When it comes to knowledge about beauty and skincare, French women often have a far greater understanding than British women. This is partly because there is a greater emphasis on skin education for skin health across France but also because that advice and knowledge is easily accessible - at French pharmacies. French pharmacy products are highly regarded and there is a tradition in France to approach pharmacists for skincare advice. So what can you learn from the French pharmacy when it comes to choosing skin care products for your ageing skin?
Inside a French pharmacy
If you have never stepped inside to a French pharmacy, the idea of it being a place of skincare expertise may sound strange. Although many of our larger pharmacies in the UK stock beauty and skincare products, and in some cases do have skin therapists in concessions, it isn’t the place of choice for advice. We are far more likely to seek the advice of a skincare therapist at a dedicated salon or spa.
In France, however, women can get really good advice about skincare from neighbourhood pharmacies. This is a long standing tradition that began many years ago when French women did not go to the spa for beauty products, and French doctors did not have their own skincare lines, so the pharmacies were the go to expert. Pharmacists continue to be highly trained and able to recommend specific products from a wide range of different brands for different budgets.
Pharmacies in France range from small neighborhood stores to really large stores in cities. All still stock a wide range of skincare products. Companies such as Payot paris are still sold in French pharmacies. Payot was established by Nadia Payot, one of France’s first female doctors, who went on to establish the first beauty school in France in 1949. Payot is founded on the principle of high quality skin care products that are based in pharmaceutical research. Every ingredient is tried and tested to ensure the perfect combination for the best results for your skin concerns.
So, what advice would you be given in a French pharmacy for your skin? What products are French women encouraged to invest in for a skincare routine that will help treat ageing skin?
Six skincare products ageing French women choose to buy at French pharmacies
When it comes to understanding a routine for healthy and young looking skin, there are some skin care products French women are taught from an early age to include in a daily routine. This level of skin education benefits them as they age - having a comprehensive skincare routine from a younger age will help to prevent against prematurely ageing skin.
Here are six items French women will reach for at the pharmacy - and why.
1. Micellar water
Parisian women had long noted the effects of the region’s harsh water on their skin. So, in the 1990s, a number of French skincare brands formulated a special cleansing water that could be used to clean the skin without the need for water.
What is micellar water?
Micellar water may look like normal water but it is actually purified water, with hydrating ingredients (often glycerin) and a low concentration of mild surfactants (the stuff that cleanses your skin). This makes it a really mild but effective cleanser for all skin types.
How do I use it?
You can soak a cotton pad or ball with micellar water and then use to clean your face. You don’t need to add water or rinse afterwards.
Does it work?
Absolutely! Its surfactants act like magnets for oil, dirt and even waterproof makeup but at the same time it’s really hydrating and gentle on the skin. That’s why French women love using it. When it comes to cleansing and French women, Clemence von Mueffling, in her book Ageless Beauty, explains:
“Good hygiene does not mean burning your skin. It means respecting it. So you need to clean your skin thoroughly at night, while respecting the flora of your skin.”
Micellar water is very much a first cleanse, to be followed with a second cleanse to address your specific skin concerns.
Eau Micellaire Expressmake up removerSkincare200ml: £6.00
Payot Eau Micellaire Expressis a hydrating, protecting and gentle micellar water, packed full of active ingredients, chosen for their benefits for ageing skin health. It has:
Hyaluronic acid - known for its hydrating properties, this ingredient holds up to a thousand times its weight in water and has molecules small enough to penetrate deep into the skin’s layers to lock in moisture.
Sodium citrate - a form of Vitamin C that is known for its skin brightening properties.
Raspberry - which has a high concentration of vitamin C, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, it is also a natural astringent and works to tone and tighten the skin after cleansing.
Hydrogenated Castor Oil - this is a natural emollient - cleansing without drying out the skin.
When it comes to cleansing, Clemence von Mueffling explains that:
“French mothers teach their daughters to start cleaning their faces before they are teenagers, explaining that it helps to clear pores, to remove the oil and bacteria that cause blemishes to form.”
Cleaning your face thoroughly is also key to allowing all of the other steps of your skincare routine to be their most effective. That is why French women are big advocates of the double cleanse. The first cleanse is often using a micellar water. This is gentle but effective, as we have already discovered, for removing makeup, grease and dirt from the day.
