Beauty
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European Pharmacy Favorites.

By: Jen Shoop

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation. 

MICELLAR WATER // KLORANE SHAMPOO // EMBRYOLISSE MOISTURIZER // MARVIS TOOTHPASTE // KLORANE DRY SHAMPOO // CAUDALIE SETTING SPRAY // NUXE DRY OIL // NUXE LIP BALM // CURAPROX TOOTHBRUSH

One treat of living abroad was having access to the exceptional yet generally well-priced skincare and haircare products that you could score at the local pharmacy, which, at least in Lyon, had the air of a sophisticated department store and was occasionally and unapologetically closed at what I perceived to be odd hours. I specifically recall a handwritten note on the glass door of the pharmacy on Rue Victor Hugo in Lyon: “Fermeture exceptionelle,” with no explanation following, at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. I immediately conjured a maudlin tale of familial illness or bereavement but was at the same time baffled by this seeming lack of professionalism. It was, after all, unthinkable that a CVS would be closed at 2 p.m. on a Saturday in America. I came to appreciate this slender cultural difference, as it reminded me, in its various permutations, that people make the world go around. And so though I would often writhe against the inconvenient reality that certain shops would be closed for the lunch hour, or certain bureaucratic offices would be open only on the obscure third Thursday and second Tuesday of the month, I was also never more aware of a shared humanity: we all fall ill, we all eat, we all sleep, amen. At any rate, lucky for us, many of the items I discovered back then and in the years following are now available for purchase online, often with free shipping. Sharing a few of my favorites and some items with proper cult-followings that I have yet to try…

BIODERMA MICELLAR WATER (SUPER GENTLE WAY TO REMOVE MAKEUP, CLEANSE, AND TONE)

KLORANE SHAMPOO (THEY HAVE FORMULAS FOR ALL DIFFERENT HAIR CONCERNS)

EMBRYOLISSE (PEOPLE *DIE* OVER THIS MOISTURIZER/PRIMER — I FOUND IT A BIT THICK FOR MY NEEDS, BUT DEF WORTH A SHOT GIVEN ITS CULT FOLLOWING STATUS AND AFFORDABLE PRICE)

CAUDALIE ELIXIR (TRULY ADDICTIVE – GREAT FOR SETTING MAKEUP, REFRESHING SKIN, ETC)

MARVIS TOOTHPASTE (FANTASTIC AND IMAGINATIVE FLAVORS)

KLORANE DRY SHAMPOO (MY RIDE OR DIE; FULL REVIEW)

CURAPROX TOOTHBRUSHES (LE BEST — THE HEXAGONAL HANDLE MAKES IT EASY TO ANGLE IN YOUR MOUTH; THE SOFT BRISTLES DO NOT SCRAPE ENAMEL OF TEETH!)

LA ROCHE POSAY FLUID SUNSCREEN (HAVE WORN THIS DAILY FOR YEARS NOW — BLENDS RIGHT IN WITHOUT LEAVING WHITE CAST)

AVENE LIGHT MOISTURIZER (SWEAR BY THIS FOR SUMMERTIME)

NUXE DRY OIL — SO MANY FRENCH WOMEN SWEAR BY THIS MULTI-PURPOSE OIL (FOR FACE, BODY, HAIR)

NUXE LIP BALM — LOL AT THE DESCRIPTION: “A PARISIAN WOMAN NEEDS PERFECTLY SMOOTHED LIPS TO ASSUME HER KISS REPUTATION”; BUT SERIOUSLY, THIS GETS INCREDIBLE REVIEWS AND DOUBLES AS A CUTICLE CREAM

COMPAGNIE DE PROVENCE SAVON MARSEILLE — BEAUTIFUL HAND SOAP IN GREAT SCENTS

HOMEOPLASMINE — FOR EXTRA DRY SKIN/ULTRA-CHAPPED LIPS (APPARENTLY IN EVERY FRENCH MAKEUP ARTIST’S ARSENAL)

VICHY VITAMIN C SERUM — CURRENTLY USING MYSELF; I FIND IT DIFFICULT TO APPLY BUT SEEMS TO BE ACHIEVING THE INTENDED RESULT OF BRIGHTENING SKIN JUST AS WELL AS OTHERS I’VE TESTED!

