Everyone knows that the French, particularly Parisians, are especially discerning when it comes to quality skincare. One thing you may not know, however, is that the BEST skincare shopping is not necessarily done in the high-end department stores - it is in the "pharmacie" stores located on every street corner in Paris.
One pharmacie in particular, City Pharma, is well known for having the absolute best selection - in quantity, variety, and price. So, obviously, I had to go!
I did a little bit of research before I went, because I knew that it would be overwhelming trying to navigate the plethora of products (with French labels, no less!) I took screen shots of everything I was interested in buying, for easy visual shopping.
When I entered the store, I was greeted by a security guard, who directed me towards the shopping baskets (I'm sure because he knew why I was there - LOL). There were also several cute little ladies buzzing around the store in white lab coats branded with the City Pharma logo on them. They were obviously the sales associates I had read about. They were VERY good at their job - more on that later.
Immediately facing me at the front of the store, on the endcap of an aisle, was a large display of the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, in various sizes & iterations of the product. As I looked through the different variations, my eye caught the beautiful NUXE HUILE PRODIGIEUSE Or (which translates to English as "NUXE PRODIGIOUS OIL Gold"). I had read amazing reviews on this product, so I grabbed the 100mL glass bottle.
Soon after that, one of those sales associates I mentioned, a brunette lady who looked to be about late 50's-early 60's, approached me and asked if I needed any help. After saying "oui" and "Parlez-vous Anglais?" She said she spoke a little, and that she could help me. I told her I was a makeup professional visiting from America and I was interested in some skincare.
She immediately took me over to the Nuxe display, where all of their product line was available for purchasing. The first thing she showed me was the NUXE CRÈME PRODIGIEUSE BOOST Base Lissante Multi-Perfection 5-en-1 makeup primer. The English translation for this product is "NUXE CREAM PRODIGIOUS BOOST 5-in-1 Multi-Perfection Smoothing Primer" and the main benefits are that it is a smoothing & anti-aging primer for makeup, using Hyaluronic Acid & Jasmine Flower. She sampled it for me on the back of my hand and I immediately added it to my bag.
What I loved about it was that it gave my skin a smoother appearance without the heavy silicone feel & slip of a lot of makeup primers. I am not a frequent primer user on my clients, becuase I believe that proper prep through skincare products is the best type of "primer" for makeup, but she sold me on this!
Next, she had me try the NUXE SUPER SERUM  Le Concentré Anti-Age Universel which translates in English to "The Universal Anti-Aging Concentrate." The unique thing about this product is the fact that it has micro beads of fractionated oil suspended in the serum. What that means is, as soon as you dispense the product into your hands and begin to massage it into your skin, those beads break up and meld together with the serum, creating a beautiful blend of both a water and oil based hydration.
As soon as I sampled this on the back of my hand, again, I KNEW I HAD TO HAVE THIS PRODUCT! In fact, it has been over a month of daily use on myself, and I am KICKING myself that I didn't buy 5 (yes I'm serious). In fact, I loved it so much from that first sampling, that I used it to prep my model's skin for the bridal shoot I did the next day.
Opposite the Nuxe product display was an entire section for Caudalie (of course). That was one of the main brands I wanted to peruse, so I turned my attention to that. I thanked the sales associate for her time, and told her I would find her if I needed anything else.
Caudalie has a large product line, which I have tried many things from over the years, but ultimately I settled on the Eau de Raisin spray and a Hand Cream + Lip Conditioner set they had available for the holidays. I am a sucker for a good lip conditioning product, so I wanted to try theirs.
Bioderma is another brand that everyone raves about, particularly their Crealine product line. I picked up a couple of bottles of the 100mL Bioderma Crealine H2O Micellar Solution and a pack of their Crealine H2O Cleansing wipes to try.
I have always been a big fan of the Kirkland brand makeup wipes, but recently learned that traditional makeup removal wipes leave a residue of a solvent used to remove the makeup that can cause makeup layered on top of it to break down over time. I was using makeup wipes prior to makeup application, so obviously I was looking for a change in that department so I purchased this product to use with a cotton pad.
