Skip to main contentSkip to footer

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Read our full commerce guidelines here.

Sign up to HELLO! Fashion for style tips, cultural insights, must-have items, and more

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

Not a short while ago, a trip across the Channel meant one thing and one thing only. Okay, three. A holy trinity of French blisses: wine, cheese and baguettes.

But for bona fide beauty addicts? The true marker of the promised land was an illuminated green cross.

Perusing the aisles of the quintessential French pharmacy, you'll recognise a fair few of the brand names – Vichy, Avène, La Roche-Posay and the like – especially now that so many of them are widely available in the UK.

What these established, research-driven labels offer, in my opinion, is affordable efficacy. So many of the products are developed by dermatologists, carefully formulated with sensitive skin in mind. While the packaging isn't wildy sexy (although I personally find the neat, white, clinical look rather smartly satisfying), the products are hardworking and deeply dependable.

How we chose:

  • Performance and personal testimony: The buys chosen below are products that I (Hello! Fashion's resident beauty obsessive Orin Carlin) personally really rate. 
  • Brand: After scrupulously testing a wide range of French pharmacy products over the course of my career as a beauty journalist, I have picked out the highly effective formulas that you need on your radar.

Hello! Fashion shares the best French pharmacy products to slot into your beauty routine:

  1. 1/10

    Best French Pharmacy Products

    Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

    Huile Prodigieuse Or


    Key ingredients:

    • Vitamin E
    • Sweet almond oil
    • Macadamia oil
    • Hazelnut oil



    Beautifully fragrant and comforting, Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse, a multipurpose dry oil, is a holiday in a bottle. It is luxurious, well beyond its modest price point, providing a silky, non-greasy lustre to shins, collarbones and even the ends of the hair. I've chosen the shimmer-infused (it's subtle, before you balk at the thought of 'body glitter') version as it's utterly gorgeous smoothed into the décolletage for summer, especially if you're wearing either a plunging or Bardot neckline.

  2. 2/10

    La Roche-Posay Invisible Fluid

    Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50

    La Roche-Posay

    Key ingredients:

    • Mexoryl 400
    • Glycerin
    • SPF 50+



    Not all SPFs are created equal, but La Roche-Posay's Anthelios range is excellent across the board. I personally rate the Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid - the texture is almost feather-light and it dries really quickly, sitting seamlessly under makeup. I also find I can apply it around my eye area with minimal fuss - some other SPFs can make my eyes water whereas this one is comfortingly inoffensive. 

  3. 3/10

    Caudalie Beauty Elixir

    Beauty Elixir


    Key ingredients:

    • Green grape
    • Rose essential oil
    • Rosemary essential oil
    • Lemon balm essential oil



    The Bordeaux-born brand specialises in vinotherapy, harnessing the power of the grape and using the extracts to create spa-worthy skincare. My deep affinity for Caudalie's 'Eau de Beauté', as the product is more glamorously known in France, began in the ever-tempting Space NK queue. In essence, it's a mist. The scent is botanical and invigorating, lovely for flights and warm weather. My only gripe? The original packaging was infinitely chicer than the new, modern design.

  4. 4/10

    La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm

    Cicaplast Balm B5 Multi-Purpose Repairing Balm

    La Roche-Posay

    Key ingredients:

    • Tribioma (a unique prebiotic complex combined with 5% of vitamin B5 and madecassoside)
    • Antibacterial agents, including zinc and manganese



    In the event of any minor skin emergencies - bee stings, irritation, sunburn - a multi-use soothing balm is so handy. La Roche-Posay's Cicaplast fits the bill perfectly, providing creamy comfort to "uncomfortable, damaged, or irritated skin" and encouraging speedy repair. If it's not already in my travel beauty arsenal, rest assured, I'll be rectifying the situation at the nearest chemist.