CAUDALIE’S VINOPERFECT SERUM GETS STRONG REVIEWS

P.S. More affordable beauty buys.

P.P.S. Musings on living abroad. And more here.

P.P.P.S. Recent honest beauty reviews.

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20 thoughts on “European Pharmacy Favorites.

  1. I felt the same way when I studied abroad in Spain.. like what random holiday is this and why is the Farmacia closed ?! Last time in Paris I stocked UP on pharmacy goodies for Christmas gifts. Like Nuxe hand cream/lip balm sets, Caudalie vinoperfect hand cream (LOVE the scent, they sell at Sephora but it was only 7€ in Paris!!). Unfortunately I made the mistake in the London airport of putting all this in my carryon and the security agent had to open all my gift sets… and I had to throw away all my American skincare to fit in their tiny clear bag. Which I was fine with, but lesson learned!!

  2. Some wonderful recommendations listed here! A sentimental favorite of mine is Roger et Gallet Jean Marie Farina bath products. They were stocked at the hotel where I stayed during my first trip to Paris. Aromatic and citrusy.

    1. I also loved Roger et Gallet soap when I studied abroad! I remember buying them from the department store in Lyon! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

      xx

  3. Related: the EU version of La Roche Posay fluid sunscreen (the one with the ingredients we can’t get in the US) is my favorite duty-free item to pick up when transiting Europe. I recently realized that most Scandinavian airports have really fantastic duty frees that go way beyond your standard giant bottles of liquor and perfume and carry a lot more regular pharmacy items that one might actually need.

  4. Avene products saved my skin and resolved a mysterious eye rash that plagued me and various dermatologists for years! My current dream vacation is spend a month at the Avene spa in France. Nuxe products smell like summer in the south of France to me, although I prefer the Caudalie lip balm to the Nuxe one! Curious if the articles I’m reading about how much better European sunscreens are compared to US ones are true. If so, it’s yet another reason to use French pharmacy products!

  5. Jen!! That is literally my exact shampoo and toothpaste, and I use the caudalie vinoperfect serum. Another favorite is Vea (vitamin e based): they make a pure vitamin e that gets given out by lactation consultants here, Vea lipogel that I was given for my stretch marks, and Vea Huile Seche which is the most perfect oil spray post-shower. I will say I use the micellar water marketed at babies over here, it’s a fraction of the price and smells heavenly! And my kids use Rivadouce shower gel. Also, most villages have a “pharmacie de garde” that rotates so that there is always one open on nights or weekends!

  6. I’ve used that Caudalie serum, and the brightening essence, for years now and it’s been a wonderful alternative for my very sensitive skin that can’t tolerate even the smallest amount of vitamin C.

  7. Thanks for the tips. I ordered a few French goodies from your list today. Miss those French pharmacies and Monoprix !

  8. We were on a trip in Greece with a long list of sights to see. A nasty blister was about to ruin my trip. As soon as I spotted a local pharmacy you betcha I marched right in. All I had to to is point to the back of my heel and the associate showed me these awesome blister pads. I slapped that on and away I went and never looked back. What would have been a disaster was saved by these silicone pads. Now, I bring them on every trip to requires a lot of walking. The brand is compeep!

      1. Thank you so much for the tip! Was just able to find them on Amazon — amazing!! I’m sure these will be a huge improvement over the standard Bandaids I use that then get bunched up on my heel/in my sock. Grazie!

        xx

  9. I am a total sucker for European pharmacy products. Feel so much fancier than CVS products! And I love that the EU has banned many ingredients that the US allows. Just bought too many of the products in this post – will report back!! Can’t wait for them to arrive.

    1. Me too – they DO feel fancier (and better made, and more legit…). Let me know what you think of these items!! xx

  10. Hi! May I suggest la roche posay’s Pure vitamin C10 serum: I find it much better that the Vichy one. Also love the SVR vitamin C serum. Both very easy to apply (and I love most of the products by these two brands).

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