French Drugstore Skincare

By Elicka Ghahramani, @Elicka_G

Thanks to factors such as an abundance of organic produce (and despite the fashionably excessive smoking) French –in particular, Parisian—women have long been heralded for their natural beauty. While this could partly be down to the vitamin-packed, rich, organic diet or simply a matter of winning the genetic jackpot, it could also be down to the volume of dermatologically approved, affordable skincare brands available to them, as easily accessible as nipping to the shop for a packet of gum. 

The French are leading connoisseurs in ‘clinical over clean’ beauty. They’re not messing around with essential oils or the bark of a pine tree, but instead are in the labs, formulating products that will complement your skin’s own chemicals without adding unnecessary perfumes or irritants. 

Below is a list of our favourite French skincare brands typically found in drugstores.


Bioderma was founded in 1977, just north of Marseille. Over the past 40 years, the company has maintained a dedication to tackling blemishes without overly harsh or aggravating ingredients. Their hero product, no doubt of heard of by our readers and probably sitting in your bathroom cabinet right now, is their Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Solution for Sensitive Skin. This micellar water is a crowd favourite, offering complete make-up removal (even on that pesky waterproof mascara) without overly drying the skin or causing redness and irritation. Come to think of it, we can’t name a more unanimously popular micellar water. Other products we love are the Atoderm Shower Gel, which is entirely unperfumed and hypoallergenic, cleansing your skin effectively and leaving it supple and fresh, without irritating or drying out the skin surface (meaning that, ladies, if you happen to use it on your intimate bits, you don’t have to worry so much over harsh chemicals disrupting your natural pH balance). We’ve also found a new company favourite in the White Objective Fluid, which makes for a thin, milky moisturiser which manages to protect from UVA and UVB, with added Vitamin C for brightening. 

A round-up of our favourite Bioderma products are below:

  1. Bioderma Pigmentbio C-Concentrate
Bioderma PigmentBio C-Concentrate

2. Bioderma Sebium Pore Refiner Corrective Cream

Bioderma Sebum Pore Refiner

3. Bioderma Atoderm Cream

Bioderma Atoderm Cream

4. Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Solution

Bioderma Micellar Make-up removing solution

La Roche Posay

La Roche-Posay was founded in Western France, and now operates under its parent company, L’Oréal. However, the affiliation is entirely loose, as La Roche-Posay formulate with clinical attention and absolutely zero tolerance for perfume or inessential ingredients. One of their shining products is the Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream, which is popular for its light and watery consistency, blending into the skin with a minimal whitecast. However, we’re big fans of their intensive moisturisers, which manage to provide a deep nourishment without needing overly scented and greasy ingredients such as shea butter or olive oil extracts. Last but not least, we were blown away by the Retinol 0.3% Vitamin B3 Serum, which is the perfect first step for those easing retinols into their skincare routine while trying to minimise irritation. This 0.3% retinol serum upstages The Ordinary and The Inkey List with their gateway 0.5% retinols, while maintaining a relatively friendly price tag –our comparison is the Paula’s Choice Clinical 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment which retails for £53

A round-up of our top products below:

  1. La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Riche
Hydraphase Intense Riche

2. La Roche-Posay Retinol 0.3% + Vitamin B3 Serum

La Roche-Posay Retinol + B3

3. La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel


Formulated in the southern most region of France, Avène have one simple, key ingredient at the core of all of their products: thermal spring water from the commune of Avène. This philosophy and resounding belief in the restorative, calming and replenishing qualities of thermal spring water is why all of their products feel like a tall glass of water for the skin. Each product has a light, watery texture, which sinks into the skin easily. Additionally, the purity of their formulations mean that Avène is our number one brand when it comes to sensitive skin. Our particular favourites include the Extremely Gentle Cleanser for Very Sensitive Skin, which needs no explanation as its attributes are all in the (arguably too long) title. Another favourite is the Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin. We love the travel size to keep in our bag and spritz onto the face before and after a city commute, flight or particularly humid day. This mist gives the face a quick moisture boost on the go, like splashing your face with cool water (without the hassle). But Avène tackles other skin concerns too, such as their Cleanance Comedomed Anti Blemish Concentrate Moisturiser, which tackles minor blemishes without being harsh on your skin.

Our favourites from the brand are rounded up below:

  1. Avène Tolèrance Extreme Emulsion
Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion

2. Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser

Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser

3. Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin

Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin

4. Avène Cleanance Comedoned Anti-Blemish

Avène Cleanance Comedoned Anti-Blemish


Embryolisse is a little harder to get your hands on, and their main popularity in the UK centres around their intensive moisturisers. These moisturisers are fantastic for particularly parched skin, and the OBVS team were taken by the Smoothing Eye Contour Care, which offers intense hydration minus irritation for the delicate eye area. We were also impressed by the Anti Age Comfort Masque Tube, for its anti-ageing benefits thanks to the intense hydration.

Here are a few Embryolisse moisturising products to try:

  1. Embryolisse Anti-Age Comfort Masque
Embryolisse Anti-Age Comfort Masque

2. Embryolisse Smoothing Eye Contour Care 

Embryolisse Smoothing Eye Contour Care

3. Embryolisse Youth Radiance Care – 1st Wrinkles Prevention

Embyolisse Youth Radiance Care

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