Bastille Day is Saturday, July 14, and to celebrate France’s national day, we’re dedicating the week to the very best French things. You may be familiar with stories we’ve done on French pharmacy products and cookbooks, but we’re going even deeper this week, from the best books on Paris and French baking to the greatest French pantry essentials and lesser-known French beauty products. Welcome to Made in France week.
The wonders of French pharmacy products — from Bioderma to Embryolisse — have been well-documented here at the Strategist and beyond, but for Made in France week, we wondered if there were any other under-the-radar French beauty products we weren’t clued in on yet. We heard about a volumizing Bourjois mascara this week and a brightening micellar water from Melvita, but to dig even deeper, we surveyed makeup artists — including Paris’s most famous makeup artist, Violette — and beauty bloggers on some of their lesser-known favorites.
Lip balms might seem basic when you’re talking about skincare, but surprisingly they were a constant among the French women we surveyed when they discussed their top essentials. Homeopathic brand Boiron is known for their homeoplasmine ointment, a breastfeeding cream that the French love to use on their lips, and Violette says their dedicated lip balm is just as good. “This is not the famous ‘homeoplasmine,’ but from the same brand, called the ‘Homéostick,’” she says. “It leaves the lips perfect and smooth. I buy 20 of them every time I go to Paris!”
Speaking of Boiron’s homeoplasmine, multitasking breastfeeding products are big in general for beauty purposes. Makeup artist Helene Vasnier uses this lanolin, sheep-derived breastfeeding salve from Lansinoh on her lips, too. “It’s without perfume, of course, and magical!” she says. We also spotted it in one of Glossier muse Coco Baudelle’s Instagram stories, which she described as “magic for painful dry patches on skin.”
If you want to get the good moisturizing stuff, you might also want to look into France’s honey products, according to celebrity makeup artist Mayia Alleaume. “We are big honey producers in France and love honey products,” she says. Alleaume suggested this all-purpose honey balm from Melvita that can be used on all your dry bits, from your lips to your toes.
The French are always partial to products without fragrances or chemicals, which is why Alleaume recommends this soothing Avène moisturizer for sensitive skin: “This cream calms any irritation, so I wake up with baby-soft skin. I love to use it as a mask and sleep with it all night long. And because it lacks fragrance, you won’t suffer any allergies or reactions.”
And if you’re branching out from Bioderma, makeup artist Gaëlle Bonnot clued us into an organic micellar water from botanical brand Sanoflore. “I love its fresh and captivating smell. It’s very soft and definitely suits sensitive skin. It’s my favorite guilty pleasure make-up remover,” she says.
If you’re a fan of Skyn Iceland’s eye patches (a Rio favorite), here’s something similar from France you may not know of. Makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani says these Talika eye therapy patches are ideal for soothing tired, puffy eyes: “After 15 mins you can see the difference, and it makes makeup application so much easier.”
“Les eaux florales,” essentially water extracted from plants and flowers, are another French beauty staple that Alleaume brought up. “We love to use it in our daily skincare routine, and they regulate sebum, too. There is flower water for every type of skincare need, too: rose water for anti-aging, lavender for combination skin, bleuet [cornflower] for irritated skin, especially around the eyes,” she says. “My favorite is the ‘fleur d’oranger.’ It transports me every time I use this incredible tangerine fragrance.”
For acne-prone skin, blogger Anastasja of Sea, Glow & Sun says she can’t live without this Caudalie serum, which relies on the brand’s signature grape-derived resveratrol to brighten and even out skin tone. “This serum hydrates, helps to reduce acne scars (or any hyperpigmentation), and makes you look radiant. I like to apply it under the moisturizer in the morning and at night. It’s probably the best serum I’ve ever tried,” she says.
And though we’ve already praised Saforelle’s probiotic tampons before, Violette says this philosophy on healthy feminine care products should extend to body hygiene products as well. “I am a bit shocked by how terrible women’s hygiene products are in the U.S. And how poor education is on this topic,” she says. “I buy all my soap from Saforelle, and even my tampons, which are loaded with probiotics to help with my natural flora. The quality is much better.”
Our beauty writer Rio lives for Biologique Recherche’s P50 exfoliating lotion, but for something more calming and moisturizing, writer Monica Ainley says not to miss the spa’s luxurious creams either: “The BR spa on the Champs-Elysées is a legendary destination for in-the-know Parisiennes. A lot of their techniques involve the mysteriously effective massaging of creams into one’s cheeks, after which you come out looking (no-joke) at least five years younger and fresher. For at-home use, I am a particular fan of their Creme VIP moisturizer.”
The French tend to keep it very natural when it comes to makeup, and this light bronzer is one of Bedrani’s essentials for that no-makeup makeup look. “This has been a favorite of mine for years, even before bronzing and contouring were such a trend. It’s a very fine powder with a beautiful pigment — not too red or orange. It gives the perfect sun-kissed glow in a very natural way,” she says.
And Bonnot says this volumizing, organic mascara from Avril is one of the must-haves in her makeup kit: “It is composed of acai extract and beeswax, so it protects and strengthens eyelashes for a breathtaking thickness. It’s very long lasting, too.”
For that classic French red lip, one of the newest, hippest lipstick brands is one that’s literally called “The Red Lip.” Alleaume says La Bouche Rouge is a young French brand that develops vibrant lipstick in an “eco-chic package” that you can refill. “This matte lipstick is vegan and natural from packaging to formula — with no fragrances at all.”
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