Whenever I travel abroad, I always leave extra room in my luggage for the great beauty finds from my destination. And for the skincare devotees, there’s no better tourist attraction than the typical French pharmacy, where, instead of the candy bars and colas Americans are used to finding in drugstores, you’ll find rows and upon rows of neatly stocked shelves full of creams, potions, and other products dedicated to the pursuit of la beauté.
Are you en route to France? Be sure to stock up on these beauty essentials, which are difficult—if not impossible—to find stateside.
Products in this French skincare line contain resveratrol, an anti-aging ingredient found in the skin of red grapes that research shows may help slow the pace of aging by delaying cell death and protecting cells from DNA damage. While Caudalíe can be purchased in the U.S., it is less expensive in France and there are more products available.
The company has its own vineyard, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, in Bordeaux where they extract the resveratrol used in their line. For a real treat, visit the estate’s luxurious spa. Caudalíe also has a spa outside Paris and another retreat in New York City at the Plaza hotel.
Sunscreen with Mexoryl SX
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A few years ago, the FDA approved a sunblock ingredient called Mexoryl, which has been available in Europe for years. But many people don’t realize that this included only Mexoryl SL, which does not block as many ultraviolet wavelengths as Mexoryl SX. Hopefully, that will change soon, but until then, pick up a tube or two of La Roche Posay Anthelios with Mexoryl SX during your trip—it’s available at drugstores. Remember that sunscreen loses effectiveness over time, so don’t buy more than you’ll use up in a few months.
Models and other beauty jetsetters swear by this company’s line of dry shampoos, and the Demaquillant Yeux is great for removing eye makeup gently. You can find Klorane in the U.S. but it is less expensive in France.
Said to be the French makeup artist’s best friend, this all-purpose homeopathic ointment can be used to reduce redness, soothe windburn, and relieve chapped lips and hands. It soaks into the skin like a dream and doesn’t leave a glossy sheen like petroleum-based products do. Best of all, a 40 gram tube costs less than €6.
I’m also a huge fan of La Roche-Posay color cosmetics for super-sensitive skin. This make up is specially designed for those with allergies and eczema, and does not contain ingredients that will aggravate those conditions. The ultra-hydrating, glycerine-rich lipsticks are a particular standout, but you have to reapply them often.
French women love this high-quality anti-aging line, especially the moisturizing Serum Haute Hydratation, the Soin Multi-Regenerant Nuit night cream, and the wrinkle-fighting Soin Anti-Rides Densifiant. Dermance also offers popular cosmetic workshops in which their consultants will give you a personalized skincare analysis.
Unlike the other products mentioned above, Dermance is not available at pharmacies. Tip: For a limited time, Americans in France can purchase online through www.dermance.com—in French—and receive delivery within 48 hours (24 hours in Paris) if they enter the code “Fodors” at checkout. Group workshops with an English-speaking beauty consultant can also be arranged by emailing [email protected] or calling (0) 9 81 81 66 60.
Photo Credits: Courtesy Caudaíle, La Roche-Posay, Klorane, and Dermance.