Pharmacies are France’s Best Kept Beauty Secret

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but as an American in Paris, I spend a lot of time contemplating the beautiful aesthetics of this city.  Yes, the architecture is beautiful, but so are the people! I sometimes feel  frumpy compared to the wonderfully coiffed  and flawlessly made up women.  How do they do it? How do they always manage to look so glowy with perfectly shiny hair? Is there something in the water here?  I asked one of my American friends who has lived here for decades how the French women do it. What is their secret? How do they achieve their perfect complexions?  Her answer: the pharmacies.

Now, if you haven’t lived in France for long I’m sure an image of a CVS or Walgreens pops into your head! Erase that image! Firstly, French pharmacies are all identical in that they have a big, flashing green cross to indicate pharmacie.  You can spot one from a mile away and even in the heaviest of Parisian downpours.  Secondly, pharmacies are all individually owned and run, whereas in the U.S. we have huge pharmaceutical chains.

So, logistically, how are French pharmacies different than those in America?  Firstly, pharmacies are virtually the only place you can go to pick up your prescriptions and over the counter meds.  You cannot pick up over the counter medication in, say, a supermarket.  However, what’s super convenient about French pharmacies is that if you ever come down with a cold etc, the pharmacie can prescribe you some medication on the spot.  This is great because it saves you a trip to the doctor if your ailment isn’t particularly serious.  The pharmacists go to school for 6-7 (nearly as long as American doctors!), so they know what they’re talking about!

But getting back to the flawless French women….the pharmacies are their secret weapons for reasons other than medication.  Pharmacies sell the best and most effective beauty products at reasonable prices.  Models and celebrities alike stock up on beauty supplies at the pharmacies when they’re in town.  Even Gwyneth Paltrow has a list of her favorite pharmacie products that she hoards when coming to France.  The beauty products in the pharmacies are known for their highly effective formulas and use of hydrating thermal water.  What could be better than that? Other than they fact that the prices aren’t terribly outrageous either!

In order to feed your newfound (or deeply developed) pharmacie addiction, Sasha and I have compiled the list of our favorite products.  First up: La Roche Posay Effaclar face wash.  There is not more important beauty staple for a woman than a reliable face wash.  What’s great about this one is that it is perfect for all skin types, and it clears up all blemishes and imperfections.    Also amazing in keeping imperfections at bay is Avene’s Eau Thermals which is thermal spring water spray that treats any problem areas.  Looking for a dual makeup remover than also moonlights as a cleanser? Try Bioderma’s makeup remover, which isn’t only in the slightest, and works to gently take of all your makeup after a long night out.

As they say, prevention is the best way to keep wrinkles and fine lines to a minimum.  The best way to do this is to moisturize! If you suffer from dry, dehydrated skin, Caudalie Vinosource Serum is amazing at combatting dryness in the winter months as it protects and soothes skin.  To prevent cracked and exema affected hands, try Nuxe Reve de Miel cream which leaves a protective but non-greasy layer of moisture.  For hydrated lips, Nuxe also carries a Reve de Miel lipbalm which sinks in slowly but effectively.  Lips are smoother and more nourished as a result, and the finish is matte, so no crazy shiny lips to deal with if you prefer a subtler lipbalm approach.

What about hair? I always envied the women with those thick luscious manes, but it didn’t take me long to realize that Kerastase was changing bad hair days ‘round the world!  The Kerastase products aren’t cheap, but they work wonders to lock in moisture and protect from breakage and split ends.  One of my favorite products from their line is the Bain Nutri-Thermique hair masque which leaves my hair silky and tangle free every time! Hello Rapunzel hair, where have you been all of my life?! Apparently just bottled up in the titan that is Kerastase….  If you’re in a rush or giving your hair a break from shampooing, Klorance Dry Shampoo goes a long way in covering up greasy unwashed strands.  Karl Lagerfeld even swears by this stuff! Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel. Yeah, no big deal.

The pharmacies also supply an array of vitamins, immune boosters, weight loss pills, and dietary snacks to get your internal health tweaked to perfection.  Simply walk in to a pharmacie and ask for advice about any of the cosmetic or dietary improvements you’re looking to make, and the pharmacists are always exceptionally knowledgeable and willing to assist.

Tell us: what are your pharmacie products of choice? Which ones can’t you live without?

Below, we’ve included some of the most well stocked pharmacies in Paris, all of which are open later or 24hrs a day:

Pharmacie Les Champs Dhéry
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
84, Ave. des Champs-Elysées; Galeries des Champs-Elysées
8th arrondissement
Metro: George V
Tel: 33(0)1 45 62 02 41
Pharmacie des HallesOpen Mon.-Sat. until midnight; Sundays until 10 p.m.
10 Boulevard de Sebastopol
3rd arrondissement
Metro: Chatelet or Les Halles
Tel: 33(0)1 42 72 03 23
Pharmacie du Drugstore des Champs-Elysées
Open 7 days a week until 2:00 a.m.
133 Avenue des Champs-Élysées
8th arrondissement
Metro/RER: Charles de Gaulle Etoile
Tel: 33(0)1 47 20 39 25
Grande Pharmacie de la Nation
Open every day, 7 a.m.-12 a.m.
13, place de la Nation
11th arrondissement
Metro/RER: Nation
Tel: 33(0)1 43 73 24 03
Pharmacie du Village
Open Mon.-Sat., 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.- 8 p.m.
26 Rue du Temple
4th arrondissement
Metro: Hotel de Ville
Tel: 33(0)1 42 72 60 71
Pharmacie des Arts
Open Mon.-Sat., 9:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m. Closed Sundays.
106 Blvd. Montparnasse
14th arrondissement
Metro: Vavin
Tel: 33(0)1 43 35 44 88
Pharmacie Centrale
Open 7 days a week, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.
52 Rue du Commerce
15th arrondissement
Metro: Avenue Emile Zola
Tel: 33(0)1 45 79 75 01
Pharmacie d’Italie
Open 7 days a week, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.
61 Avenue d’Italie
13th arrondissement
Metro: Tolbiac
Tel: 33(0)1 44 24 19 72


  1. Adrienne Barbeau

  2. Good to know that there are stores in which you can buy French beauty secrets products. This is so interesting and a lot of people will be glad to know about it. Thanks for sharing this article to us. Looking forward for more posts like this.

  3. Nice article dude 🙂

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