French Pharmacy Picks

I loved reading your drugstore beauty picks last week and as promised, today I thought I’d share some of my favorites from French drugstores. (I think I mentioned earlier that I’ve slowly been working my way through Gwyneth Paltrow’s list of recommendations.) First up:

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse
I love this product! I think it will become a staple on my bathroom shelf. It’s made for hair, skin, face and hands, and I use it on all of those. How I Use It: I mix in a few sprays with my other hair products to keep my curls soft. I have to keep it away from my roots or my scalp gets too oily, but it’s amazing on the rest of my hair. It’s a little heavier than what I prefer on my face, but if I’m having a really dry day, I like it. Plus, if I’ve applied my blush with a heavy hand, it’s perfect for smoothing it out so I don’t look like a clown. When I use it as body moisturizer (best: right out of the shower), Ben Blair always comments because the scent is light and really pretty and the oil makes my skin glow.

It’s more expensive than a typical drugstore product. In fact, I think this might be the only item on the Goop list that’s over $20. But a little goes a long way so a bottle lasts for ages. At the rate I’m using it, I’m guessing my bottle will last about a year. Also, I haven’t seen this on the shelves in many French pharmacies, though if you ask, they will order it for you. I actually purchased my bottle on a flight from France to the U.S., when I noticed it in the duty-free catalog. Hah!

Klorane Dry Shampoo
Another great product! Super easy to use and really effective. How I use it: If I wake up, and my hair smells a bit hair-y, but I don’t have time for a full wash and dry, this product does the trick. I spray it right in at the roots, wait a few minutes, then work it into my scalp with my fingers. (If you have straight hair, you can just brush out the shampoo).

Confession: when I’m out of dry shampoo, I use whatever baby powder or talcum powder I have on hand. I sprinkle it on my roots, wait for it to absorb, and work it into my scalp. But if you’re unsure what the effect is supposed to be, I’d recommend trying the dry shampoo first. If you haven’t used dry shampoo before, this is a great first one to try. You can find it at Amazon (link above), but when I was in New York last October, I also noticed it was available at Duane Reade — so hopefully you can find it where you are too.

I don’t remember what I spent on this tube, but I think it was very inexpensive. Gwyneth says, “Avibon is hard to find outside of France, but it’s one of my very favorites. It’s full of Vitamin A, which is wonderful for the skin, getting rid of blemishes, tough dry spots and preventing wrinkles (they say). I know an older movie star who uses this every night and she has the most amazing skin!”

Based on that description, I was expecting some sort of face creme, but it’s not. It’s really thick. Really. Thick. Like thicker than vaseline. (Have you ever tried A&D ointment? It reminds me of that texture.) The first time I tried to use it all over my face I was like blech, I will never use this again, because it was too thick and I couldn’t spread it around. But now I’m an old pro. How I use it: I rub a pea size dollop between my hands to warm it up and soften it and then massage it into my face. It feels wonderful! And I like how it softens my skin. It feels like a protective, preserving coating on my face — and feels like it keeps moisture locked in.

I have also had success with it as a blemish fighter. Last month, I could feel a deep pimple forming and rubbed a bit of Avibon in at the site. The zit never surfaced and was gone the next day! I haven’t done enough testing to see how consistent it is, but I was impressed.

I can’t find a source for Avibon online (if you find one, please share), so if you want a tube, you’ll have to make a request from your next friend who travels to France. : )

P.S. — Please let me know what you think. I’m happy to keep working my way through the list if you’d like to hear more.

56 thoughts on “French Pharmacy Picks”

  1. Please, some more… I also love perusing French pharmacies. I always bring home a supply of tubes of Ibuprofen gel. Label reads: “Nurofen Gel,” Ibuprofene 5%, tube de 50g de gel.

    I originally found a British version at Boots in Londom when searching for a German anti-infamatory cream “Trameel” that’s available online in the U.S.

    Seriously! This is fantastic for small muscle/joint pain. You feel better in seconds. I only have arthritis in my thumbs so I avoid taking oral anti-inflammatory meds.

  2. I always loved buying T. Leclerc face powder, but now I can buy it in the States or online. So soft and it smells good, too.

    I am really coveting that Avibon. And Ibuprofen gel? Wow. That could change my life!

