When I first started at Escentual, French Pharmacy was fairly new to me. So throughout 2020, I went on a personal French Pharmacy journey – and it didn’t take long to find out what some of the stars of the show are (and treat myself to some!)
Now I know it’s easy to be tempted by the latest launches, but there are a number of absolute icons that deserve a mention. If you’re a fan of French Pharmacy, you might know for yourself why the items in this edit are hailed as icons. But don’t worry if you’re late to the party, I’ve summed up some staples so you know where to start…
1. The Must-Have Cleanser for Tots
Product Pick: Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel for Normal Skin
Who Will Love It? Both parents and tots will love Mustela’s face, hair and body wash, thanks to it’s easy-to-use, tear-free formula. It’s even suitable from birth onwards.
Why It’s Iconic? Mustela’s lathering cleansing gel respects the natural balance of baby’s skin. But it goes a step further to moisturise, soften and soothe skin from top to bottom – it even helps protect against the natural drying effects of bath-time.
The star ingredient is Avocado Perseose®; Mustela are so passionate about caring for tots that they’ve gone to the effort of patenting this ingredient, which helps to strengthen and reinforce the skin’s natural barrier (that’s the thing that helps keep skin healthy and hydrated). And let’s not forget Mustela’s subtle, signature scent!
2. The Water Spray For Everyone
Product Pick: Uriage Eau Thermale Water Spray
Who Will Love It? This water spray is, quite literally, suitable for everyone! No matter your age, skin type or skin condition, this spray is for you.
Why It’s Iconic? You might be surprised to learn that this cult water is just that; water. But it’s packed with trace elements and mineral salts to soothe, hydrate and restore skin. You might be wondering – how does the water become enriched with these elements? As the water passes through rocks in the heart of the French Alps – it doesn’t get more French Pharmacy than that – the water is enriched with powerhouse natural minerals and trace elements.
This 100% pure and natural water is the most active thermal water on the market; it’s so good that you’ll find it in a number of Uriage’s skincare products. But what is it good for? I use it every day to hydrate my complexion, refresh my skin after exercising (not that I do that every day…) and to cool flare-ups. But, you can also use it to comfort irritated skin, sunburn and more.
3. The Face Cream For Sensitive Skin
Product Pick: Avene Rich Skin Recovery Cream
Who Will Love It? Anyone with sensitive and hypersensitive complexions.
Why It’s Iconic? Anyone who has sensitive skin will know that finding that perfect cream for you cannot not only be a huge relief but also feel like a life-saver. As someone who has suffered from only the occasional flare-up on my arms and neck through stress, I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who has daily skin sensitivity.
Avene’ Skin Recovery Cream is, for many, the life-saver they’ve been looking for. It contains Parcerine, which has been designed to act against irritation and calm the skin. The fragrance-free, paraben-free face cream acts as a barrier against external factors, and it’s even infused with Avene’s iconic Thermal Spring Water to soothe and soften skin while reducing reactivity.
4. The Hair-Strengthening Shampoo
Product Pick: Klorane Quinine & B Vitamins Shampoo
Who Will Love it? Anyone who is suffering from hair thinning or fine, tired hair that needs a pick-me-up.
Why It’s Iconic? Made in France using carefully selected botanical ingredients, Klorane’s shampoo helps restore strength and vigour to hair. While of course cleansing your locks, the shampoo also helps detangle and fortify tresses; it can even be used alongside hair loss treatment.
Of course, it’s Klorane, so plants are at the heart of the formula; Klorane has selected Cinchona, a tree native to South America that’s known for its quinine-rich bark. The bark is harvested by hand and concentrated into a patented extract, so there’s nothing quite like it.
5. The Intensive Hand Cream
Product Pick: Eucerin UreaRepair Plus 5% Urea Hand Cream
Who Will Love It? Those with dry or rough hands that need a bit of TLC, including those with xerosis, psoriasis and mature skin.
Why It’s Iconic? I’m sure you’re familiar with the hand creams that you really only buy for the scent, or the ones that leave a sticky, greasy finish. Well forget those; the UreaRepair Plus 5% Urea Hand Cream takes things to the next level.
Eucerin’s non-greasy hand cream is perfect for very dry hands; it’s clinically proven to deliver instant relief and intense moisture – it even helps to defend against skin dryness for up to 48 hours. One of the things I love the most about this quick-absorbing formula? It continues to hydrate skin even after repeated hand-washing. Plus, it’s packed with a boost of ultra-hydrating substances that are found naturally in skin.
6. The Skincare Solution For Acne
Product Pick: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+]
Who Will Love It? Adults and teens with oily and acne-prone complexions.
Why It’s Iconic? There’s a reason why this is an award-winner. This anti-blemish gel moisturiser corrects and hydrates skin, but is also designed to target the common concerns associated with oily skin; think blemishes, blackheads, shine and even post-blemish marks.
