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Skin Care Shopping in France
As promised, I’m sharing more about the skin care products that I bought while on vacation in France! I included these items in my vacation haul post, but I also wanted to do a deeper dive on my beauty goodies.
Here’s the full list of beauty products that I bought in France:
- Talika Paris Bio Enzymes Brightening Mask [affiliate link]
- Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré [affiliate link]
- Pure Altitude Eau d’Herbes with Mint and Balm
- Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc Anti-Dryness Shower Gel
- Pure Altitude Sheet Mask with Edelweiss
- Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm [affiliate link]
- Avène Eau Thermale [affiliate link]
- Avène Very High Protection B-Protect SPF 50+
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVmune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+ [affiliate link]
- Pure Altitude NutriAlpes Cream
- Pure Altitude Fleurs de Givre Face Mask
- Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water mini [not pictured above; affiliate link]
Parisian Pharmacy Purchases
Surprisingly, before we left for France it didn’t occur to me to shop for beauty products there. I’m not sure how I didn’t think of it…France is known for pharmacies with a great beauty selection! French pharmacies carry a mixture of mass market brands alongside high end brands such as Skinceuticals and Caudalie. Once we arrived in Paris, I began seeing green plus signs beckoning me inside pharmacies. It was time to take advantage and go shopping!
I only ended up going into one Parisian pharmacy, located just down the Champs-Élysées from our hotel. A lot of French pharmacy brands are available in the US, such as Bioderma, CeraVe, Avène, La Roche-Posay, and Nuxe. But I did see some brands that I’d never heard of before, like Talika Paris, Uriage, Filorga, and Patyka.
Decision fatigue sets in when I have too many choices, so I mostly stuck to browsing familiar brands. However, I did select a Talika Paris Brightening Sheet Mask—a new-to-me brand. And I got the cult favorite Nuxe lip balm that I’ve somehow never tried. I also bought a mini Bioderma micellar water; I knew I’d run out of my Garnier micellar mini before the end of our trip.
I have yet to try the sheet mask but plan to soon. And I’m waiting to open the Nuxe because I want to empty my Fresh Lip Mask first.
A Local Alpine Brand
Our first morning in Megève, I went out to grab breakfast from a patisserie. On the way, I noticed a shop called Pure Altitude and went over to peek in the windows. I learned that it was a spa shop selling its own line of products containing alpine ingredients. You better believe I hit the store up as soon as it opened! The shop basically made money off of me the second I saw that it carried local skin care.
Pure Altitude is a spa skin care line created by Jocelyn Sibuet, founder of a luxury hotel in Megève called Les Fermes de Marie. Made in France, the spa product line is centered around the protective benefits of edelweiss. This alpine flower is not just the name of a song from The Sound of Music; it’s a hardy plant that can withstand and even thrive in extreme conditions.
The woman working in the shop helped me pick out a cream for wintertime. They had products testers out, so I compared the Edelweiss Cream with the NutriAlpes Cream and settled on the latter for its richer formula. I thought it would be better as a winter nighttime moisturizer. For funsies, I also bought a mist and a sheet mask. And the clerk kindly threw in a travel-sized tube of their Alpine Milk Cleanser.
I kept my eyes peeled for a wash-off mask but the brand’s shop didn’t have any that I was interested in. After completing my purchase, I went to the pharmacy in the main square. While browsing, I found that the pharmacy also carried Pure Altitude. So I picked up the Fleurs de Givre Face Mask, a soothing and repairing mask containing wild pansy and mallow. I’m so excited to try my Pure Altitude products this winter!
At the pharmacy in Megève, I spotted a brand I’d never seen before called Saint Gervais Mont-Blanc, so I started browsing the selection. When I saw this Anti-Dryness Shower Gel I decided to purchase a bottle. My body skin is pretty sensitive and gets quite dry in the winter, so I thought this would be a good product to try.
This shower gel contains thermal waters from Saint Gervais Les Bains, another village in the Mont Blanc region, which we drove through on the way to Chamonix from Megève. The village is known for its mineral-rich thermal baths, and this brand’s products contain thermal spring water from the area.
John and I both tried the shower gel for a couple of days and liked it, so I ended up buying two more bottles from pharmacies in Chamonix. I’m currently about a quarter of a way through the first bottle and am still enjoying it.
Speaking of thermal water, I also bought a small bottle of Avène Eau Thermale, a thermal spring water with a very fine mist. The brand is named for a more southern French village also known for its thermal water. I’m pretty sure I’ve used this widely available mist before, but I figured when in France, I might as well pick one up.
From my basic understanding, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies sunscreen as a drug, while the European Union considers sunscreens to be cosmetics. The FDA requires rigorous testing before it approves products and ingredients classified as drugs. For that reason—and probably many others—the FDA is slow to approve new SPF filters. Due to the less-stringent regulations regarding cosmetics, the EU allows newer UV filters in sunscreens that the FDA does not currently accept. So, many European sunscreens are not available in the US, at least not in brick-and-mortar stores (though you can order some online).
Once we got to Chamonix, I began researching EU sunscreens so I could buy a couple to bring home with me. One of the SPF filters that EU brands can use in their sunscreens is Mexoryl, a chemical SPF that La Roche-Posay includes in its Anthelios UVMUNE 400 50+ Invisible Fluid. This sunscreen kept coming up on recommendation lists. When I went to pharmacies it became clear that this is a popular sunscreen, because I only saw it at a couple places. So I snagged a bottle as soon as I saw one (and got one for a friend too).
At 50 mL the bottle is pretty small, and if I remember correctly it cost around 20 Euros. So it’s a little more than $20 USD. Not luxury pricing, but it’s not what I’d call super affordable for the amount you get.
I also saw good reviews of Avène Very High Protection B-Protect SPF 50+ so I bought a tube of that as well. It apparently comes out white but blends into a tint that matches your skin tone. I’m always a little skeptical that tints will actually blend into all skin tones, but I’m curious and willing to give it a shot.
The Avène SPF is another chemical sunscreen; it contains four active SPF ingredients: Tinosorb M, Tinosorb S, Uvasorb HEB and Avobenzone. The latter ingredient is the only one that the FDA currently accepts. This Avène SPF comes in a 30 mL tube, and I want to say it cost a couple Euros less than the LRP sunscreen. Still a little pricey for the amount, but hopefully it’ll be worth it!
Upon searching my blog archives, I discovered that I first tried Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré thanks to Birchbox (RIP) all the way back in October 2016. I ended up liking it enough to buy a small tube way back when. It’s literally been years since I last used this cult favorite, but while in France I decided to hunt it down. Embryolisse was strangely elusive in the French pharmacy scene; I searched for it in several pharmacies before I found one in Chamonix that carried the brand.
I purchased a 75 mL tube (2.54 ounces) rather than the 1 ounce tube. I can’t remember exactly how much this cream cost me, but I believe it was between 26 and 28 Euros. The brand sells the larger tube for $29 USD on its website, so that seems about right.
The brand has gone through a redesign, but this cream still comes in an aluminum tube. We all know that plastic is terrible for the planet, but I think aluminum tubes can be very annoying. If you squeeze them in the wrong spot, the internal pressure causes the product to keep coming out. They can get messy, and I hate messes. I suppose a glass jar would be best in terms of sustainability, but tubes keep product fresher for longer because it’s exposed to much less air. Basically, there’s no winning when trying to create a sustainable product.
Au Revoir, France!
Anyway…I think I’m finally finished blogging about our vacation. We’ve been home for three weeks and I feel like I’m still basking in the Alpine glow of it all. It’s hard to let go, but at least I have tons of photos and wonderful memories! As always, thanks for reading.