My 9 All-Time Holy Grail French Beauty Products

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The author Rio Viera-Newton sitting on a couch
The author, doing her best Parisian Chic Look Photo: Rio Viera Newton

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.

Paris is the birthplace of many a style icon: Françoise Hardy, Coco Chanel, and, more recently, Marion Cotillard, whose photograph I bring for reference every time I get my hair cut. But Paris isn’t considered a beauty capital just because it produced stunning women. It’s because French beauty products are made with extremely high-quality ingredients, and because French people are particularly obsessed with skin care. Many of my most beloved products are French: the cult skin-care line Biologique was the first skin-care brand I fell for (and it changed my skin more dramatically than anything I’ve ever used), and Chanel’s peacock green cream eye shadow showed me that experimenting with colors doesn’t have to be scary. The idea of the French pharmacy and everything it contains is so alluring for a reason: the French products that I integrate into my day-to-day routine are truly some of my all-time holy grails. Below, nine of my absolute favorites.

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant
$70, Shop Rescue Spa

This mask looks like Teriyaki sauce (if I’m being nice) and smells like yeast, but within a few uses you’ll notice a change in the texture and radiancy of your skin. The mask is packed with witch hazel and (yes, hence the scent) yeast, and combats blemishes, blackheads, and excess oiliness. When I’m suffering from bad breakouts, I actually like using this as a spot treatment (I sometimes even sleep with it on, which requires putting a towel over my pillow). It’s doesn’t dry you out, like a traditional clay mask, but it doesn’t moisturize either, so it’s important that you slap on some moisturizer after.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Serum with Sunscreen
$43, Dermstore

This SPF 50 doubles as an antioxidant sunscreen. The vitamins C and E work together to promote collagen, and brighten your complexion. This is one of the few sunscreens that makes me feel like I’m both protecting and brightening my complexion. And it’s never ever clogged my pores.

Embryolisse Concentrated Lait Cream
$20, Amazon

I first found out about this cream during an interview with Beyoncé’s makeup artist Sir John, where he revealed this it is one of his favorite ways to prepare the Queen’s skin before he puts on her makeup. With ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, aloe vera, and soy proteins, this fast-absorbing moisturizer will nourish and hydrate the skin without making it look greasy or slippery.

Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Full Coverage Concealer Stick
$28, Amazon

Although many beauty editorials would like you to believe that French girls don’t conceal their under eyes (they’re too easy-breezy), this French-made Vichy concealer stick is one of the most buildable skin products I own. I use it to conceal pesky zits or when I want a little extra coverage on my under eyes.

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask
$162, Nordstrom

This lotiony mask won’t exactly purify or combat any active blemishes, but it’s perfect for prepping your skin for makeup. Leave it on clean skin for 15 minutes and wipe away the excess with a warm washcloth; your skin will feel extra soft and supple. When I use this, my foundation glides on like a dream. I’m really sorry about the price on this.

Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water
$19, Amazon

This fragrance-free, paraben-free, dermatologist-approved soothing spritz bottle feels like a real luxury to have in New York City summers. I keep mine in my fridge and on days where my skin is red, sticky, and rashy this works wonders at calming everything down.

Cristophe Robin Regenerating Mask
$71, Sephora

If your hair is bleached, damaged, or in need of some TLC, any products from French legend Christophe Robin’s prickly pear line will rescue you. But this mask is one of my all-time favorites — my recently bleached hair is very dry and damaged, but after using this it feels so soft and bouncy.

Chanel Ombre Premiere Longwear Cream Eyeshadow
$36, Nordstrom

As mentioned above, I really love this teal cream eye shadow from Chanel in Verderame. Although it seems like it would be super difficult to wear, the creaminess of the product makes it very easy to blend. Sometimes I use it along my lash line as a subtle accent liner, and other times, when I’m feeling more glam, I use it all over my lid.

Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in Terrific Matte
$37, Sephora

This lipstick is one of my favorite matte lipsticks of all-time — the color has really pretty, unexpected pinky tones. It makes the perfect summer lip.

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The French Beauty Products That I Swear By