The wonders of French pharmacy products — from Bioderma to Embryolisse — have been well-documented here at the Strategist and beyond. But we couldn’t help but wonder if there were any even more obscure, further other under-the-radar French beauty products we weren’t yet clued in on. To dig even deeper, we asked makeup artists — including Violette, arguably Paris’s most famous makeup artist — and beauty bloggers on some of their lesser-known favorites.
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.”
Vasnier also loves Saeve, which formulates their products with all-natural ingredients and without essentials oils, a positive for those with sensitive, acne-prone skin. She likes the brand’s hydrating serum in particular, which she uses on her face and neck. “It’s full of moisturizing ingredients and antioxidants, which give me a boost of hydration before I apply my moisturizer,” she says.
The French are always partial to products without fragrances or chemicals, which is why Mayia 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.”
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 minutes you can see the difference, and it makes makeup application so much easier.”
These Klorane eye patches are a favorite of content consultant Estelle Lubino. “They reduced my under-eye puffiness on my with just one use,” she says. She also recommends sticking them in the freezer for ten to 15 minutes before application to enhance their efficacy.
Les eaux florales (water extracted from plants and flowers) is another French beauty staple that Alleaume brought up. “We love to use it in our daily skincare routine. It regulates sebum (the oil in your skin that keeps it naturally moisturized). There is flower water for every type of skin-care need: rose water for anti-aging, lavender for combination skin, bleuet [cornflower] for irritated skin,” she says. “My favorite is the fleur d’oranger, which helps soothe dry skin.”
Blogger Claire Most also likes Sanoflore, and recommends this hydrating toner, which she says makes her skin feel “incredibly fresh and clean.” The peppermint, floral water, and rosemary leaf gives the toner a slight scent that isn’t too overpowering, and it hydrates and soothes the skin.
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.”
Lubino loves Lebon toothpaste, which is free from parabens, flouride, and artificial sweeteners and dyes, and instead relies on natural Papaya extract to gently whiten teeth. The brand’s unique flavors, like mango mint and cinnamon, make Lubino “excited to brush [her] teeth,” she says.
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.”
This face oil from Darphin is designed to do a bunch of things, including smooth wrinkles, firm skin, and boost radiance. It uses the essence of eight different flowers (immortelle, iris, and jasmine to name a few), and is packed with antioxidants. “The fragrance is divine and very comforting,” says Lubino, adding that the silky texture makes it perfect for use during a facial massage.
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.
Lubino particularly polishes this non-toxic polish from Kure Bazaar. They’re formulated with natural ingredients like wood pulp, cotton, potato, maize and wheat, and have “a wide range of great colors,” says Lubino, adding that the polishes are really durable and last a long time.
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