French Pharmacy Picks – Part 2

March 15, 2012

In January, I gave you a report on some of the items I’ve tried on Gwyneth Paltrow’s French Pharmacy List. Are you ready for installment number 2? First up, let’s talk about:

I love how this feels on my face! It’s actually intended for minor burns and rashes, but those in the know use it as a beauty product too. In fact, look what I read here: Sylvie Tellier, a former Miss France who now runs the Miss France competition, uses Biafine as a face mask. “I love it,” she says. “It makes my skin glow and is really hydrating.” It’s a bargain for a big tube — about $10.

Note: The tube I purchased looks different than the one on Gwyneth’s list, but I was told it was the exact same formula; only the packaging had been updated.

Avène Eau Thermale Water Spray
This sounded kind of hokey to me (a soothing water spray? how about water!), but it turns out I really like it. Gwyneth mentions makeup artists use it to keep makeup in place, and I like it for the same reason. But I’ve also tried it when I’m feeling overheated or stressed, and it’s calming and quite lovely. If you live somewhere HOT, I’ll bet you would especially like this product. Find it on Amazon here.

This feels like a more refined vaseline. It’s made for skin irritations — especially chapped noses — and it works remarkably well. One friend told me that she uses it for cuts and abrasions. She rubs some on the skin before adding a band-aid, and the skin heals twice as fast.

I like it on chapped knuckles, and I find myself reaching for it as a hand cream sometimes. It’s not too heavy, not too light. I can’t find a U.S. site that sells it, but here’s a UK shop.

Cica Biafine Hand Cream
Extra Bonus! This isn’t on Gwyneth’s list, but I like Biafine so much, I decided to try their hand cream. It has a wonderful scent and has been perfect for my winter-damaged hands. You can find it here.

Well, what do you think? Is there one of these that looks particularly appealing to you? Have you tried any of these products already? Please do share!

P.S. — Find part one of this series here.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vera March 15, 2012 at 5:50 am

I liked your first post on these products, and appreciate this one too! Thanks :)


2 Maria @ Busy as a Bee in Paris March 15, 2012 at 6:19 am

love the homéoplasmine, can’t live without it now! it heals up booboos in record time and even has a soothing quality, me too i use it on chapped knuckles.


3 Design Mom March 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

Glad to hear you’re a fan!


4 Patti March 15, 2012 at 6:46 am

Testé et approuvé!


5 Tara J Hannon March 15, 2012 at 7:21 am

Love this tip! Guess Ill head to France now to try it out :) Oh if only I could! Thanks for the cool change in perspective…


6 The New Diplomats Wife March 15, 2012 at 7:23 am

definitely will pick up the biafine on the next jaunt to paris for a try – am a big fan of the water spray, but full disclosure, i my go to is usually vichy (they also make the best face lotions through their aqualia thermal line, the “24 hour legere” – i have to order it now in the US at twice the price) you can get the water spray in trial sized bottles which are excellent for transatlantic flights – a little before take off and a little before landing – makes a huge difference.


7 Design Mom March 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

I’ve heard great things about the Vichy line but have never tried it. Sounds like I need to!


8 Lindsey March 15, 2012 at 7:46 am

The Bioderma Crealine H2O is fantastic, a must try! It’s the most gentle and effective makeup remover. Follow it with your normal facewash and your skin will feel completely clean and fresh. And Cica Biafine has and excellent lip chap. Well worth stocking-up on.


9 Design Mom March 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

I can’t wait to try it! Hopefully for the 3rd installment.


10 Alexis Garrett March 15, 2012 at 8:16 am

I love all things French so I know that I will love these little goodies too… I really want to try Biafine… fun! LOVE the post… ox


11 Heather March 15, 2012 at 8:30 am

Oooh! I love beauty products from across the globe, some of my very favorite are from Japan though – have you ever seen a mature Japanese woman with bad skin? No, they take great care of it.

Becoming Heather


12 Sharon @ Discovering March 15, 2012 at 8:34 am

Oooo! I think I would go a bit nuts if I ever found myself in a French pharmacy!
Top on my list would be homéoplasmine, especially after this winter and all of the chapped little noses in my house, and dried out hands.


13 French at Heart March 15, 2012 at 10:33 am

I love these posts about French pharmacies! They are some of my favorite spots in Paris [ as well as grocery stores]. The pharmacies smell wonderful and the clerks are so knowledgeable. I won’t be there again until July, but you’ve given me wonderful ideas for the Welcome Totes for our guests!


