Feeling good in our skin, literally, requires that we care for our skin. Knowing exactly how to tailor our skincare and beauty regimen to our specific skins needs, which as we know, evolves as we mature, is a dance with moves we must be taught, and in order to be taught, we must seek answers to questions we wish to find.
My own skincare journey has been a journey of discoveries, but I must say, I have enjoyed it. To see your skin radiate and shine in just the right way is to know you have discovered something that works for you uniquely.
As I have tailored my skincare more precisely, especially over the past ten years with advice and guidance from trusted aestheticians, I have found that my center of gravity takes me to France. The French simply know what they are doing when it comes to skincare. Don’t get me wrong, there are other products for my skin and makeup that do not come from French founded companies, but as you will see from today’s list, many of them do.
A radiant glow starts at the foundation, which is our internal good health – what we eat, drink and how we live, how we sleep. To move to the exterior, the foundation is our skin and the icing is the make-up should we choose to enhance just enough to bring forth our true beauty.
As I have grown older, I have discovered the need for less make-up and better skincare products. Nourishing rather than finishing is a savvy and worthwhile investment in the longevity of the natural, beautiful skin we seek for our entire lives than to look “perfect” for a moment and no more when the surface façade is wiped away.
In episode #13 I shared 8 Ways to Create Glowing Skin, and in episode #258 I shared 22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment in either time or money. As well, I have shared the 15 of my favorite skincare products (many of which are on today’s list), but today it is all about France and what I have found makes a significant positive difference for my skin.
This bottle of spring water will last nearly a year, and it will refresh you every time you use it. Whether to be the last thing you put on your face before you go to bed or to finish your makeup to begin the day, a quick single sprite is all you need. I have a large bottle for my home and a small bottle for travel to provide hydration when I deplane and want to look more refreshed as well as wake myself up after a long flight.
But why use spring water? For its health benefits. With its low mineral content, it will not dry out skin, but in fact do the opposite. The ideal calcium & magnesium ratio helps to improve skin texture, its silicate-rich composition softens skin, and the neutral pH reduces sensitivity & maintains skin’s natural balance
Since 2017, Bioderma’s Micellar Water has been my second of two facial cleansers. Micellar water, the concept, was created by the French in Paris (read all about it in my detailed post), and I use it in the morning and the evening to cleanse and remove my eye make-up gently.
Soothing and non-drying, one bottle will last six months, and for travel, I use Bioderma’s Cleansing and Makeup Removing Wipes for Sensitive Skin.
3. Caudalie Make-up Removing Cleansing Oil
My first cleansing solution, because as I learned and shared in episode #258 of the podcast we should cleanse our face twice, but with the right type of cleansers, is Caudalie’s cleansing oil. Now a cleansing oil may sound counterproductive, but it is highly helpful to both clean your skin without drying out or stripping your skin. Be sure to tune into episode #258 or pick up the book from which the episode was inspired to learn more about the benefits of finding the best cleansing solution for your skin.
Yes, I know Estée Lauder now owns it, but it is originally, at its heart, a company created by the French, and the product that started it all is worth the investment. I share more in detail why I love this product in this post, but quickly I will say, it took me time to be able to afford this product (and some rearranging of my budget), but the investment was seen to produce the results I wanted nearly immediately – plumper, more radiant skin. Similarly, I also use La Mer’s Regenerating Serum to reduce fine lines as it boosts natural collagen, and if you have scars you would like to diminish, you can temporarily use their Concentrate as it works seemingly like magic as I learned a couple of years ago.
5. L’Occitane Lavender Hand Cream (not lotion)
If you are looking for a daily simple pleasure, add this luxurious lavender cream to your evening ritual. I only use this lotion once each day and give my hands a bit of luxury just before I slip into bed. The scent is magnificent as it lulls your mind to calm down and think about falling asleep.
Be sure to purchase this packaging and the cream (not the lotion) as they are different. While they are both lovely products, creams use less water, thus retaining more moisture in your skin.