The second cleanse is often with a cleansing milk. This is a gentler way to effectively treat specific skin concerns. Guinot have a range of cleansing milks, specially formulated for your skin type.
For oily and combination skin, Guinot Lait Hydra Fraicheur is an oil based cleansing milk that emulsifies when water is added, drawing out dirt and impurities and then leaving the skin feeling really clean once rinsed.
Lait Hydra FraicheurCleanser for All Skin TypesSkincare200ml: £21.25
For dry skin, Guinot Lait Hydra Beautehas shea oil to intensely nourish and moisturise your skin and fig extract to gently exfoliate. This rich creamy cleanser is applied to the skin and removed with cotton pads to avoid further irritation for dry and sensitive skin.
Lait Hydra BeauteCleanser For Dry SkinSkincare200ml: £21.25
3. Cotton pads
Another product you will find in the basket of a French woman in a pharmacy are cotton pads. As we have already discovered, hard water can be harsh on the skin. To ensure a gentle and balanced skincare routine, French women prefer to use micellar waters and cleansing milks that can be applied with cotton pads. Favouring a gentler approach to skincare than perhaps we British women are used to, there is also a tendency to avoid harsh scrubs and physical exfoliators. That is not to say that there isn’t a respect for the need for exfoliation. But chemical exfoliators, that work to dissolve the bonds between skin cells, rather than physical exfoliators that mechanically remove the dead skin cells through scrubbing, are preferable.
4. Eye cream
The skin around your eye area is different to the rest of the face. It is thinner and more delicate and so needs special treatment. French women understand this from a young age and love investing in eye creams for their skin type. They don’t invest in temporary solutions such as botox or injections but favour well researched creams that have active ingredients for skin health.
Hydro Defense Complex - this is a unique and effective formulation of fig, watermelon, red algae extract combines with a patented h20 patch to brighten, hydrate, soothe and repair the skin.
Creatine - to stimulate collagen production. This is key for plumping up the skin again, treating eye bags and fine lines and wrinkles around the eye area.
Urea - a natural exfoliator and moisturiser that is found in the skin’s natural moisturising properties. As your skin ages this naturally decreases so this ingredient gives your skin a helping hand to boost its own natural moisture.
As your skin ages its makeup changes. Your skin can start to produce less oil, even if you have always had naturally oily skin. This is often due to changes in hormones and a slowing down of the skin renewal process. French women understand the need for a face cream or oil that effectively hydrates and moisturises the skin.
Payot Hydra 24+ Gel Creme Sorbet is a lightweight face cream that works to restore the skin’s lipid barrier and replenish lost oil. It has a gel like texture that melts into the skin.
What is also important is the way French women use facial massage to make the most of face creams. Nadia Payot is the founder of the famous 42 facial exercises for facial massage. It not only stimulates the facial muscles and skin but also ensures the product is absorbed into the skin and is most effective.
The final thing you will find in any French woman’s basket at the pharmacy is a serum - there is an understanding that serums are powerful tools in skincare and can boost treatment of a specific skin concern. French skincare formulators like Payot spend a long time in the laboratory exploring the right concentration and combination of active ingredients to make serums that effectively treat and care for the skin. In just a few drops a serum can give a burst of active ingredients to the skin.
For example, Payot My Payot’s Concentrate Eclat - a powerful Vitamin C serum. It contains five different types of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), which are great for exfoliating and refreshing the skin, and it also contains vitamins A, C, E and K for skin health.
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One thing you won’t find women buying from a french pharmacy:
When it comes to exfoliation and masques, French women are more interested in chemical exfoliants than physical scrubs. So when it comes to getting rid of dead skin and impurities you won’t find the shelves lined with harsh face scrubs but are more likely to see products like Payot Uni Skin Masque Magnetique, a unique face mask that is applied to skin for five minutes then uses a magnet to remove the mask and all of the impurities it has drawn out of the skin.
Uni Skin Masque Magnetiqueface maskSkincare50ml: £16.00
French pharmacies understand skin care. They are skin specialists. Which isn’t always the case in UK pharmacies. When you see a brand is sold in French pharmacies, it is a mark of quality. Products stocked are developed by companies who have researched the most effective ingredients and formulas. Brands like Payot are common in French pharmacies. We have just added the Payot Paris brand to our site.
Get a taste of the French pharmacy in your skincare routine.
Also as an introductory offer, of you spend £35 on Payot, we’ll give you 3 free Payot minis! Shop now: