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