4-productsThe wonders of the French parapharmacie are renowned. A parapharmacie specializes in health-related stuff like vitamins, oral hygiene products, skin care and costmetics. Lots of pharmacies also have parapharmacie sections, basically everything in front of the counter. Even cough syrup and aspirin are behind the counter.

As at the droguerieit’s assumed that customers should get advice when choosing even a non-prescription medication. Many times, I have asked for something simple–a decongestant, a wart remover–only to be grilled about what was wrong, why did I want this product, haven’t I tried this other one? Sometimes they just give me what I asked for, but sometimes they persuade me to try an alternative. I hate to admit it, but they tend to be right.

A trip to France should always include a stop at the parapharmacie. And among the many great products to check out, Avène stands out. It has its roots in the thermal station of the same name, a picturesque village of Avène in Herault, the departement right next to Aude.

The wonders of the local waters were discovered in 1736, when a marquis’s horse was cured of terrible itching after a few baths. In 1871, the waters were sent to Chicago to treat burn victims of the Great Fire. The company itself was formed in 1990 as a dermatological laboratory.

I had terribly itchy eyes a couple of months ago. I think I had rubbed sunscreen on my eyelids while wiping sweat during a run. The itching continued for days, so I saw my doctor, who told me to throw away all my products and use either Clinique or Avène. I’d always liked Clinique, but it’s pricey in France, so I checked out Avène.

makeup
The makeup line is called Couvrance.

I already had used several of its products, as I realized as I gathered them to photograph for this post. Every time they had been bought at the suggestion of a doctor (and not always the same one!).

I went to the Pharmacie de la Gare in Carcassonne, which is huge and which has the best prices on all kinds of products. The sales assistants suggested I try the “Tolerance” line, which has no preservatives. To keep it from going bad, there’s an airlock, kind of like on boxed wine.

full-and-empty
No air goes in when the cream comes out.
end-of-cap
The end of the cream tube
cap-side-view
Side view, not squeezing….
coming-out
Squeezing the tube, the pressure makes the tip pop out.

I’ve been using it for a couple of months and like it a lot. This isn’t sponsored–none of my posts are sponsored–it’s just an FYI if you’re looking for very natural, hypoallergenic cosmetics and skin care.

sunscreenThe sales assistants also suggested this sunblock, which is mineral-based. Great stuff–not greasy or ghostly white.

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19 thoughts on “French Beauty Secret

  1. Italian pharmacies are much the same. I always take time for a look at the treasure trove of interesting homeopathic products that you would not find in the U.S. Plus it is unlikely that you would get ‘advice’ on your ailment from a Walgreen’s or CVS. Unfortunate, but the big box stores are not geared to holistic remedies. Pity.

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  2. This is so interesting. And I won’t have to wait for another trip to France to try it as amazon has quite a range of Avene. Of course without the brilliant advice you’re getting at your parapharmacie! Any idea of which product would be worth trying for dry and itchy skin?

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  3. Love love love these French info posts!!
    I have a big tube of Avene Xera Calm and no idea what its for but I’m puttting on some now…sitting at least a year in my cabinet. (Lipid-replenishing cream).
    Have you tried Dexeryl or Biafine? Inquiring minds etc…
    Embryalisse (lait-creme concentré) whatever the H that is lurks in my cabinet too..
    The French and their traitments! Big part of their ‘j’en ne sait quoi’.

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  4. Great post. Have heard that Avene and Embryolisse are good products, will try next time I’m over. Thanks also for the sun block recommendation, I’ve had skin cancer…was it expensive?

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  5. One of the products I use is based on a recommendation from a French pharmacist. Luckily, another blogger discovered that Trader Joe’s had a product with micellar in it, which is supposed to great for anti-aging. I can’t wait to put my skin in the hands of a French pharmacist.
    Do you always wear sunblock while running? I usually run early in the morning so don’t worry about it.

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    1. Yes, micellar water is wonderful for taking off makeup. And yes, I always wear sunblock when I run. It’s rarely at dawn–I work a while, then run, to break up the sitting. But I wear sunblock on my face all the time.

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