Shopping The French Pharmacie….From Home

French pharmacie beauty products

As soon as we land in France, I begin keeping an eye out for those green cross neon signs that mark the spot of one of my favorite shopping destinations: la pharmacie. French women are serious about skin care, and I’ve found the staff at these pharmacies to be very knowledgeable and up-to-date on products and which best address particular concerns.

I love perusing the shelves and products. There’s always something new to discover, and I try to save some room in my luggage to stock up on favorite skincare and beauty products that may not be available back home. But lately, I’ve found that to be less of an issue, as many of my favorite French “drugstore” products are now available online.

favorite beauty products from French pharmacie

Top Row:

  • I first tried this moisturizer from Filorga a couple of years ago, on the recommendation of an aunt’s  sister, who works in a pharmacie in Paris. I like it as well if not better than the Eucerin Hyaluron, and now that Nordstrom is carrying this line, it’s easier to get. It has hyaluronic acid which plumps the skin and helps keep it hydrated. The texture is lighter than the Eucerin, and it absorbs well.
  • Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is considered the “gold standard” of anti-oxidant serums. It’s pricey, yes, but that little bottle lasts for months. As an alternative, you can also try the Auriga Flavo-C which I’ve used for the Vitamin C to try to keep my brown spots at bay. Vitamin C is also supposed to help stimulate collagen, which boosts firmness and elasticity.
  • This is the eye cream that brought me back around to using eye creams. It’s very moisturizing, but not at all greasy. Absorbs quickly and doesn’t interfere with makeup, but doesn’t do a vanishing act after a few hours either.

Bottom Row:

  • I’ve been using Bioderma micellar water as a makeup remover for a few years now, and still love it. I use with large cotton pads, but have been thinking about trying these reusable cotton face rounds as a more environmentally friendly alternative.
  • After removing makeup, I wash with this gentle cleansing milk. I love the subtle rose fragrance! It’s non-drying and works well used in conjunction with my Clarisonic, or just with a washcloth or hands.
  • Once a week or if my skin is just feeling a little tight and dry, I use this hydrating mask. It can also be left on overnight.

I’d like to thank my lovely friend Tish Jett, who first turned me on to the micellar water, vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid moisturizer and moisture mask. If you haven’t yet read her fantastic book, “Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets For Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance,” it contains a wealth of skin care information, all well-researched and delightfully presented.

Do you have a favorite drugstore beauty product, or one that you’ve discovered while traveling?



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  1. When in Paris, I never miss a stop at CityPharma on the corner of Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte. It truly is my happy place! I pick up my favorite toner: Eau de Fleur d’Oranger by Gilbert Laboratories. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is dirt cheap there as well as toothpaste and another items I may need during and after our stays.
    When we are in Theoule, I’m too lazy living my beach bumlette existence so I load up on my beauty/skincare products at Geant hypermarche. Their beauty area is epic. I load up on my Le Petit Marseilias Fleur d’Oranger gel mousse Extra Doux (it is the most hydrating bath gel and great for shaving the legs), moisturizer, and soap. This year I discovered a new line of spray parfum to carry in my purse–Adopt’ perfume. 7 Euros a tube. Epic.

  2. Last year in Denmark I discovered the Nuxe line and I am smitten ! Do you consider trying\sampling their rosewater micellar. Lovely and refreshing after a hot summer day . Yes her book is a good read .
    Thanks ( from Nashville Tennessee ) for the suggestions.

  3. My sister is the pharmacist owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart…. so I always get a bag of drugstore goodies as Christmas or birthday gifts. Every year she says she should give me “something nicer” but I demur… I love my goodie bag. I think that we have more of the French brands here in Canada than you do south of the border. I love La Roche-Posay products. I use their Hydraphase UV with SPF 30 as my summer day cream. It’s lovely and light for hot days. I also use their Anthelios XL SPF 60 for fishing or cycling. And lately I’ve tried Vichey Liftactiv retinal concentrate at night. The young cosmetician who works at my sister’s store recommended it and gave me a generous sample to try for a week. My skin is sensitive and I often get reactions to a new product several days after I’ve started using it. So a tiny sample is of no use to me. I’ve found several of the brands that Tish recommends in her book at my sister’s store. So much easier that travelling all the way to France. Still.. a trip to Paris would be nice:)

    1. I’m a big fan of La Roche-Posay as well. And find them great for my sensitive skin. Lait Demaquillant (makeup remover which can be used without rinsing and feels great – so creamy), Respectissime (waterproof eye makeup remover), Eau Micellaire for peaux sensibles (micellar water for sensitive skin) and Toleriane Dermo-Nettoyante (face wash for sensitive skin) which I keep and use in the bath.

  4. Nuxe huile precieuse is not only great on the skin but smells heavenly.
    Biafine cream is great for burns, including sunburn.
    Avène has lots of wonderful products, including sunscreen, makeup and a cream for avoiding scars.
    Can’t do without my Bioderma micellar water, but I also like Bioderma sunscreen.