  3. More please. I still have my mom bring me a couple of Swiss pharmacy staples, but I like the description of that Avibon…I’ve tried several night creams and react badly to them, so something that fights pimples as well should work better…

  4. Dry shampoo. Every womans dream. I too fall back on baby powder (it seems to always have a greater abundance around my house). The last time I bought baby powder, 9-10 months ago, I made a great discovery. They make new scents, my personal favorite is magnolia. I am all for my hair smelling like magnolias rather than the baby power smell that some how for me only conjures up diaper changes. Life changing I tell you.

  5. Yes, please work your way down the list and share all the details in the lovely way you always do.

    I’m especially curious about Biafine. Sounds like a better version of Neosporin. I used to buy something like this in Mexico so wondering what the French version is like.

    Thanks a bunch.

  6. YES YES! More more! I live for this stuff!

    I’ve heard great things about the Klorane dry shampoo — I seriously must try! Lots of times the bottom of my hair is ok-for-another-day but I get oily on my scalp. I’m thinking dry shampoo is going to change my life!

  7. The Avibon sounds wonderful, but if it has strong amounts of Vitamin A it should probably not be used during pregnancy. My doctor told me to be careful of dermatological products containing lots of Vitamin A, as they are toxic to developing fetuses.

    The dry shampoo sounds great! I think I will give it a try!

  8. I bought almost everything from the GOOP list when I visited Paris last March. I am LOVING the Avibon, Biafine, and the dry shampoo but my favourite, favourite is the Embroylisse. It sort of smells like “old lady” (according to my husband) but I just love how soft my skin feels after using it.

  9. Always great to discover a new product, being the product junkie that I am. Another great French product is Jurlique moisturizing cream, the best day and night cream, makes me skin feel really dewy and I always get compliments on my skin when I remember to use it. Its thick but not as much as the avibon, which sounds really heavy. Great post…

  10. Oh my, this is awesome! I seriously live for this kind of stuff.

    The Abvion sounds amazing! I’m going to try my darndest to get my hands on some somehow.

    Oh, and dry shampoo, it’s the bomb. It has totally changed my entire shampoo/get ready routine. I also like to use it even if I have washed my hair that day if I’m going out later that night and need a hair pick-me-up.

  11. Dear G,
    Okay, I am giggling about this post – it truly is so much fun! I always wonder about different products when I visit other countries, but so often you really just don’t even know where to start. I saved that particular GOOP newsletter too, thinking that I’m definitely going to pick up a few items next time I’m en France. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences too. I look forward to reading more. It’s really a delight!

    Best wishes,

  12. I was gladly surprised to see Biafine on the list. You HAVE TO buy this cream. It’s a must! It is an amazing cream for burns mainly. It is actually used by burnt units in French hospitals. I tried it the first time 20 years ago after a bad sunburn in Egypt. The next day I couldn’t tell I had a sunburn! Since then it’s in my cabinet at home and at work (I work with kids) and I’ve used it so many time with so much success. You need to apply a huge amount on the area and leave it there for a while, Re-apply when needed. The soothing cream cools down the heat amazingly well. The smell reminds me of my French childhood. It’s so ridiculously inexpensive you have to buy the large tube. Trust me! :-)

  13. Nuxe could be called my new scent, too! Do you know that one with the gold glitter, as well?? That was is sensational in warm weather. I read that Gisele Bunchen used it year ago, before a trip to France; picked it up and will say that it is just fantastic. A staple.

  14. Fantastic post! Speaking of fantastic, it’s true that the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is beyond amazing. This holiday season, I treated myself to the sparkly version to apply when getting dressed up for family dinners or apéros with friends. Whee!

    An Avène product I just recently discovered is “Cicalfate”, which is a “repair cream” that has helped make a recent scar I have practically vanish. Wow.

    I love what you’ve posted & the link to GOOP’s version as well. Both of my sisters are coming soon from Canada to visit me in France, so I will be sure to send the two links along & remind them to save their money so they can spend euros à la Pharmacie! Merci!

  15. oh how I love a french pharmacy! And I LOVE how the staff will come and help you with your beauty product needs! I don’t buy much, but this year my husband and I plan to bring home our weight in Sanex deodorant. We don’t know why, but it seems to work better than what we have here….

  16. When you posted the GP list, I printed it off for my Mom, who was getting ready for a vacation in France. She brought back a bag full of goodies! We both love the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse oil, and use it in the same ways also! I was pleased to see you could find it fairly easily here in the states! I love the Bioderma also!

