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I was born in France and go back to visit my family every year. I love everything about this beautiful country with it’s endless amounts of things to do and see. Le Louvre, La Tour Eiffel, L’Arc de Triomphe to name only a few…
But what is MY favorite thing to do in a city like Paris? Visit pharmaicies, of course! Parapharmacies to be exact. A parapharmacie is a large pharmacie that specializes in skincare. They also sell makeup, perfume and soaps- think Bigelow Apothecary. Some of the fabulous French skincare lines include, La Roche Posay, Nuxe, Avene, Caudalie and BioTherm. I troll these sterile Sephoras frequently and thoroughly in search of the latest and greatest or oldies, but goodies. (Image: La Diaphane by Giclee art print via Enjoy Art)
This summer while in France, I bought my usual standbys and a new product that I just must tell you about.
I discovered Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre a few years ago on the recommendation of my mom’s friend, and I have been stocking my suitcase with it ever since! Embryolisse was founded in 1950 by a French dermatologist who specialized in skin pathology. Seeing a lack of gentle yet hydrating products for his patients, he formulates this cream with super hydrating ingredients like Karite butter, aloe, soy and hylauronic acid to name a few.
This beloved cream is a staple in most French beauty addict’s closets. It is a secret weapon of makeup artists and facialists. In 2007, over 10 Million tubes were sold and this milestone was commemorated with a limited edition vintage tube.
Truthfully, the lush cream is a bit rich for my oily skin, but I use it in the winter when I get dehydrated and it works immediately. The cream glides on and has a familiar smell like kissing that aunt with the soft skin that smelled so good! The cream penetrates deeply and does not make the skin feel greasy. It provides serious hydration yet makes your skin feel light and soft.
Bioderma Sebium H2O is a new product to me, but is a now a keeper! This toner is formulated for oily or combination skin and is used to regulate sebum and purify the epidermis. The Bioderma company from Lyon, France was developed closely with dermatologists and was the 1st independent laboratory that catered to French dermatologists. The company claims Bioderma is the most frequently prescribed by doctors, but is found in most parapharmacies! Yay!
This cleansing water is soap free, non-foaming and no rinsing is required. The company recommends to pat dry, but I do not feel the need. The solution is very soothing yet refreshing. I like the idea of a quick swipe with a cotton pad, and on those lazy nights in front of True Blood, this does the trick!
Unlike most toners for oily skin, the skin is left moist and supple with no pulling or tightness. It cleanses thoroughly , but does not strip the skin, a claim most toners make, but often fails to deliver. Cleansing waters and oils are popular right now in skincare. Bioderma offered the 1st cleansing waters and the 1st non-detergent shampoo. With 20 years of innovation, the company offers a “holistic corrective solution based on skintype”.
I saved the best for last…or at least my favorite since I was a child. Anyone who knows me can describe my lip balm collection. It is massive and spans every pocket, purse and vehicle in my possession. I have tried them all and have my favorites. This is my end all be all. Dermophil Indien has been around since the beginning of time. My grandmother and mom wore it when I was a baby and as a result of being covered with kisses, the smell is so familiar and wonderful to me.
Dermophil Indien was founded in 1918, when it was used as a revolutionary formula developed by a pharmacist to care for French soldiers’ skin who had suffered from burns in the trenches in the 1st world war. After the success of this first product, Laboratoire Dermophil Indien emerged and gradually developed its range of pharmacy products, all of them equally effective and designed to treat and protect the most exposed areas of our skin, particularly the lips and hands.
The first of these products, the famous lip salve, was launched in the 1950’s and was immediately given marketing authorisation as a pharmaceutical product. The product quickly expanded into a range of 3 lip salves (traditional, pink and transparent) and a maxi-salve for the hands, feet and sensitive areas of skin.
The tube is large, medical-looking and unbreakable. It winds up solidly and has a thick dose of balm ready to hydrate. The smell is pretty strong, yet pleasant and (to me) smells like a fresh washed baby. The hydration is incomparable to other lip balms. I reserve this one for serious cases of chapped lips. This is not your pretty, my lips feel dry and I need some shine, oh no ladies, Dermophil Indien is serious! My only complaint is that it is so hydrating that if you use too much, you can get a white smear on the lips. One pass is sufficient.
I hope all of you have a chance one day to visit my beautiful country. Not only to soak in the culture and historical sites, but also to fill your suitcases with the French parapharmacie treasures you will discover!
What French treasures can’t YOU live without?
Stephanie was born in France and travels there every year to visit her mom and relatives. She now lives Stateside with her fiancee, Bubba and their two-year old kitties; Winston and Clementine. Makeup is her passion (she worked as a makeup artist for Laura Mercier), she also loves to cook, do artsy stuff and garden.
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