair and can be used as a facial oil, too. It also smells incredibly chic.
This list of French pharmacy favourites wouldn't be complete without mentions from Avène. Its Tolérance range is ideal for sensitive skin types, and this moisturiser is particularly great. It has a luxuriously rich texture that melts into the skin to soothe sensitivity and irritation. It also comes in a lightweight emulsion formula, which is ideal if your skin is more on the combination or oilier side.
This might be one of the greatest lip balms in existence. If you want something velvety and long-lasting, I implore you to try this. It has a cosseting texture that envelops lips with honey, shea butter and sweet almond oil. It creates a protective barrier over the lips, so it's great as an overnight lip mask or when you want to shield your lips from chapping in cold weather.
If redness, sensitivity or rosacea are concerns, then this is an absolute French pharmacy must. The formula is enriched with thermal spring water, which soothes inflammation and takes redness down a notch.
You'll find this in just about any makeup artist's kit. Micellar waters work by effortlessly dissolving away makeup and grime from the day. Simply apply to a cotton pad and swipe over the skin. It's a great backup cleanse when you can't cleanse your skin in a bathroom, so it's handy to pack for festivals or long flights.
This is hands down one of my favourite SPFs. Most SPFs can feel heavy and cloying on the skin, but not this one. It has a watery, lotion-like consistency that glides onto the skin, sits well under makeup and won't irritate sensitive skin and eyes. The SPF 50 means you're also getting thorough protection—just remember to apply it every day to protect against sun damage and premature ageing.
Most products targeting acne-prone skin can get so aggressive that they also upset sensitive skin, but not this one. It has a gel-cream texture that melts into the skin, hydrating oily and combination skin just enough without feeling heavy. Not only does it help to reduce breakouts and acne scarring, but the mattifying formula helps to combat shine, leaving skin shine-free throughout the day.
I don't know anyone who has tried this serum and not instantly fallen in love with it. It makes light work of brightening lacklustre skin while lightening dark spots such as sun damage or stubborn acne scarring marks. It also leaves skin seriously glowy—the compliments will roll in after a couple weeks of use.
If you have oily skin, you might be inclined to skip moisturiser. However, this mattifying formula leaves skin velvety soft, blurring over pores while helping reduce shine-inducing sebum throughout the day. It also helps prevent new breakouts from forming in the first place—it's truly a hard worker. It's no surprise that it's one of Bioderma's most loved products.
If you ask me, Vichy makes some of the best body SPFs. This hydrating SPF 50 formulation is suspended in a water formula with hyaluronic acid. Not only does this mean that it quenches the skin with moisture, but it also feels lightweight compared to a cream. Remember to top-up regularly in the sun and after swimming to ensure you maintain the SPF protection.
I have incredibly dry and eczema-prone hands, so I always keep a tube of this on my bedside table. The balm texture ensures long-lasting hydration, and the inclusion of vitamin B5 and thermal spring water act to soothe skin inflammation.
When my skin gets very irritated and upset, I always return to this. It does a great job of gently removing makeup without stinging sensitive skin. It leaves skin feeling soothed and comfortable. Use this with a flannel and lukewarm water to gently cleanse the skin.