made in france

This French Pharmacy Face Mask Saved My Skin While Traveling

My travel skincare routine’s secret weapon. Photo: Courtesy Retailer

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 souvenir I’m most likely to bring home from any trip is a new zit, especially if there’s air travel on the itinerary. (The dry air wreaks havoc on my already-dehydrated skin, leaving it greasy and even more prone to blemishes.) So imagine my joy when I returned to New York after six flights and two weeks of vacation without a single new friend on my cheek or chin. For that miracle, I thank the Sensibio Mask from Bioderma. You might know the French pharmacy brand best for their cult-y micellar water, but as our own Rio Viera-Newton recently noted, they do so much more, including lip balms, eye creams, even a deodorant, and, of course, this soothing mask.

The Sensibio Mask is billed as an “intense soothing and moisturizing treatment,” and it’s deeply gentle on my acne-prone, sensitive skin. You apply a “thick layer” of product to a freshly cleansed face then let it sit there for about ten minutes before wiping off the excess with a cotton pad, like an old-school cold cream. And since sleeping masks often leave my skin greasy, albeit moisturized, the first time I slathered it on in the comfort of my own home, I wasn’t expecting much. But the next morning, I was genuinely surprised by the practically instant results. My acne-marked skin was noticeably calmer and less inflamed, and my cheeks even seemed plumper, more hydrated than before.

I brought the Sensibio Mask with me to a bachelorette party in Nashville and used it at the end of an especially long night. When I woke up, I had hydrated, barely hungover-looking skin, despite the southern heat and tequila sweating from my pores. I next used the mask on a red-eye flight to Paris. After boarding the plane, cleaning my hands with sanitizer and my face with wipes, I applied the scentless cream and pulled down my eye mask to go to sleep. When I landed at Charles de Gaulle, seven hours later, and made my way through customs, my skin felt soft and even looked — dare I say it — dewy, with not a pimple in sight.

And over the next ten days of vacation, the Sensibio mask became my secret weapon. It’s too thick to be used every day, so I deployed it periodically and strategically, like after a long day in the sun or a night of heavy drinking, and that one addition to my abbreviated travel skin-care routine was enough to keep the zits at bay and left me with one less thing to feel bad about when the trip ended, and I had to go back to real life.

Weleda Skin Food is an all-purpose, completely natural moisturizer that I now keep in threes: bedside, car, and purse,” writes Stephanie Danler, who swears by this Swiss cream to keep her skin looking luminous, even while on the road. “I’ve used it to heal scrapes and burns while camping; to calm frizzy hair; and to spot-treat cuticles, elbows, and heels. On a recent trip to an arid, high altitude, I slathered it on my face day and night.”