  5. 5/10

    Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Moisturiser

    Lait-Crème Concentré


    Key ingredients:

    • Aloe vera
    • Shea butter 



    Another hero multi-tasker comes in the form of Embryolisse's Lait-Crème Concentré. It was originally formulated in the 1950s by a dermatologist, with the aim of delivering "essential nutrients to the skin". Makeup artists cottoned onto it, using it to nourish the tired complexions of actresses and models. I personally like it for a pared down makeup day when my skin is feeling dry - I wouldn't use it as my everyday base as it's quite rich.

  6. 6/10

    Institut Esthederm Photo Regul Facial Sunscreen

    Photo Regul Facial Sunscreen

    Institut Esthederm

    Key ingredients:

    • Cellular water patent to optimise skin cells' energy
    • Global cellular protection patent to defend against photo-ageing



    Rooted in research, Institut Esthederm is one of the leading French suncare brands. The product range is so vast, almost to the point of it being overwhelming, that there's essentially a bespoke SPF to suit each and everyone's skin concerns. I like my natural freckles, but otherwise, I want an even tan, not to acquire patches of pigmentation - the Photo Regul Facial Sunscreen was my go-to all summer last year.

  7. 7/10

    Bioderma Makeup Remover

    Sensibio Micellar Water


    Key ingredients:

    • Micelles (invisible cleansing micro-droplets)
    • Highly purified and pharmaceutical-grade water
    • Cucumber extract 



    This makeup remover was the height of sophistication back in the early 2010s, a firm fixture in the quintessential beauty YouTuber's bathroom cabinet. It's hyper-gentle, including in the eye area, and the micelle technology works a treat, swiftly shifting all traces of makeup. Simply follow up with a gel or milk cleanser to balance your skin before completing the rest of your nightly skincare routine.

  8. 8/10

    Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray

    Thermal Spring Water Spray


    Key ingredients:

    • Thermal spring water 



    French pharmacy brands are renowned for their hydrating mists, sourced from the country's thermal springs. Avène's version, derived from dolomite rocks located in the Haut-Languedoc Regional Natural Park, is my constant flight companion. It provides a hit of coolness, flooding the skin with moisture and restoring hydration levels.

  9. 9/10

    After Sun Tan Enhancing Body Lotion

    Tan Prolonging Body Lotion

    Institut Esthederm

    Key ingredients:

    • Cellular water patent to optimise skin cells' energy
    • Global cellular protection patent to defend against photo-ageing
    • Adaptasun technology to stimulate melanin production for a deeper, longer-lasting tan



    I've been trialling Institut Esthederm's Tan Prolonging Body Lotion in place of my usual all-over moisturiser recently, and I'm really into it. After coming back from my holiday, I'm desperate to cling onto that bronzy glow before I dip back into my fake tan stash, and this is just the ticket. It absorbs quickly, makes my skin feel satiated without leaving any greasy residue and has a pleasant, lightweight, fluid texture.  

  10. 10/10

    Leonor Greyl shampoo

    Shampooing Crème Moelle de Bambou

    Leonor Greyl

    Key ingredients:

    • Bambou shoot extract
    • Garlic extract
    • Wheat protein extract



    Leonor Greyl is a relatively recent haircare brand discovery for me, but I'm totally hooked by the Shampooing Crème Moelle de Bambou. Formulated specifically for long, dry, thick and frizzy types (guilty as charged, on all counts), it's a great detangler, making the rest of my haircare routine much smoother, literally. The scent - less important than performance, but always one of my considerations - is intoxicating and prettily powdery. Obsessed. 

Why you should trust me: 

Orin Carlin is Hello! Fashion’s SEO Content Writer. Promising to leave no stone unturned in the name of fashion and beauty journalism, she is the proud creator of our ‘Try The Trend’ series. With a particular interest in formula innovation, microtrends, royal and bridal beauty, perfume, rituals, treatments, fashion history and vintage icons, she can either be found interviewing major industry names (previous subjects include Georgia May Jagger, Mary Greenwell and Sam McKnight) or scouring the internet for must-have pieces. It's not just a job; it's a personal quest to unearth noteworthy pieces that resonate with style and beauty enthusiasts.

HELLO!'s selection is editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items our editors love and approve of. HELLO! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. To find out more visit our FAQ page.