6. La Roche Posay Redermic R Eyes Retinol Eye Cream
With just a petite dab each night rubbed gently on the delicate eye area, La Roche Posay’s Redermic eye cream has been my go-to eye lotion for going on four years. There are a handful of different eye creams available depending upon what you need from La Roche-Posay, so be sure to check them each out here.
7. La Roche Posay Ultra Light Facial Sunscreen
Each day of the year if I know I am stepping outside for any length, I apply La Roche-Posay’s sunscreen for the face. It feels just as a light moisturizer would and is not sticky or greasy at all. Once I knew there was such a product, I made sure to always have it on hand while at home or traveling. You do not need much, so this bottle will last a long time, just make sure to use it only on your face, as they have other products for your full body that are less expensive and just as effective.
8. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil
As we have all been washing our hands more frequently, we may be seeing this taking a toll on our skin. While lotion is wonderful to moisturize, addtionally using oil to add extra nourishment that is retained by the skin prior to putting on hand lotion is a wonderful idea, and Nuxe’s dry oil is perfect for not only your hands but your entire body. Nuxe was founded in Paris in the mid-1990s by Aliza Jabès. Since then, it continues to be a beauty and skincare brand that people trust for its environmentally friendly practices and beautiful results. Adding a natural radiant glow, the oil offers not only the aesthetic benefit, but nourishment our skin is so desperately seeking today.
9. Bioderma Nourishing Lip Repair Balm
Beginning this past September I came across Bioderma’s lip repair balm. Designed to look and feel like a lipstick, it applies simply and gently, and I have many of these in my life now. From my office at school and at home, by my bedside, in my handbags, there is one everywhere, and it nourishes and need not be reapplied endless. Perfect!
10. Clarins Toning Lotion with Chamomile
As I shared in this post, I had stepped away from using a toner for quite some time, thinking it to be an unnecessary expense; however, after reading Ageless Beauty: The French Way, I rediscovered the purpose – to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively. And since we are investing in our skincare, I did not want what had the potential to do for my skin to go to waste.
Clarin’s toner for dry-normal skin will last nearly a year. I purchased my first bottle in August, and I am still using it (I use it twice every day). Gentle and soothing, I use it after I cleanse my skin and before I apply my oils, serums and lotions.
11. Sisley Instant Éclat, instant glow primer
Used for special occasions or when my skin really needs a boost of a radiant glow, Sisely’s Instant Éclat or primer (with a touch, just a barely noticeable glow of shimmer) is what I reach for. It is an investment, which is primarily why I only use it for certain occasion, but it does what it says and reduces the need to wear much more makeup as it does the work for you of making your skin look radiant and youthful.
12. Dior Dream Skin Fresh & Perfect
For those days when you do not want to wear your tinted moisturizer or your regular make-up routine, choose Dior’s Dream Skin. Typically I use this for my weekend or for going to yoga class. I simply place my concealer on, pat on Dior’s Dream Skin, mascara, lip balm and tadah!
Your order comes with two Dream Skin Pads, and my first has lasted six months, so you can easily purchase this product and it will last you a year if not more. A worthwhile investment that will simplify your makeup routine and let you rest assured you look radiant and simply naturally beautiful.
13. Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
Last but not least, I could not live without my Klorane dry shampoo as I do not wash my hair every day, and this is how I can get away with it. I have used this product for more than seven years, and have been recommending it on the blog and to my family and friends ever since. For a fair price, one bottle (depending upon how much you use it) will last you about a month. I always make sure I have travel sizes for my trips away, and while I have tried the non-aerosol bottles, they do not work the way I need them to. I have returned to this traditional bottle and save so much time on my non-wash-my-hair days as my hair doesn’t get oily and still looks great.
Updated! 3/2023 — 14. La Fervance’s Éclat Extraordinaire
Beginning in late February 2023 I swapped my creme de La Mer for a fairly new French skincare company, La Fervance’s, Éclat Extraordinaire. This creme is deeply hydrating and is all-natural in its composition. I learned of the product after it was recommended by French actress Philippine LeRoy-Beaulieu (who stars as Sophie in Emily in Paris and in Agathe Koltes – a French series) multiple times, and as she has radiant skin in her late 50s, I took note and vowed I would give it a try to see how it compared to what I had been using.
