For years I’ve been reading reviews that tell of the superiority of French skincare products over some of the options available in America. The first time I visited the country in 2014, I did some advance research about the best French skincare products to buy when visiting. I was inundated with options, and I settled on a handful to try out.
While not all have had miraculous effects on my skin, the three listed below stood out as being worth the hype. For the most part, they are less expensive to buy in a French pharmacie than in the U.S. – even online – so it’s worth it to weigh down your suitcase with all of the bottles!
Bioderma Crèaline H2O
I read enough reviews with headlines like “The One Skincare Product You Must Buy When Visiting France” and “What Models and Makeup Artists Stock Up On In France” to give this seemingly simple makeup remover a go. Bioderma Crèaline H2O is widely used in the modeling industry to remove even the most heavily-applied makeup, and legend has it that models will pack suitcases full of it to take home after a visit to France. I myself grabbed 6 bottles on my latest visit.
What I soon discovered is this product is way more than a makeup remover. It can outright replace washing your face in the morning and at night (though after trying that out for a few months, I found that I prefer to use a gentle facial cleanser before applying Bioderma).
The solution very gently and effectively removes makeup while wiping the face squeaky clean. My skin always feels refreshed after using it, and not too dry. It doesn’t require a rinse after use, just a few seconds to dry before applying any serums or lotions.
I haven’t found this product in U.S. pharmacies, but it is available online under the name “Sensibio” (same formula, different name outside of France). I recently bought six 500ml bottles in Lyon for 16.20€/$18.10* for a package of two (8.10€/$9.05* each). After some searching online, the best price I could find was on Amazon for $16.90 each.
NUXE Huile Prodigieuse
Every morning and night after using Bioderma, I apply this oil – yes, oil – all over my face. Before you tell me I’m crazy, let me reassure you that this is a dry oil, meaning it won’t make your skin even oilier or result in breakouts.
I’ve been using NUXE Huile Prodigieuse for two years straight, and my skin has never looked or felt better. I even go some days at work without wearing foundation, something I never used to feel confident doing!
And it smells absolutely divine – delicate, beachy, tropical. I love the scent it leaves on my hands after I rub it into my skin!
After applying it in the morning it leaves a luminous glow on my face. At night I can feel it soak in to make my skin supple and smooth. When I go on vacation or travel for work and don’t wear it for a few days at a time, I feel and see a noticeable difference.
As I mentioned before, I have combination skin that doesn’t react to much. I can’t speak for how naturally oily skin would fare with this product. The promise is that it is a dry oil and won’t create more of a problem for those with oily skin, but I wouldn’t know from experience. If you have oily skin and have tried this product, let me know about your experience in the comments below!
NUXE Huile Prodigieuse can also be applied all over the body and to hair. I’ve only used it on my hair once and didn’t notice too much of a difference, though it probably takes repeated applications to see results. I haven’t had the time or patience to oil up my hair and let it sit for hours on the weekends – though it could use the treatment!
Tip: The one place I won’t apply it is to my neck – I’ll use a standard face or body lotion for that. I’ve found that the oil takes time to soak in and my hair will stick to it when it’s on my neck, leaving my hair looking and feeling oily. Not a great look for work.
Bought for 19.50€/$21.79* each for the 100ml bottle. You can get it direct from NUXE for $45.00 for the 3.3 fl oz version (same size). Some online retailers sell it for slightly less.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Lait Sunscreen (SPF 30+)
Raise your hand if you hate using sunscreen because of how gross it makes your skin feel.
Now what if I told you there was a sunscreen out there that went on like a light lotion and soaked in like one too?
There is!! (Said with a Reese Witherspoon/Elle Woods squeal straight out of Legally Blonde.)
It’s called lait (milk) because it truly feels like it going on your skin – in a good way. It spreads on quite easily without having to coax it in, and within a minute it feels dry to the touch, not oily, not sticky, just right!
The only thing that makes Anthelios stand out as a sunscreen is the standard sunscreen smell. Otherwise it might as well be a great lotion.
Anthelios sunscreen is widely available in the U.S., but for a price. I snagged a 100ml bottle for 14.89€/$16.64* in Lyon, and a slightly larger 150ml bottle would cost me $35.99 at my CVS in D.C. Amazon Prime also has it available for the same price.
Have you used these products before or plan to try them? Let me know your experiences in the comments below!
*The exchange rate at the time of my trip was 1€ = $1.12.
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