The 10 Best French Pharmacy Products to Snag on Your Next Vacation

Or buy on Amazon.

September 26, 2018

I am a sucker for anything that's favored by a "French Girl." And why wouldn't I be? She is (reportedly) effortlessly chic, eats pain au chocolate for breakfast, and can pull off a classic red lip on even the most casual of occasions. So when it comes to her go-to products—be it a striped sailor t-shirt or timeless dinnerware—I'll have what she's having. Yes, I know that this mythical "French Girl" and her favorite things are mostly marketing an ingenious scheme to take all my money, but if there's one thing the French actually do best, it's pharmacies.

Yes, pharmacies. These magical places, often denoted by a lit-up green cross, are stocked with French skincare and cosmetics—beloved for their simplicity, gentleness, and time-tested formulas—plus, you know, actual medicine. The first time I visited Paris, my mother forced my father and me inside every time we passed one, leaving with at least two bags' worth of you-can-only-get-it-in-France products. (I found it annoying then, but do the same thing today.) Thankfully, you no longer need a passport to stock up—a number of these products are available in drugstores throughout the States, and more conveniently, on Amazon.

Because I know I can't be the only one stuffing my suitcase with French pharmacy hauls, I asked the Food52 team to name their favorites. Here's what they had to say:

Photo by Bioderma; Nuxe

1. Caudalie Lip Conditioner

Director of Brand Activation Eunice Choi has been a fan of this lip conditioner, which is rich in antioxidants and moisturizing active ingredients, for years. Although it's now available on Amazon, "I loved how easy it was to find in France," she says.

2. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil

"I love grabbing this while I'm traveling, because it's tiny and has so many uses—it's oil you can use on your body or face, and I've even used it in the ends of my hair," says Ella Quittner, a food writer and recipe developer. "It smells the best!

3. Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

I first discovered Bioderma's micellar cleansing water on a trip to Paris a few years ago and haven't looked back. It's a supremely gentle way to remove makeup from my skin, and I substitute it for washing my face when I'm feeling especially lazy. It used to be tough to find in America, but thanks to its popularity, is now available on Amazon and in many drugstores.

4. Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

Quittner also swears by this dry shampoo from Klorane, which goes in her suitcase every time she takes a trip. "I always need this when traveling," she says.

5. La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Moisturizer with Sunscreen

I have finicky combination skin—a mix of dry and oily—so it was always tough to find a face cream that not only moisturized my skin without being greasy, but also had good sun protection. This moisturizer from La Roche-Posay (you can find their whole suite of products on Amazon) does just that, and I keep buying it again and again.

6. Marvis Ginger Mint Toothpaste

Angela Tribelli, Food52's chief marketing officer, always picks up Marvis toothpaste when traveling through France. "It's made in Florence, but every French pharmacy seems to stock it," she says. "Ginger mint is my favorite!"

7. Vichy Pureté Thermale Soothing Eye Makeup Remover

"Vichy's eye makeup remover is the BEST," says Senior Lifestyle Editor Hana Asbrink. "I bought it years back when it came in a blue bottle, but now it's in a green one (still good) and sold at drugstores in NY, as well as online."

8. Le Petit Marseillais Lait Body Wash

I love the creamy, soothing formula of this simple French body wash—it always leaves my skin feeling soft, and never irritated. My mom likes to order this one on Amazon and keep a bottle in our guest bathroom.

Photo by Klorane; Marvis

9. Embryolisse Concentrated Lait Cream

"I am obsessed with this," says Quittner. "My little sister turned me on to it when she was living in Paris and I used to make her bring me multiple bottles every time she came back to the U.S. We were both very relieved when it became available on Amazon."

10. Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water

Whether I'm getting off a long flight or a sweaty subway, I love to spritz my face with this thermal spring water. It's a bit pricey (at least it's Amazon Prime!), but it's a luxury I just can't afford to live without.

Another French Favorite

Do you have a favorite French pharmacy product? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Caitlin Gunther
    Caitlin Gunther
  • Devi
  • A
  • Kayley Nammari
    Kayley Nammari
  • Erin Alexander
    Erin Alexander
Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.


Caitlin G. March 21, 2019
This article read my mind. I spend a ridiculous amount of time wandering around Parisian pharmacies, and trying to explain to the very helpful pharmacists: just browsing. I recently discovered cleansing water, too !
Devi October 17, 2018
Biafine and homeoplasmine! Fundamental.
A September 27, 2018
It seems that you are even more obsessed with Amazon!
Erin A. September 27, 2018
You are so right!
Kayley N. September 26, 2018
Nuxe makes the best lip balm ever: Rive de Miel. It's pricey in the States but in Paris, it was something like 5 Euro. Cattier makes these amazing clay masks that are stupid cheap (think 3 Euro). I buy several of each kind and hand them out as gifts when I get back from my trip.
Ella Q. September 27, 2018
Agreed about the Nuxe lip balm! I love all of their products. I also got a little perfume sample from them last time I bought oil and it smelled amazing (just like the oil, but in perfume form)!