It’s true what they say, French women always look and smell good! The secret lies in the simplicity and elegance of their routine. As a beauty editor, I’ve always been curious about beauty rituals and ingredients from around the globe. From Ayurveda to Korean, Japanese and even Indian pharmacy finds, I’ve tried them all. What really made French pharmacy brands stand out for me was their clean ingredient list and the simplicity of the actual skincare routine.
French skincare products are often made using locally sourced natural ingredients, botanical extracts, and plant oils. The products are mild and focus on hydration, repair, and maintenance of the skin. Their skincare routines are built on the philosophy of less is more, whether that’s ingredients in your products or steps in your routine. Compared to traditional Korean skincare routines, the biggest differentiator is the number of steps or the products used. A Korean skincare routine can be elaborate, time-consuming, and involves as many as 10 steps while a French skincare routine is relatively simple between 3-5 steps. Cleanse, mist, treat/moisturise and protect.
French skincare is slightly more expensive, but you’re paying for the locally and ethically sourced ingredients, cutting-edge research and elegant formulations. The French really do know how to make skincare an ‘experience’. Nuxe, Caudalie, La Roche Posay, Avene, Bioderma and ByTerry are some of my favourite French skincare brands.
If you had to build a skincare routine inspired by the French, here are some of my top picks.
While the rest of the world might have cleansing balms and oils, the French have Bioderma’s Micellar Water. In my experience with beauty over the 15-odd years, I haven’t found any other micellar water that compares to this. Use this as the first cleanse and follow it up with a gentle cleanser for your skin type.
A toner or essence in Korean skincare routines is usually a mist in French skincare routines. The Avene Thermal Water is one of my favourites for my face and body. It is expensive, but totally worth it.
The Caudalie Vinoperfect Serum is my top pick here. It’s one of the mildest, yet most effective serums I’ve used. I’m on my third bottle and I don’t think I ever want to be without this. It’s made using Vinifirine, Caudalie’s patented ingredient that’s derived from vine sap. It is said to be 62 times more effective than conventional Vitamin C.
I have dry skin that’s always itchy and irritated so the La Roche Posay Cicaplast is my top pick here. It’s a rich, elegant formulation with ingredients like Vitamin B5, Cica and Glycerin to keep your skin hydrated.
This one’s a tough call because I actually prefer Korean and Japanese sunscreens but if I were to pick, I’d say the La Roche Posay Anthelios. The watery texture combined with the sleek packaging makes it pretty easy to toss into the smallest of handbags.
If there’s one brand that has me in a chokehold, it’s Nuxe. Their Prodigieuse range is my favourite, it smells creamy and floral like white flowers and vanilla. I once read that this is exactly what French women smell like. Or rather, this is why they smell so good all the time! If you like scented body care, try their body oils, perfumes and shower oils. They will leave you looking and smelling like your best self. The fragrance lingers on throughout the day.
A Hidden Gem That Does It All
Chapped lips? Cuts and bruises? Dry elbows and knees? Dry cuticles? The Eucerin Aquaphor Balm is one such multipurpose product that will continue to amaze you.
We can’t conclude an article on French beauty routines without talking about red lipstick, can we? If you love red, the ByTerry Lip-Expert Matte Liquid Lipstick in the shade Red Carpet is the perfect tone of red!
If you plan on taking a trip to Europe, go with an empty suitcase for your French pharmacy skincare haul (and your luxury bag haul, of course).