Paris Shopping Guide: Beauty Products in French Pharmacies
The French beauty routine. The French women’s natural beauty. You have heard about them and want to age gracefully too. Is the transforming magic in French skincare products? Since you are in France, it’s your chance to find out if these products do wonders for your face (at a lower price tag). Search out these beauty products in French Pharmacies
Moreover, if you love to scour through Japan’s drugstores for beauty products, you can find a similar experience at these pharmacies. However, it is harder to spot these pharmacies with beauty products in France than the drugstores in Japan. So do your research and plan your route in advance!
Jump to the relevant section:
- About Para-Pharmacies
- Brands of Beauty Products in French Pharmacies
- Buying Clarins in France
- Tax Refund
- Shopping Guide: What to buy in Paris, France? (coming up)
- Food Diary: What’s Our Food in Paris?
- Is Paris a good idea?
- All about France: travel.joogostyle.com/tag/france
There are many pharmacies in France, easily spotted with their neon green crosses sticking out to illuminate the streets. I went on a wild goose search for La Roche-Posay and Clarins, only to find out that not all pharmacies carry beauty products.
There is the traditional “pharmacie” where people get medical advice and prescriptions and even take ART tests. Then there is the “para-pharmacie” where you find dermatology products to help one maintain healthy skin. So this is the pharmacy to go to if your purpose is to score some affordable beauty products. Apparently, most Parisians head here instead of beauty counters for the wide range of brands, prices and advice from well-trained pharmacists.
Citypharma and Pharmacie Monge are the two big para-pharmacies to check out. An article on myfrenchlife.org has good information on these two shops. Other shops/pharmacies to buy French beauty products include Galeries Lafayette, Pharmacie des Archives, and Grande Pharmacie Bailly (not the one in 16th arrondissement).
The one I went to and had good buys is Citypharma near Saint Germain des Près metro.
- Address: 26 rue du Four, 75006 Paris
- Métro: Mabillon or Saint Germain des Près
- Hours: Mon to Fri, 9am – 7pm; Sat and Sun, 10am – 4pm
- Website: pharmacie-citypharma.fr/en/about-us
Pharmacy Monge Notre Dame is smaller and less crowded than Citypharma but has longer opening hours on the days it is opened. Apparently, it’s popular among Koreans because of a blogger’s recommendation.
- Address: 1 Place Monge 75005 Paris
- Métro: Place Monge
- Hours: Mon to Sat, 8am – 8pm; Sun, Closed
- Website: pharmacie-monge.fr
Brands of Beauty Products in French Pharmacies
Pharmacies might overwhelm you with its myraid of brands and crowd. Hence, it’s best to go in knowing what you want. Do you your research in advance instead of googling them at the shop.
To help you kickstart the process, read on for the list and introduction of the more popular brands of beauty products in French Pharmacies, such as Caudalie, La Roch-Posay, and Avène. Most of the brands are surprisingly also available in Singapore’s pharmacies – Guardian and Watsons. I only knew that about La Roch-Posay and Avène because of their prominent presence on the shelves.
Brands also found in Singapore’s Pharmacies
Avène thermal spring water comes from the Sainte-Odile Spring, South of France. By 1847, this water is known for its soothing properties to treat skin concerns. It is thus declared by the French government to be a “public benefit” and the French Healthcare System reimbursed Avène Hydrotherapy Center. In 1966, this center was purchased by Pierre Fabre Laboratories, the second largest private pharmaceutical company in France today. (Source: www.aveneusa.com/history)
Popular Product: Thermal Spring Water Spray
Bioderma Laboratories, according to Wikipedia, is a privately owned French pharmaceutical company that specialises in medication for dermatological and hair or scalp conditions among others. It is founded in 1977, in Aix en Provence (France) where its headquarters still resides.
Popular Product: Micellar water
Caudalie was founded in 1995 by Mathilde Thomas. It is a cult brand known for using vinotherapy techniques in its skincare products. Wikipedia describes Vinotherapy as a beauty therapy process where the residue of wine making (the pips and pulp) are rubbed into the skin. The pulp is claimed to have exfoliating qualities and reduce signs of ageing.
Popular Products: Vinoperfect Serum, Beauty Elixir (Face Mist)
Embryolisse was founded in 1950 by a dermatologist in Saint Louis hospital, Paris. They use natural ingredients in their products — shea butter, beeswax, aloe vera and soy proteins, expertly extracted from organic flora and fauna. Lait-Crème Concentré can be used as a daily moisturiser for face and body, make up primer or make up remover, or aftershave to soothe irritated skin. Good for all skin types and the whole family – man, woman, and children.
For those in Singapore, you can sign up for a trial kit.
Popular Product: Lait-Crème Concentré (all-purpose cream)
Klorane was created in 1965 by the founder’s passion for plants and his belief in their health and beauty benefits. Later in 1971, Klorane developed the first dry shampoo on the market and it has since been a popular product. It was intended for new mothers who just gave birth.
