French Pharmacy Products - Don’t Believe The Hype

By Anni Hall

Each show season beauty editors go backstage and regurgitate the (not so) ‘secret weapons’ of the hair and make-up teams. Pawpaw ointment always gets a mention, as does the Beautyblender sponge applicator, and of course those affordable magical French pharmaceutical products. Editors waffle on about how they heal, protect and transform the skin, and are just simply saviours for the poor models’ complexion. 

Having been a beauty editor and a make-up artist who works backstage, let me tell you that these fancy French products aren’t worth the hype. They’re for people with perfect skin, not people like you and me. They’re not going to rid your acne and they’re definitely not going to shrink your pores (by the way, nothing will). Instead, the main ingredients are things like water and paraffinum (Google it and decide for yourself) which both just sit on the skin and if you’re lucky, will soothe it. The reason why these products are so hot backstage is because it’s essentially a conveyor belt of beautiful people. You’re given half-an-hour max to pump out the same look on every model and the makeup will only be worn for two to three hours. These products do not treat the individual’s skin concerns, instead they mask whatever is happening to models’ (generally smooth) complexions so they look smokin’ under the runway’s bright lights and the cameras’ flashes. 

These are the four most famous French pharma buys and some alternatives for us real folk: 

The most famous buy is the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentre. A moisturiser that feels like a watered down version of good ol’ Sorbolene cream, it’s made up of a mix of fatty acids and proteins that you would find in your dad’s daggy soaps and shampoos. Sure it feels fine, but it does absolutely nothing for the skin. If you’re going to the effort of using moisturiser, why not use something that’s going to address a concern or at least has sunscreen in it? Embryolisse is cheap in France but you’re getting what you pay for. Cosmetic companies spend millions formulating new ingredients and researching the benefits of natural ingredients so branch out. Believe me, you’re not missing out.

Boiron Homéoplasmine is next up. It’s basically the French version of pawpaw ointment, it heals dry skin and is supposed to be exceptional on chapped lips. Want to know what else is exceptional on chapped lips? A toothbrush. Quelle surprise!

Another apparent French make-up must-have is Bioderma Créaline.Everyone goes gaga for this make-up remover-slash-toner. It’s good but there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary in this product that should inspire a trip to Paris (something I have done). If you’re after an affordable oil-free remover that you don’t have to rinse off try Biotherm Biosource Cleansing Micellar Water ($35), Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($10.89), and if you want to splurge go for Apot.Care Irido-Radiant Micellar Lotion ($60) . (Two of those are French anyways, so it’s pretty much the same thing!) 

Finally one for the hairstylists among us. Klorane’s Gentle Dry Shampoo was definitely the key player in making dry shampoos popular but it’s about time we moved on. Even though its white colour disappears once you run your hands through your locks it leaves the tops of the head seriously dull and matte (not a good look). Brands like Bb (Bumble and bumble for those uninitiated) have come up with coloured hair powders to prevent this from happening and even cheapo brand John Frieda has released their own dry shampoo. So next time you read some backstage tips, beware of those Frenchies. 

(Image via Shutterstock)

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