As soon as any beauty addict steps off the Eurostar at Paris Gare du Nord, they have one thing on their mind: where's the nearest pharmacy? Favoured by make-up artists, models and beauty editors alike, French skincare is rightly famed for its fuss-free yet effective formulas, at reassuringly affordable prices.
Best of all, French 'pharmacie' brands are now readily available this side of the channel - along with traditional pharmacies, high street favourites like Boots and Superdrug offer a strong line up, while beauty e-tailers like Escentual and Cult Beauty can be relied upon for under-the-radar favourites. Happy shopping...
La Roche Posay
Must Buy: Effaclar Duo, £15.50
Before La Roche Posay became widely available on British shelves, it wasn’t unheard of for beauty editors to jump on the Eurostar to fill their suitcases with the brand’s simple, dermatologist-approved formulas. These days, though, we’re spoilt for choice, as LRP offers targeted solutions for even the most sensitive skin. Sun-worshippers should swear by the Anthelios range, which provides UVA and UVB protection, while the Effaclar line is an essential for congested hormonal skin.
Must buy: Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution, £10.50
We’d be hard-pressed to narrow down our top three French exports, but if we absolutely had too, we’d pick baguettes, Breton tops and Bioderma. Head backstage at any catwalk show and you’ll find bottles upon bottles of the original – and best – micellar solution. A staple in any make-up artist’s kit, Bioderma’s simple, sting-free formula is also a firm favourite with models, removing all traces of product residue with the swipe of a cotton wool pad.
Step into any French pharmacy and you'll likely be greeted with a vast array of products from this skincare giant. Like La Roche Posay, there's a range to target every skin ailment, whether you're a sleep-deprived millenial who needs her overnight products to work twice as hard (try the Idealia Skin Sleep night cream), or you notice dehydration lines creeping in throughout the working day (the Aqualia line is your new skin saviour).
Must buy: Lait-Crème Concentré, £20
Another mainstay on beauty shoots and at catwalk shows, Embryolisse's unassuming packaging belies its status as an all-round wonder product - nixing dryness, plumping the skin and creating a perfectly primed base for smooth make-up application. Once you've got your hands on a tube of the cult Lait-Crème Concentré, you won't look back.
Must buy: Premier Cru Eye Cream, £49
Skincare that uses the antioxidant benefits of red wine? What could be more quintessentially French? Caudalie's products harness the anti-ageing powers of active ingredients like grape-seed Polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) and Reservatrol (found in grapevines) to brighten the complexion and help fade any dark spots or fine lines. We'll drink to that.
Must buy: Oatmilk Gentle Dry Shampoo Spray, £8
A mainstay in hairdressers - and shower cubicles - across France, Klorane's products use pure plant extracts, and have garnered a host of A-list fans. While even the most devoted of dry shampoo users would admit that it isn't exactly the most glamorous bit of kit in their beauty arsenal, but Klorane's natural oatmilk formula bucks the trend - it's subtled scented, won't coat your roots in talc-y residue and leaves hair feeling soft, not helmet-like.
Must buy: Emulsion Cream, around £7
Unlike many of its Gallic counterparts, Biafine is still relatively hard to track down this side of the Channel. It's well worth seeking out in pharmacies or sourcing from abroad, though: initially developed to treat burns, Biafine works like a dream on seriously dry skin and sunburn. The ultimate multi-tasker, it'll also help fade scars and stretch marks
Must buy: Cleanance Mask Scrub, £15
A true beauty hero for those of us who suffer from irritable, sensitive skin, Avène's arsenal of products use thermal water from a spring near Sainte-Odile, which has been home to a restorative spa since 1743. The range combines the age-old benefits of 'eau thermale' with cutting edge skincare research to create effective but soothing formulas that are kind to even the most intolerant of complexions.
It's a truth universally acknowledged that French girls have great hair - effortlessly undone and just the right side of dishevelled. Their secret? Leonor Greyl's luxurious hair care line. Paraben and silicone free, the range of shampoos, conditioners and treatment products (including a classic hair oil and a clutch of dreamy hair masques) strengthens and adds shine, without weighing down the follicles - creating the perfect base for that mussed-up Parisian coiffure.