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5 French skincare secrets you need to know

From thermal water spray to a holistic approach, this is how the French get such enviable skin. By Prudence Wade.


(Alamy/PA)

There’s a reason the French look is held to the highest standard in beauty.


Everyone wants a piece of that effortlessly cool aesthetic, and French beauty products are some of the best in the world.


Dr Marine Vincent, founder of The French Pharmacy, notes the French approach favours “a more minimalistic and effortless look”.


She says: “French women lean towards a more natural aesthetic, prioritising a prevention-focused and holistic approach to beauty.



“French women value taking care of their skin as a form of self-care and overall wellbeing. They understand that healthy skin is a reflection of a healthy lifestyle.”


Plus, Vincent says “embracing your individuality and cultivating self-confidence are key elements of French beauty”.


If you want to get more of a Parisian glow, take a look at some of these French skincare secrets…


1. Adopt positive habits early on



“In French culture, skincare is indeed ingrained from a young age, and I believe it comes again from the wellbeing and holistic approach to beauty,” Vincent reflects. “We see it as part of our self-care, not as an option.”


She says she learned the “significance of using quality products” growing up, and her mother “taught me to cleanse, moisturise and protect my skin from an early age” – with her first moisturiser from classic French pharmacy brand Avène.


“Time has passed and I now gave the same advice to my 12-year-old daughter,” Vincent adds – now adding sunscreen into that list, which is “one of the most effective anti-ageing skincare tools”.


Part of forming these positive habits is consistency, which Vincent says is “key in skincare, as it helps to maintain the skin’s balance and prevents common issues such as acne or premature ageing, so starting early will allow you to establish good habits early on, making it easier to maintain them in the long-term”.


2. Use French pharmacy products



“If you’re looking for effective skincare without all the fancy marketing and high price tags, French pharmacy beauty products are definitely worth exploring,” says Vincent. “They’ve got a solid reputation for a reason.”


One of the reasons they’re so good is they “focus on simplicity”, Vincent suggests.


“French skincare brands often prioritise using key active ingredients that are known to work wonders for the skin. It’s all about delivering visible results without any fuss.”


Look out for brands like La Roche-Posay, Avène, Caudalie and Bioderma – helping you get science-based, effective products without breaking the bank.


(Bioderma/PA)

Bioderma Hydrabio Serum, £20, Escentual


(Caudalie/PA)

Caudalie Vinopure Moisturizing Mattifying Fluid, £25


3. Try endermologie



This secret is a bit pricier than pharmacy skincare products, but many French women swear by it.


Endermologie is a treatment where a therapist uses a machine with various settings on your body or face.


“It is very renowned for its amazing results, primarily on cellulite, sagging skin [and] body contouring,” suggests LPG Endermologie ambassador Nathalie Paradis.


She says it’s “powerful” in “increasing firmness, but at the same time very respectful of the skin, especially when it’s fragile”.


Endermologie isn’t quite a household name in the UK, but is much more prominent in France where there’s a more holistic approach to beauty. Paradis says: “We are facing a new era where beauty cannot be separated from health, and where people can benefit from this technology to reach their goals of wellbeing in an increasingly stressful environment.”


Becoming increasingly popular in UK salons, it can also be used to treat scars or scar tissue.


4. Get the ‘French touch’



Vincent says thermal water spray is the extra “French touch” you can add to your beauty bag and use “all year long”.


According to Vincent, some of the best uses of thermal water spray are before applying hyaluronic acid serums (you “need moisture to be effective”, she says), to “fix your make-up”, to refresh your face in summer and “to layer in between your skincare steps and add an extra layer of hydration”.


(Boots/PA)

Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin, £15.50, Boots


(Vichy/PA)

Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Spa Water, £9, Look Fantastic


5. Use a secret weapon


Is cica cream in your routine? This is the nickname for centella asiatica creams and “long before [it was a] TikTok trend, all French women have one in their beauty bag”, Vincent says.


According to Vincent, it’s useful for any skin irritation (cracked lips, burns, baby rashes, etc), dry areas (like elbows or knees), after sun, as a skin recovery mask and as a moisturiser.


(Boots/PA)

La Roche Posay Cicaplast Balm, £10, Boots


(Bioderma/PA)

Bioderma Cicabio Pommade – Repairing Ointment, £8, Escentual

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