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  • “What are the best French pharmacy products to know about?”

    Our resident beauty columnist, Ava Welsing-Kitcher, is ready to answer all your questions.

    The French-girl beauty (and fashion) trope has been waxed lyrical about so many times that I’m sure there’s no need to introduce you. But curtain fringes and trench coats aside, the French have always been renowned for their approach to skincare: simple and classic, yet targeted and effective. Anyone who’s visited one of those big Parisian skincare pharmacies knows to expect queues round the block – made up of a mixture of both native and foreign beauty lovers, determined to scour towering shelves of brands that have become household names worldwide. The pharmacy aspect is key here; usually, we’d rely on them to remedy specific issues such as eczema, acne or psoriasis, yet these brands have managed to bridge the gap between the pharmaceutical and the cosmetic. Long before we all became so knowledgeable on active ingredients, the dermatologist-backed French pharmacy brands were the go-to for administering exactly what your skin needed. Read on for the eight skin and body must-haves that I always stock up on.

    By Ava Welsing-Kitcher

    La Roche-Posay

    Toleriane Dermallergo Soothing Cream£18.50

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    Since discovering I had sensitive skin last year, I always make sure I’ve got at least a couple of items from the Toleriane range in my arsenal. When something causes my skin to flare up, I can always count on this soothing cream to set things right – and I’ve recently discovered how delightful the Ultra 8 spray can be at calming angry, red skin (especially when stored in the fridge). The formula uses probiotics to feed the good bacteria on the skin, while reinforcing the disrupted outer-skin barrier instantly with the same proteins that we make naturally in our bodies.

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    Nuxe

    Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil£18.50

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    I haven’t ever been without several bottles of this since I tried my first drop as a beauty intern. The original golden oil is wonderful at instantly nourishing the skin and hair, with a blend of oils including camellia, sweet almond, macadamia and St John’s wort (great for aiding winter dryness and blues), but the Riche formula is especially decadent, as is the shimmering golden edition. Orange blossom, rose, lily and vanilla blend together for such a soft and warming scent, but I also love the pink Florale edition, with grapefruit, magnolia and musk. The mini versions are impossibly cute and easy to travel with.

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    Vichy

    Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster£30

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    Vichy is renowned for its own thermal volcanic mineral water, and this serum has the highest concentration of it yet. Housing 15 minerals in a hyaluronic-acid formula, it both hydrates and protects skin, improving its skin barrier over time. Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in our bodies (it’s what makes our eyeballs so squeezy and bouncy – apologies for the gross mental image!), and helps draw water to wherever it resides. If your climate is damp or humid, it will pull moisture from the air into your skin – but beware if you live in a dry climate, because it will draw water from the deeper layers of your skin, where it’s needed more, right to the surface. Always follow with a moisturiser or cream to seal in moisture.

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    Decléor

    Green Mandarin Glow Night Balm£50

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    For fans of decadent, botanical face oils, this one’s most definitely for you. The entire Green Mandarin range smells incredible, with sharp and sweet lemon, grapefruit and orange essential oils, ensuring you head to bed in an uplifted positive state. Overnight, the oils work on the skin to brighten, while rich beeswax and carnuba wax cocoon skin for the ultimate level of softness.

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    Caudalie

    Milky Sun Spray SPF 50 150ml£22

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    I’ve sung this bottle’s praises so many times, but it’s so deserving of them. I’m currently on my sixth or seventh one, and I still can’t believe it’s not an actual body lotion and has physical SPF in it. The ocean-safe formula is ultra-silky and lightweight, it sinks right in and gives skin a beautiful glow (the partnering Sun Care Oil is amazing for a proper summer sheen), and its intoxicating monoi-type scent is the furthest thing from the typical sunscreen smell. Caudalie as a whole is a total powerhouse when it comes to skin (try the Vinoperfect serum), but the bodycare offerings definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

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    Bioderma

    Hydrabio H2O Reverse Pump 500ml (Limited Edition)£22.50

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    Bioderma’s micellar water was one of the first on our radars, educating us that oil and water could work together to effectively cleanse and remove even the most stubborn waterproof makeup. It also comes in a standard pour bottle, but I love this supersized pump edition that enables you to lay a cotton pad over the circle and simply press down to soak it – it feels cleaner, like it protects the micellar formula from exposure to the air and any bacteria. It’s perfect for sensitive skin and eyes, even when rubbed between lashes to remove every last trace of mascara, and leaves the skin feeling plumped up and hydrated long after it’s dried off.

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    Avène

    Cleanance Cleansing Gel Cleanser for Blemish-Prone Skin 200ml£12.35

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    Avène is also famed for its use of thermal spring water, which is key for this acne-busting cleanser. Rich in soothing, anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to calm blemishes, while a milk-thistle derivative lessens extra sebum, and zinc reverses redness. It’s a seemingly no-frills product, but packs a lot of power in mattifying and clarifying the skin. Either use twice daily during breakouts, or in the evenings if your skin is particularly oily.

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    Embryolisse

    Lait-Crème Concentré Nourishing Moisturiser 75ml£20

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    This one’s a classic favourite of make-up artists (ever since the ’50s) as one of the best formulas for prepping the skin. It’s a 6-in-1: primer, moisturiser, make-up remover, soothing mask, post-shave cream and babycare moisturiser, but I’ve only used it before make-up or long-haul flights. Its ingredients list has a lot of unpronounceable scientific names, but the key ones are paraffin, for softening, and shea butter and beeswax, for cocooning. Apply it on to the face and try your hand at a proper facial massage to really work it in – and behold, glowing, supple skin as a result.

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