Well, so far, after two weeks, my skin looks and feels hydrated as it is after using my previous moisturizer of choice, and as I live in an arid climate here in Bend, Oregon, I knew it had to be. Containing “67% active ingredients boasting double hyaluronic acid from 100% pure HA sources, a bio-active complex of Australian mountain plant extracts, mimosa and jojoba extracts, baobab lifting gel, Buriti oil, Kakadu plum extract, vitamin E, 23K gold, pearly pigments and pure seawater from the French Breton coasts”, the scent is lovely and your skin will look dewy and radiant following application. You can apply it as a masque as well, so a thicker amount and then wipe off after about 10 minutes, but I apply a light layer morning and night and let it soak into my skin and I wake up looking rested following evening application and my skin looks fresh through an entire 8-10 hour day.
For nearly the same amount of product, but for $100 less (a bit more depending upon the exchange rate), I am going to keep using it and see how my skin continues to respond. So far, so good. (yep, this product does ship internationally from France)
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12 thoughts on “Updated! 14 French Beauty Products I Love & Recommend”
Thank you Shannon for sharing this wonderful list of advice! This post is so timely for me. Over this long break, I’ve been longing for a more pampering skincare routine to lift my spirits. I ordered the Von Mueffling book and enjoyed it, but choosing which products to use is hard when you can’t smell or test them in the store. I confess I’ve been lurking on all the skincare sites and got a bit overwhelmed with the choice! I’m glad to read how your skin has improved and which products you’ve got the most out of. Somehow the products being french make me feel the experience will be even more uplifting. The double-cleanse will be a new thing for me! Have a wonderful pampered week!
Janis, Happy to help and perhaps provide some narrowing down of choices. While my hair cut and color will have to wait for a while, there are many pampering routines we can enjoy while at home, and skincare is certainly one of them. 🙂 I absolutely loved and appreciated Von Mueffling’s book – a wealth of a resource.
Hi Shannon, Another great post! I too am a lover of French skincare but am curious about using retinol products. I am aware that they should be used at night, but do the effects wear off by the morning in terms of sunlight or do you still need sunscreen after using at night. I read a lot about damaging the skin when using retinol that it makes me nervous to try. Hope that makes sense!! Hope you are well and staying safe xx
Miriam, I am not a aesthetician, so I would feel inadequate and ill-equiped to answer. I would consult your dermatologist or your facialist.
Hello Miriam, the retinol of today is much more gentle than it used to be. However, it should always be used with caution at first until your skin becomes accustomed to it. If you really cannot tolerate retinol, there is a natural alternative called bakuchiol which has become very popular.
The use of retinol (or any chemical exfoliant such as AHA’s/BHA’s) will make your skin more sensitive and it is therefore essential that a sunscreen be used every day without exception.
In fact, it is advisable to wear sunscreen every day in order to protect your skin even if you are not using retinol or acids. Wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and melanomas are all caused or exacerbated by sunlight. Luckily the formulas for sunscreens have much improved and are far more elegant than they used to be.
Vivien, Thank you very much for your expertise. 🙂
My dermatologist is a fan of La Roche Posay in general and their Ultra Light Facial Sunscreen in particular. Do you find it can stain collars? I have found this to be a challenge with some other brands.
Not at all. It is so light and feels quite similar to moisturizer. I think you will love it.
I have been using the bioderma lip balm since your originally recommended it and you are so right, it is absolutely perfect. I haven’t had an episode of super dry lips since I started using it. I wear it during the day under my lipstick and at night. Highly recommend it as well!
Stephanie, thank you very much for sharing f your experiences with it. I too am not constantly reapplying it which is what I needed. The fact is I live in a very dry climate and I have never needed this balm as frequently as I have reapplies others. 🙂
I know this is an older post but I just had to share a French beauty product I cannot live without (via Sharon Santoni so maybe you have tried it!!): https://www.mademoisellesaintgermain.com/products/serum-renaissance
Thank you very much for sharing. I will definitely take a look. 🙂