Armed with a list of products to purchase, last Saturday afternoon saw me make my first visit to City Pharma. I usually just pop into whatever pharmacy I can find to pick up my essentials but having heard a lot about City Pharma I wanted to visit - I planned to browse the aisles, taking pictures of the products for this post, deliberating over what to buy...
The reality was quite different. The place was rammed. Tourists shouted, pushing their way through the narrow aisles, knocking products to the floor as they went. French women with poodles in tow muttered angrily at the tourists. The poodles saw the noise as an excuse to start barking (I am terrified of dogs so this was not ideal really). It was chaos. I made my way around the aisles as quickly as possible, shoving everything into my basket thinking that there was no way I would ever be returning so I might as well just buy it all now. I now know how my dad felt being dragged into New Look when I was a teenager.
So here is what I bought and my recommendations for when you're next visiting France. A lot of these products can be bought in the UK or online (try La Guide Sante) but they are cheaper in France and money spent on trips doesn't really count as spending, does it? Also, the pound to euro exchange rate is pretty good at the moment - I obviously didn't check before I left but when working out the prices I now wish I had bought a few more bits!
The holy grail of make-up removal for many. I have used this for the last few years and other eye make-up removers pale in comparison. I also use it to take off my face make-up if I'm feeling lazy or at a festival and have no running water (so much nicer than using wipes). I haven't tried any of the micellaire waters available in the UK (Garnier's seems to get good reviews) so I have no idea how it compares to those but I love Bioderma and will be sticking with it for as long as I can keep my supplies up. This massive bottle was around £4.90 (although this one is for Sophie as I already have 2 back-ups).
Elodie recommended this one - its a healing balm used for sunburn and skin irritation so a great one to have to hand. I have really sensitive skin so thought this sounded ideal - it is completely fragrance free and feels so soft and silky on application. It's gentle enough to use on babies and perfect for my dry winter skin which has been suffering after too many long, cold outdoor runs. This was £8.50 for a double pack.
The exfoliator is for Hannah who recommended the range for sensitive skin and the cream is for me. This brand is an essential for many French women. It's so gentle and perfect for dry skin. The cream is a super-rich moisturiser which calms and soothes the skin. It can also be used to remove make-up or as a hydrating masque so its the perfect multi-tasker. One for using at night and popping in my handbag. I got the limited edition gold packaging but it's usually in a white and blue tube. £8.50 per product.
Mummy Lipstick and I both love Avene and have used the products for a few years now. We both have sensitive skin and the products are all fragrance free and super gentle. The moisturiser is a favourite of both of ours for being super light and containing an SPF so it's a great everyday product for normal-combination skin. There's a "riche" version for drier skins too. Mummy Lipstick was on the lookout for a new eye-cream so I picked up this one for her to try. £15 for the two. Moisturiser and eye-cream are both available at Boots (although exchange rate made these much cheaper in France).
Sophie recommended this lipbalm and it's another cult product that gets raved about in the blog world. My lips are so, so dry whatever I seem to put on them at the moment so I'm hoping that this helps. It smells lovely, too and for £4.60 it's a bargain. It's available in stick-form from M&S in the UK.
6. Bioderama hydrating spray
French pharmacies are packed with hydrating spritzes - Evian make a great one which I've tried in the past but while waiting in the ridiculous queue this feel into my basket. I love mists for calming my skin after a workout or for a quick refresh if I'm not wearing any make-up and this is perfectly handbag sized for the summer - I used to use these on French holidays as a cool down while sunbathing so holding out some hope that I'll use it in the UK this summer.
Another Elodie recommendation. This old-school French brand is amazingly good value - I picked the pink clay masque for sensitive skin and it's absolutely lovely for a pampering ritual. The green version for oily skin sounds great, too.