14 Design Mom March 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

It’s true! The pharmacists are so helpful.


15 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag March 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Oh my goodness, I guess it’s a good thing I do not live in France because I think I would be buying french beauty products ALL THE TIME!

Avene is a lovely line, I’ve used various Avene products on my sensitive-extreme-plus skin with great results…..


16 Barchbo March 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I highly recommend the water spray for the plane! I have a travel size Evian one that I hoard just for airplane use. Keeps my skin hydrated in the altitude.


17 Kate March 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

When we went to France last spring I somehow ended up with a terrible rash on my chin and lower face as soon as we got off the plane. I still have no idea what it was from, but any moisturizer I put on it just made it worse. I remembered the post from Gwyneth’s site and on a whim decided to get the Homeoplasmine at the pharmacy. I don’t know what is so magical about it, but it cleared that rash up almost entirely overnight and I have used it on all sorts of skin irritations since then. The stuff is awesome and I really wish they sold it in the US!


18 Design Mom March 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

What a story, Kate! So glad the rash cleared up right away.


19 Jeanne March 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Lovely! And the packaging makes the products even better. Why is everything more romantic in French?


20 Cherri Porter March 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm
21 Design Mom March 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thank you, Cherri!


22 Sharon Fischel March 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I spilled boiling hot tea all over my upper thighs a few years back. I had huge burns and blisters and a ton of pain. I am lucky I missed the super tender parts. The dr. in a drop- in clinic I saw basically said there was nothing to do about it other than pain management, but when I saw my dermatologist, she gave me samples of Biafine. I could NOT believe how fast my burn started to heal. It was absolutely astounding. I’m not sure where she got it (we’re in CA) but I would buy it for just about any amount. Going to get some before our upcoming HI vacation! Great on sunburns, too, even tho we try *not* to get those.


23 Amanda March 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm

We just got home from Paris (last night!) and I remembered to pick up some of the Nuxe while I was there… I should probably go back and get the water spray :)


24 Design Mom March 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

I hope you had a wonderful trip, Amanda!


25 Christine March 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Biafine is available in the US, but it’s a prescription product. So, you can order it from your pharmacy but you’ll need a script. That’s likely how Sharon’s doc got her samples. Usually derms and plastic surgeons have it, it’s come up as something to maybe use on occasion with my patients since we’re a burn unit. I didn’t know that it was OTC in France! I need to head back, I’m bringing your list with me!


26 Design Mom March 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

Good to know!


27 Tan March 16, 2012 at 1:32 am

I’ve used that water spray for quite some time now and it’s lovely. I especially enjoy it when I’m stressed out. Like you said, it’s so relaxing!


28 Alexandra March 16, 2012 at 6:57 am

Hello Gabrielle,
I live in Italy with my husband and 2 boys and every summer we get an Avène water spray. I had the same feeling as you (why should I buy a spray when I can get a bottle of Avène mineral water at a tenth of the price) but once we have tried it on our new born babies, we keep on using them. A quick spray of chilly water all over head and face is all we need during hot Italian summers.
Thank you for all the suggestions you have on your website


29 Livi March 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

This is so true! I am obsessed with Avene products. I know you can get them in NYC at the Duane Read. I love the the face water spray. As a pale pale Irish girl it is perfect for my sensitive skin in the summer.


30 Lucia April 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

Love these posts since pharmacies and grocery stores are always must- see destinations whenever we travel. Have any favorite European sunscreens to share? I have been using La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL melt-in cream since our trip to Paris, it is great for sensitive skin, but would love to hear more suggestions. I wish I had gotten the fluid version, too…kicking myself because I saw it in Barcelona and kept meaning to dash back into the pharmacy to grab some. Do you have a favorite sunscreen to recommend?


31 Celia May 13, 2012 at 11:35 am

Biafine works really well as a face mask! I was soo curious to try it but my doctor knew nothing abt this cream..I did some research, found it on wonder the French have such great skin! Within a week enlarged pores seemed a thing of the past, and my lips look much more defined. 5 stars!


32 lissasioux May 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm

what would you say are the main differences between the homeoplasine and the biofine? some of these products i’m sure can overlap (i use Avene Cicalfate and La Roche Posay’s Cicaplast as healers) but just was wondering so i can justify each in my head ;)


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