Lastly from Bioderma, I purchased their Sebium Mat Control Moisturizer, which is a mattifying moisturizer I had heard so many good things about. I have since had the opportunity to use this on clients and I am thrilled with the results. Will definitely be getting more in the future!
One thing I had read about was the quality of retinol in most French skincare. So, that was one of the main things I was in search for during my visit to City Pharma. After finding the same sales associate that helped me earlier, in broken French-English combo, I explained what I was wanting, and she led me to the ACM Laboratorie Dermatologique Duolys.A Serum Intensif Anti-Rides, which translates to English as "Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Serum".
I have been absolutely loving this product because it delivers a Retinol + Vitamin E blend via a lightweight oil that absorbs quickly and is a great addition to the evening skincare routine. I'll admit, I have been using the Nuxe Super Serum more religiously than this one, but I do feel like my skin is brighter and more firm in the morning after its' use.
After saying "Au Revior" to the sales associate again, I finished up my shopping by snagging some other cult favorites such as the Klorane Dry Sampoo, Biafine Emulsion, & Weleda Skin Food. I also restocked my beloved Biotherm Buerre de Levres (which has been in my kit since my last Paris visit in 2017), and bought a couple of the small cans of Avene Eau Thermale spray for my kit.
All in all, I spent about an hour and a half in there, and checkout was a breeze. A very nice English speaking sales associate helped me through the VAT refund process at checkout, and I received a VAT refund of $28.42 after a few weeks back on my Credit Card (they even let me check out in USD vs. Euro - USD total for the whole purchase was $259.01, so the VAT refund was right at 11%). Don't forget to drop off your form at the kiosk at the airport though!
Here is the full list of items I purchased at City Pharma (along with the price I paid in store, compared to the retail price in the US - at the time of my visit, the exchange rate was $1.12 to €1):
NUXE RÊVE DE MIEL Gommage Gourmand Nourrissant Corps (175ml) - €14.89 ($32)
NUXE HUILE PRODIGIEUSE Or (100mL) - €20.99 ($51)
NUXE SUPER SERUM  Le Concentré Anti-Age Universel - €55.99 ($90)
NUXE CRÈME PRODIGIEUSE BOOST Base Lissante Multi-Perfection 5-en-1(makeup primer) - €16.89 ($36)
Caudalie Eau de Raisin spray 75mL - €5.49 ($10)
Caudalie Hand Cream + Lip Conditioner Set - €3.59 (*not sold in US* $17 = $12 lip + $5 cream)
Bioderma Sebium Mat Control Moisturizer - €8.79 ($19.99)
Bioderma Crealine H2O Micellar Solution (100mL) - €2.79 ($9.99)
Bioderma Crealine Cleansing Wipes (25 pack) - €4.99 ($8.99)
CERAVE Huile Lavante Moussante Hydratante (236ml) - €7.49 (*not sold in US*)
Biafine Emulsion - €3.94 ($22.90 - wow)
Biotherm Buerre de Levres - €4.89 ($15.75)
ACM Laboratorie Dermatologique Duolys.A Serum Intensif Anti-Rides 30mL - €27.89 (*not sold in US*)
Weleda Skin Food (30mL) - €8.38 ($12.49)
Collagena Hydrating Lip Patches - €2.50 (*not sold in US*)
L'Action Under Eye Patches (pack of 6 pairs) - €4.99 (*not sold in US*)
Klorane Dry Sampoo (1oz) - €3.99 ($10)
Avene Eau Thermale spray (1.7oz) - €2.87 ($9)
That comes to a total of €201.35 (€179.20 after 11% VAT refund). The US total is $345.11 WITHOUT 4 items that are not sold in the US that I couldn't nail down a USD retail price for. Removing those 4 products from the Euro amount, and adjusting for the exchange rate, I saved a whopping $187, or 54%!!! That is definitely not enough to cover the trip over there (LOL - wish it was!) BUT it makes a case for doing some skincare shopping at City Pharma during your next trip to Paris.
Side note: I also highly recommend checking out the area around City Pharma - which is in the Saint Germain area of Paris. This was an area of the city I had never visited before, and I absolutely fell in love with the vibe there. More on that at a later time!