Although it’s packed with a range of powerful anti-spot ingredients – like spot-reducing niacinamide and pore-unclogging salicylic acid – La Roche-Posay’s formula stands out because of it’s minimal, hypoallergenic formula. It’s designed for sensitive skin and has undergone rigorous dermatological testing to ensure it’s safe for even the most sensitive complexions.
7. The Makeup Bag Must-Have
Product Pick: Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré
Who Will Love It? Makeup artists, makeup artist-wannabes, skincare enthusiasts, sensitive skin suffers, this one’s for you. It’s the ultimate multitasker.
Why It’s Iconic? Lait-Crème Concentré is a rich, silky moisturising lotion, but it’s also so much more than that. Makeup artists use it as a primer, moisturiser and even a makeup remover. It’s been loved by dermatologists for decades as it ensures the skin has a healthy balance of nutrients and water, and even accelerates cell renewal.
Suitable for all skin types, the face cream moisturises, nourishes and repairs skin – and trust me, you’ll love the soft, smooth, plump and radiant finish after you apply it. As a top tip, apply a thin layer as a makeup primer for a gorgeous dewy base, or layer up for a pampering overnight mask.
Product Pick: Bioderma Sensibio H2O
Who Will Love It? Anyone with normal to combination skin that might be prone to irritation and redness.
Why It’s Iconic? If I had to name a few products that fly off the shelves in our warehouse, this makes the list; and for good reason. It’s the dream makeup remover for anyone who wants instant, effective cleansing without having to waste time with water, flannels and towels. Driven by micellar technology, this French-made award-winning micellar water sweeps away 99% of makeup from the face and eyes while also helping to remove pollution particles and daily impurities.
The no-rinse, fragrance-free cleanser also cares for your skin by helping to prevent the risk of skin reaction, preserving the skin’s natural balance and soothing the complexion. It’s a makeup remover and so much more.
9. The Luxurious Skin-Quenching Serum
Product Pick: Decleor Neroli Bigarade Aromessence Essential Oils Serum
Who Will Love It? Anyone with dehydrated skin who wants to introduce a touch of French luxury into their skincare routine.
Why It’s Iconic? If you’re new to Decleor, the first you need to know is that they’re powered by essential oils, and the Neroli Bigarade serum is a perfect example of why so many have fallen for the charms of Decleor. This 100% natural pre-moisturising serum is packed with only the finest essential oils and a botanical oil – all without colourants or mineral oils.
Like little drops of sunshine, the yellow-hued oil offers skin an intense hit of hydration to reveal a beautiful glowy radiance. But don’t be put off by the world ‘oil’; the serum has a silky, non-sticky feel that melts in when applied and ‘tapped’ into the complexion. And as a bonus, the serum offers protection from pollution and external aggressors.
10. The Anti-Ageing Serum For Thinning Hair
Product Pick: Phyto Phytocyane Thinning Hair Treatment for Women
Who Will Love It? Women who struggle with hair thinning and density – whether it’s caused by stress, fatigue, diet or pregnancy.
Why It’s Iconic? Although when we think of hair care, a lot of us instantly think of shampoos, conditioners and stylers, Phyto has also gained a cult following due to its thinning hair treatments. This triple-action serum supports fuller, thicker hair as it grows (and as a bonus, it even offers anti-ageing benefits!)
It helps to create an optimal environment for healthy hair growth, improve thickness and enhance shine. Thought it couldn’t get any better than that? Well, when used all-year-round, the serum helps to keep grey at bay.
11. The Anti-Blemish Cream That’s Been Loved For Decades
Product Pick: PAYOT Pâte Grise L’Originale Purifying Care
Who Will Love It? Anyone who suffers from breakouts, no matter your skin type.
Why It’s Iconic? PAYOT’s Pâte Grise formula is the emergency treatment for spots. Loved for over 70 years, Pâte Grise L’Originale is designed for the moments when you sense a minor spot emerging and want to speed up the process to go back to having clearer, comfortable skin sooner (it’s a hero for the days leading up to an event).
Using a secret formula created by Dr Payot over seven decades ago, the targeted spot cream works by bringing small blemishes to a maturation phase, so they can disappear more quickly! Plus, it helps to soothe skin using sweet almond, control excess sebum with shale extracts – and zinc oxide offers additional sebum-soaking and skin-soothing benefits.
12. The Daily Protective Serum
Product Pick: Vichy Mineral 89 Serum
Who Will Love It? Any complexion – including sensitive complexions – that needs a boost of hydration.
Why It’s Iconic? Vichy’s hypoallergenic Mineral 89 serum rehydrates and protects the delicate skin barrier. But what makes it stand out? This ultra-hydrating serum is enriched with Vichy’s highest concentration of 89% Vichy Thermal Mineralising Water. Paired with hyaluronic acid, the mineralising water laces the gel serum to leave you with a strong, plump and deeply quenched complexion. For an extra bonus, the hypoallergenic serum also helps to protect against the impact of daily aggressors, such as pollution.