French beauty products that make me say “oui!”

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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.

product photos: stephanie for we heart this

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?

Discover the best of France from home:
• Buy Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre at amazon.
• Or find a Embryolisse retailer near you!
• Shop Bioderma products at amazon.

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.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, a link that gives us a small commission if you purchase the item. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • glamazon56

    Stephanie was born in France and travels there every year. Makeup is her passion (she worked as a makeup artist for Laura Mercier). She also loves to cook and do artsy stuff and garden.


  1. @glamazon56 brought me French travel souvenirs this summer, and I never dreamed how wonderful these French beauty staples would be! The Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre is so powerful, it straddles the border between a cosmetic product and medicine. Dryness and chapping are banished with just a little dollop, and it smells great. I’ve even used it on my hands when they were in need of serious TLC. And Dermophil Indien has become my favorite lip balm. Even the chunky tube seems exotic and special. Stephanie, I’m afraid I’m going to have a shopping list for you the next time you go to France! Great post!

  2. I stayed in Paris with a friend for a few days last fall, and his bathroom was an endless source of amusement for me! There were so many different interesting bottles and potions and paraphernalia. I can’t say as though I have a favorite, it was all pretty entertaining and I actually didn’t buy anything other than food while I was in France, hah! Great post @Glamazon56 !

  3. I can’t say that I have been to France but I like you love to visit pharmacies whenever I visit “exotic” places. I loved the drugstores in Japan. Even in Canada(not so exotic I know) you can pick up some amazing drugstore finds that are not available in the U.S. The same thing can often be said from state to state.

    Great piece Stephanie! I am for sure going to check out some of these French drugstore treasures.

  4. I think I might need that Bioderma. I mean REALLY might need it. Sometimes washing my face is refreshing and sometimes I’m just like, “GAH. I just want to go to BED.”
    A cleansing toner that won’t dry me out. Like for reals won’t dry me out? I’m SO in.

  5. I wish these products were available somewhere in the US. I have friends who have bought their “dream skin care” in Europe. They get back home and search high and low to buy more and replenish. Once they find the exact tube or packaging the formulation it is not usually exactly like what they originally purchased. (The US version is usually has less active ingredients.)

  6. Thanks ladies! I give these products 5 stars and they belong in my products Hall of Fame!
    Did anyone notice my kitty, Clementine in the Bioderma pic? She just wouldn’t move! So cute!

  7. Great info – thank you Stephanie! you’ve made we want to try all these products – and thanks for posting the links on how we can try them through Amazon and what-not. Now, if we order them through Amazon will they be the US inferior version like Holly mentioned though, I wonder? I’d love to try the Dermophil especially right now – my skin has been drier than I ever remember here in Michigan this winter. You’re making me want to visit Paris very badly right now!!

  8. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Paris for the food, shoes, shopping and oh yea, food. (A diet of bread, cheese, fruit and Nutella sounds divine). And now I have another reason – to shop the parapharmacies!

    Love this post @Glamazon56 – and I totally noticed the adorable tufts of fur of Miss Clemintine – so cute!

    Holly O – @hao9703 – you can get the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre and Bioderma products on amazon! Check out the links at the bottom of the post.

  9. Hi @melinda,
    Like Holly mentioned, I encounter the problem 1st hand with a France bought, retinol-based, Avene product that worked wonders. I took it to my dermatologist and the US version was not as effective due to the lower levels of retinol allowed in the US..that pesky FDA ruins all the fun! I assume you would be ok with the above products as none of them have ingredients like retinol or acids.
    I would recommend that if you want the Dermophil, you order it in the colder months..the balm is so soft it is prone to melting in shipment. (My suitcase will testify!)

  10. All of these products sound amazing. Really making me want to plan a trip to Paris one day soon. I’ve always wanted to go, but now even more to shop for beauty products!

  11. I really love Caudalie, symbolizing to me all things French. After reading this post, I like to take a field trip to the parapharmacies to try all things French. If we all do this, is it a tax write-off?

  12. Oh Embryolisse! I’ve been looking for that for ages! Both Sam and Nic from Pixiwoo love Embryolisse. My combo skin needs this stuff, but boy is it expensive!

    @glamazon56 –The FDA does ruin everything! My mom once bought her favorite wine that she had in Bavaria here in the states and she hated it because the FDA requires preservatives in wine (it apparently changes the taste somewhat). There are a lot of products that she used in Bavaria when we lived there (waaaaaaaaaaaaay back when) that she can’t find here too.

  13. @kellie76 – it’s so true, isn’t it? A drugstore in a different country is like an entirely different world! I remember going into a Boots in London (way before their products came to Targets here) and I could have walked around for hours. I felt the same way in the grocery store too. I’d love to walk around one in Japan. I’m sure that was mind blowing.

    I’ve been to France, but not a parapharmacie. I am now incredibly sad I missed it! Fun post @glamazon56

  14. I need to try all of these products! Heard a lot about Embryolisse, and the rest I’m dying to try, especially because we seem to have the same skin type.

  15. great post…i love embryolisse, but had no idea about the other ingredients that were in it…thanks for letting me know!

    my husband and i are living in paris right now and i am loving the french pharmas as well as monoprix for beauty products. i actually just wrote a post about this very topic!

    my fave finds are embryolisse, avibon, marvis whitening toothpaste, weleda amande moisturizer (which feels like embroylisse). my top fave is klorane gentle dry shampoo with oat milk. it absorbs oil perfectly without leaving any white residue. it also gives wonderful texture.

    i LOVE the beauty finds at monoprix…bourjois blush and lip gloss are both amazing.

  16. Great post ! I live in Nice,France and have been trying to figure out what to buy at the Monoprix here. They have soo many face creams and makeup finds. Any suggestions for me? Garnier has a new makeup called BB crème that I’m dying to try :)

    1. ooo! I love a Monoprix! I love the Bourgeois line for makeup. A little bird told me the products are made in the same factory as Chanel…
      As far as skincare, I like Diadermine. They have a nice line of creamy cleansers that are gentle and smell fantastic. I think the Vichy line is in Monoprix as well- which is always great! Vive la France!

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