Beauty / Favourites

The cult favourites – best French pharmacy skin and haircare brands

French Pharmacy Brands

There are so many reasons to love and visit France, and skincare is definitely one of them.

In the last century, it was not uncommon for people around the world to make a pilgrimage to France simply to raid the country's exceptional skin, hair and body care products. But it was not the department stores that visitors flocked to, it was the chemists and pharmacies. Each little corner shop proved to be a treasure trove of high-quality and efficacious skincare, all readily available and at a very acceptable price point.

My first experience in a French pharmacy - I dove into a small chemist with a blue awning on a tiny street of Cannes. I was looking for  bandaids, but instead I spent nearly an hour pouring over the shelves filled. There were dozens of brands with labels that heralded nourishing properties and wonderful botanicals like thermal water and apricot.

But you no longer need to make trip to sunny Cannes or metropolitan Paris to find these cult products. Most of them are available at the new beauty giants like Sephora. If you're just beginning your journey into the realm of French pharmacy products - or if you're just looking for something new - below is our round-up of the best in French pharmacy brands.




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A post shared by Eau Thermale Avène Australia (@avene_au)

There are so many reasons to love this French classic. It's a brand with over 270 years of history in caring for sensitive skin, as a bath house and beauty brand. Avène utilises the benefits of the Avène region's Thermal Spring Water, it's the key ingredient in most of the brands products. This company didn't actually start making products until 1990, but since they first landed on the shelves of French pharmacies, Avène has been a cult secret to glowing skin. We love the Thermal Spring Water Spray and the Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream.

Shop Avène.



Created by Dr. Tricot in the 1950s, Embryolisse was born in a Parisian hospital. Tricot created the original Lait-Crème Concentré to assist with managing various skin pathologies, a product designed to balance and respect the skin. Now the exact same cream is a cult hero loved by millions. From the humble shelves of French chemists to a backstage beauty secret, you'll find models like Alexandra Agoston and Gabriella Brooks list Embryolisse as skincare essential.

Shop Embryolisse.


La Roche-Posay


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A post shared by La Roche-Posay Australia & NZ (@larocheposayaunz)

La Roche-Posay is a brand with a mission - to make dermatologically-formulated skincare accessible to all who need it. These products are designed to be tolerated by even the most sensitive and reactive skin, hopefully improving the quality of life for anyone who suffers from conditions like eczema. The brand's name comes from the town La Roche-Posay, which is the location of the company's key ingredient, its thermal spring water. We love the the Toleriane Ultra Moisturising Cream.

Shop La Roche-Posay.





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A post shared by BIODERMA Australia (@biodermaaustralia)

This is a brand that is all about serving our skin's biology. French pharmacist and biologist Jean-Noël Thorel believe that “rather than over-treating the skin, it must learn how to function properly.” In light of this commitment he created Bioderma, a brand inspired by skin - not the other way around. Bioderma is made alongside healthcare experts from around the world, all who work to create products that support and preserve healthy skin.

Shop Bioderma.




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A post shared by Caudalie (@caudalie)

The story of this brand begins in French wine country Bordeaux. Mathilde Thomas and her husband Bertrand met professor Joseph Vercauteren on their winery during a harvest, and when he saw they threw away grape seeds he said "do you know that you're throwing away treasure?" He explained grape seeds contain the most powerful antioxidants in the world. Thus the brand was born. Utilising some of the most powerful plant-based ingredients, this a brand that makes products designed for efficacy and real anti-ageing results. Today, Caudalíe is now one of the biggest beauty brands in the world.

Shop Caudalíe.


Leonor Greyl

This French haircare brand began when Leonor met Jean-Marie. She loved haircare and he was an engineer and botanist. Together they set out on a journey to make natural haircare products long before the world had cottoned on to the efficacy and power of plant-based ingredients. The brand's famous Huile de Palme (now L'Huile de Leonor Greyl) has been a cult product for decades. Despite its success, Leonor Greyl is still a family run business, but now with more than 50 years experience in formulating high-quality and effective natural haircare.

Shop Leonor Greyl.


Vichy Laboratories

Vichy started out with a simple idea, that skin is a vital organ and it needs scientific rigour to perform at its best. 80 years later, this philosophy is still at the heart of the brand. Working with top scientists and dermatologists, Vichy develops tailored regimes that are clinically proven to transform skin. It's star ingredient? Mineral rich volcanic water.

Shop Vichy Laboratories.




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A post shared by BIOTHERM (@biotherm)

This brand was born in the French Pyrenees, one of the most preserved parts of Europe. Doctor Jos Jullien found 'the Healing Fountain', a place where soldier would go to heal their wounds. He cracked the mysterious healing secret of this water, a type of plankton. Biotherm found a way to recreate this plankton and it serves as the foundation for the brand's products, a range designed to heal and preserve the skin. Biotherm claims that some scientist say its plankton is the most unique regenerating ingredient in the cosmetic industry.

Shop Biotherm.




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A post shared by Klorane Australia (@kloraneau)

This haircare brand uses botanical ingredients to nourish hair and scalp. 50 years ago in the South West of France, pharmacist Pierre Fabre created Klorane in his small corner pharmacy. He was driven by a passion for plant and a belief in their benefit for health and beauty but also in their protection for future generations. Klorane is now the number one haircare brand in European pharmacies. It's commitment to biodegradable formulas, plant-based actives, eco-design and renewable energy saw the brand awarded the Ecocert Environment ISO 26000.

Shop Klorane.




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A post shared by NUXE (@nuxe)

From a small Parisian formulation laboratory in 1990, to a global beauty brand, NUXE is brand that has its roots in nature. Founder Aliza Jabès was a pioneer in natural-origin cosmetology. She combined the marvels of natural ingredients with a scientific approach to create a range of daily skincare. From there, NUXE opened it's own spas, so people could experience NUXE and the brand expertise in an authentic way. The brand has over 50 spas worldwide and products like the legendary Huile Prodigieuse all over dry oil are verified cult and found the beauty cabinets of beauty experts across the globe.

Shop NUXE.


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Image: from Instagram and Klorane