Crème de la Mer sounds oh so French, but it’s not, and Estée Lauder wasn’t a Parisienne. A lot of the world’s cosmetic brands try to sound French for a very good reason: the French understand beauty like no one else, and the local industry is perhaps the strongest in the world, investing millions to help women look their best. While a lot of the French brands have done exceedingly well overseas, there are still a few worth looking for in the local pharmacies while shopping in Paris.
A traditional pharmacy brand, Nuxe was purchased by a woman, Aliza Jabès, in 1989. Mme Jabès set out to create one of the first brands in France to feature natural ingredients in sensuous products that are as lovely to use as they are in effect. The Huile Prodigieuse is a dry oil that has taken the local market by storm and seems to be in everyone’s bathroom cupboard. Parisiennes put a bit in their hair to keep it hydrated, wear it on their shoulders for a natural glow and use it as a fast, effective all-in-one beauty aid. The Rêve de Miel lip balm is another product local families can’t seem to live without. Nuxe also has a fantastic day spa in Paris.
Created by a young couple from Bordeaux who saw the potential of the vines that surrounded them, Caudalie was first known for its face cream that used polyphenols from grape seeds. The product was an instant success and can now be found in almost all pharmacies in France, which have a hard time keeping the Premier Cru face cream on the shelves. Caudalie also runs a luxury spa in Bordeaux, les Sources de Caudalie.
The only local luxury brand to be found in pharmacies across the country, Darphin products are on the same playing field as the department store cosmetics, with a price tag that matches. The Prédermine cream is popular, despite the cost, because it actually works, leaving skin full and soft with a lovely texture and an even lovelier fragrance. The brand bases its product line on the benefits of plants, and it seems to be the ultimate blend of science and femininity.
It’s hard to imagine a less attractive name than SVR Laboratories, but it has managed to put science to work, creating excellent and affordable solutions for those who want to look great and protect their skin at the same time. The foundation compact with SPF protection is the ideal product for women who are out and about in the city, giving them a single-application product for the day.
I have friends who swear that Yonka has the best acne skin-care products known to (wo)man. And I believe them, based solely on the quantities of the product they have me ship to them. Yonka is another brand that uses plant-based science to create effective products that are actually a pleasure to put on and spend the day wearing.