  17. My husband brought me the items on GOOP list when he was in Cannes for a work trip this summer. I have loved the facial moisturizer, Embryolise. (I have no idea if it contains actual embryos of anything—I hope to think not.) I also like the Biafane – it’s in a GIANT tube and Gywnnie says to use it on chapped lips, so I do. It seems to help!

    I’ve been using the Avibon as Neosporin. Whoops! :)

  18. I also have the glittery Nuxe. I see that there are some fans of it in the comments, but I’m not sure HOW to use it. I’ve just been dabbing a bit on my collarbone or cheeks for a fancy night out. Any ideas?

  19. A simular product is the NUXE is the LOUIS WIDMER REMEDERM PARFUMED BODY OIL SPRAY.
    The same effect, for skin, hair,… also with a lovely subtil smell!

  20. Biafine is available in the US with a prescription. I had a 2nd degree burn on my hand and it really helped with the healing process. Embryolisse is also really good, moisturizing without being too greasy. I love stuff like this, looking forward to hearing about more of your discoveries!

  21. Your comparison of Avibon to A +D got me thinking…A + D ointment is so named because it has those vitamins in it. I wonder if it would do the same things for your face. It would be interesting to compare the ingredients.

  22. my husband is from france and i will never forget the 1st time we went to visit his family. i needed tampons so we went to the pharmacy….and i was there for an hour. i have such a love affair with french pharmacies. when i go to france the 1st thing i do when i land in lyon is go to the airport pharmacy just to buy something to get a little fix of my addiction.

  23. Wow, thanks, I didn’t know about this list and copied it to my phone. Next time grocery shopping will be in France! (we live in the Swiss part of the Jura)

  24. The Avibon tube is labelled as pommade? that conjures a different kind of memory for me… but it sounds like a great product! More so if it is inexpensive. Haven’t tried dry shampoo, and interested in baby powder used as such, but wouldn’t it aggravate dandruff?

  25. I just got completely lost in this!! Not like me at all. Must mean my skin is getting old.

    Pssst! is an American dry shampoo product that I find quite effective.

  26. I am a HUGE Nuxe fan! Their lip balm is amazing. I put it on my lips every night before I go to sleep. And their oil with the gold flecks?? Perfect for legs in the summer time. The scents of their products get me too.

  27. Just wanted to say there is a site called in Nice, France that offers free shipping worldwide for Avibon vitamin a cream. Their prices are low relatively speaking and they accept credit cards for what it’s worth!

  28. Does anyone know the name of an ointment bought in France, smells orangey, texture like vaseline, for dry skin, especially hands – recommended by someone working in a ski resort – excellent for after working with concrete/cement – very similar to “8-Hour-Cream” which was produced by well known cosmetic group but much more expensive than the French ointment (can’t recall that either! Arden?)

    1. I think that you are referring to the embroyolisse cream. I have heard a few say that they think that it smells of an orange – I personally adore this cream.

  29. This stuff isn’t available anywhere but Amazon. I think Amazon for stocking rare hard to find products. I heard the manufacturer had discontinued the product and so the pommade isn’t available anywhere. Plus one of the perks with Amazon as that it ships from the United States so we don’t have to wait weeks/months to receive it.

  30. I just got back from Paris and all the pharmacies said that Avibon is no longer being stocked. They said there is a problem with the supplier getting product into the country. All the other goodies you mention are easy to find, although prices can really vary depending on the pharmacy you go into. On one of your other lists you mentioned the towels and soap, and those can be a challenge if you don’t go to a larger store. I never found the play Euros or the chalkboards. I have to say the French store clerks thought we were crazy because we just printed out your blog posts and handed them the pictures. It saved a LOT of confusion with the language barrier!

    1. I have not been able to avibon in the states; however, you can order a product similar to it by the name of A313. Has anyone heard of that? If so what do you think of it?

  31. I’m just back from a trip to Paris. The avibon patent ran out so it’s no longer under that name. The pharmacist gave me a cream called A313 which is exactly the same. He said not all pharmacists across France are aware of this, so just make sure you ask for pommade A313.

  32. Unfortunately A313 is only 200,000 IU which is 1/5 of Avibon’ potency, clearly a much weaker version compared to Avibons 1,000,000 IU. I will miss Avibon. I just purchased a tube at amazon today but because it became so rare and discontinued the price tag that amazon is selling it for was about 170.00. Expensive but well worth the price tag to get the true results we desire. I can’t find it anywhere else. I’ve seen it on ebay too but it was opened and used selling for 100.00. No thanks on used pommade.

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