    1. That’s interesting, as I’ve never found it in any drugstores here. Wish it were more available!

        1. Also easily found online at places like (no affiliation, though I’ve bought SkinCeuticals stuff there many, many times over the years). They frequently have discount codes, but alas the SkinCeuticals products generally aren’t included in the discounts. I love SkinCeuticals’ Physical Fusion SPF 50 face sunscreen–works wonders on my very sensitive skin, which can’t tolerate chemical sunscreens.

          1. SkinCeuticals make lovely products. They are primarily available in the US through Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologist offices. They also have a few authorized online sellers including their own website. The distribution model for many products is different outside of the US due to various regulations and areas of opportunity.

      1. It’s definitely not a drugstore product. I usually purchase it from the website, but shops and spas near me like Blue Mercury carry the products.

        1. Hi Lee, in France it is though, and I’ve seen and purchased various Skinceutical products at pharmacies. I guess marketing is just different here.

          1. That kind of product would never be stocked in an American drugstore or a pharmacy, which would be limited by the FDC to prescription or OTC medications. I think the company wouldn’t want its product to be in a drugstore, which would convey the idea that the products are inexpensive. Also the FDC has rules about what is a medicine and what belongs in a pharmacy.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve the impression that a French pharmacist is treated more as a medical professional from whom one might solicit advice about health, etc. That’s not true in America. The pharmacist dispenses the medication a doctor prescribed and explained to the patient.

            I’ve always ordered from the Skinceuticals website. It’s easy, and I get all the new products the moment they’re released.

  5. I made several trips to CityPharma when we were in Paris last winter. Even in Euros the pharmacy products are much less expensive than the US versions. La Roche Posay is practically half the price, especially at CityPharma and the Avene products also are well priced. France is the best for this but other EU countries also have wonderful pharmacies. We are just back from Finland and Estonia, where I replenished my supply of LRP sunscreen and also discovered Bioderma Sensibio Light, a moisturizing and soothing cream for oily skin that I needed because the cooler weather made the skin care I had brought with me too harsh.

  6. I also use the Bioderma micellar water, usually in the morning when I first wake up. I also use La Roche-Posay thermal spring water or one by Avene- it’s so hot now. I would have to have a magnifying glass to read the fine print on the containers, but I believe they don’t contain chlorine or other city water additives. Bought the La Roche at Walgreen’s and ordered the Avene from Amazon. I’ve seen the Nuxe products at Target, but haven’t tried them. My dermatologist sells Skinceuticals and several other lines. Thanks for sharing – I will look for the Filorga. Do you know if it is in the stores at Nordstrom or online only?

    1. Oh yes, I also like the La Roche-Posay thermal spring water – great in the travel size or for a refreshing spritz on a hot day.

  7. I’m not French but live in France and have been using the pharmacy products for years – Bioderma and Avene and always, always LRP’s Anthelios dry-touch SPF50 sunscreen. They’re absolutely brilliant. You can get them from online drugstores here that are even cheaper than the bricks-and-mortar kind. I use but I don’t know if they deliver outside France.

  8. I like the Nuxe line. I use the rose gel cleanser as my skin is not dry; I like the scrub too, it is a gentle scrub. In the US, you can buy Nuxe directly from their website. And the Target website has some products (some Target stores carry Nuxe but not all the stores have it), and Amazon stocks some Nuxe products.

  9. I love to hit the French pharmacies as well!
    There is no better way to really see what French women use for themselves and their families. I travelled to Paris a few years ago with a nasty rash above my lip, (note to self: waxing on face is not for me!), and got some very good advice and product at a pharmacy.
    It is such a pleasure to be in a place where luxe products are really every day items.
    Thanks for the great photos and words about your trip Susan!

  10. Hello !
    I’m french and I live in Paris !
    it’s really funny for us to read articles talking about how you see us, we the French!

    Otherwise very good (and funny to me) article!


  11. I use most of the same products! and that is probably because I too got my suggestions from Tish Jett’s book! I discovered Filorga on my own in a fall of 2013 Paris visit … Sleep Recover was the new product and it was displayed in pharmacy windows. Since then I’ve tried and liked/loved a lot of Filorga products–IsoStructure might be my favorite one. I order them through French Cosmetics for Less on the Web. I also love Monoprix’s hand and body creams with argan oil and shea butter–but haven’t found anyplace to get them here! And there is a Garnier line of body lotion I like too that can’t be found here.

  12. I just purchased the Filorga Time Filler and I love it! Thanks for sharing all of these products with us. I was wondering if you use the Time Filler in the morning and evening or just the evening. Also which moisturizers do you use for daytime? Oh and I just ordered Tish’s book. THanks again for your blog…so informative. I used your packing list for my recent trip to Ireland and it helped me tremendously!