Popular Product: Dry Shampoo
Back in 2006, the company revolutionized the sunscreen market with Mexoryl SX™, the only sun filter in a sunscreen formula to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Two years later, the company combined sun filters with antioxidants which protect the skin from free radicals caused by the sun and known to accelerate skin aging.
A beautician recommended me La Roch Posay products, specifically the serums, for my dry skin. It’s quite an affordable range especially when there are discounts in Guardian and Watsons. So when I found out it’s a French brand, I searched for it in Paris, along with Clarins.
I was excited to see the racks of La Roche-Posay products at CityPharma, especially when the serums sold at the the pharmacy are so much cheaper than those in Singapore. I also bought sunscreens and Eau Thermal spray for myself and the girls. Yeap, the spray is children-friendly. Perhaps I should try its strong competitor, Avène, the next time.
Popular Product: Thermal Spring Water Spray, Serums and Sunscreen
Nuxe is a French brand founded by Aliza Jabès and a pioneer in natural-origin cosmetology. Each skincare product is formulated and manufactured in France to meet pharmaceutical quality requirements. Its popular Huile Prodigieuse® is a botanical oil that can nourish and repair the face, body and hair in a single step. It’s lightly fragranced too. Other than Watsons, you can find it at Tangs Singapore too.
Popular Product: Huile Prodigieuse
Vichy Laboratoires was founded in 1931 by Dr Haller, the first medical practitioner to make the link between health and beauty, laying the foundations of French dermo-cosmetics. The brand is currently owned by L’Oréal. Vichy Mineralizing Water is from the preserved region of Auvergne volcanoes in France, and is the key ingredient in Vichy skincare products.
Popular Product: Daily hyaluronic acid serum
Brands not in Singapore’s Pharmacies
I prefer buying brands I can find in Singapore, so if I like them, I can continue using them. Of course with the world as a shopping mall, you can probably get them online too. So if you like to try products that’s hard to find in Singapore, here are a few suggestions: Biotherm, Darphin, Payot and Filorga.
There’s one particular product that came up quite often in my research for this post, and I believe it’s worth a buy in France: Biafine Emulsion tube cream (93g/186g) .
The cream heals burns, sunburns, cuts, abrasions and even mosquito bites! It can also soothe irritated skin, just not to be used every day as a moisturiser. I’ve read that this tube is a pharmacy staple for many French households and rumoured to heal the skin in half the time. The big tube is about €5 in a French pharmacy, while highly marked up elsewhere in the world.
Buying Clarins in France
This French Skincare brand was founded by Jacques Courtin-Clarins in Paris during the 1950s. In 1968, Clarins was the first brand to begin selling 100% pure plant extracts, like its Tonic Body Treatment Oil, in perfume stores. More of Clarins history on their website.
I first tried Clarins products during my first pregnancy. I like putting their Tonic Body Treatment Oil on my pregnant body but I am not sure how effective it is though. It just made me feel good. Thereafter, I tried other products of Clarins. I love their sunscreen that comes with a pink tint. It doubles up as a foundation and made my face glow during my run-errands-without-make-up days. Another product I was on the lookout for is Hydrating Gentle Foaming Cleanser. Nice smell, though slightly drying. Based on online reviews, this is either a hit or a miss.
Btw, this is not a paid review!
I’m trying to convince you to purchase a Clarins product or two since you are in the brand’s homeland, Paris. Like how I bought Hydra-Essentiel Cream to try because of a good deal in Paris. I like it, although some may find it thick.
However, be sure to compare the product prices with Clarins Singapore. Surprisingly, prices in France are not necessarily cheaper than the promotional prices of Clarins Singapore. Perhaps, there weren’t any good deals when I was in Paris. Of course, if the prices are comparable, a tax refund will make the buys in France more enticing.
I searched all around Paris, even pharmacies, and finally found “discounted” Clarins at Nocibé. It is a chain shop which carries big perfume and cosmetic brands. Otherwise, you can visit Clarin’s outlet shop at La Vallee Village (near Disney and our Airbnb). Or look out for seasonal promotions in Clarins boutiques found at shopping malls and the airport.
My hubby retraced his steps back to Citypharma after I realised we could get a tax refund and needed to process it at the shop on the same day. So remember to fill up the tax refund form before you leave the shop. And bring your passport out on shopping days!
Who is eligible for Tax-Free Shopping?
- If you have permanent residence in a non-EU country
- If you are older than 16
- If you spend more than 100.01 EUR
What should you do to get a tax refund?
- You need to show your passport to the shop staff to get the Detaxe form.
- The form must be completed on the day of purchase. It has to be signed by you and the shop staff.
- Keep the Detaxe form along with the receipt. At the airport, you can either get an instant cash refund at the Detaxe counter or a refund on your credit card at the detaxe machine called ‘PABLO’. Cash gives a lower percentage of refunds than credit cards. Hence, it’s better pay your items with credit card and get higher tax refunds later on.
Have fun shopping! Let me know what other beauty brands or products to hunt for? Share them in the comments box below. Love to hear from you. :)
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