Bonjour mes petits amis avec les yeux. Welcome back to Part Deux of the Paris posts. This has been a bit delayed for various reasons but also because I wanted to have actually used some of the products before writing about them. After all a pretty description of the packaging next to a photo of each product is useless and patronising.

Beginning the story back in Paris means going back to a sunny Monday morning, strolling the streets of the city post-breakfast, heading for the corner of Rue de Four to battle the masses at the infamous City Pharma. This particular pharmacy is a Mecca for beauty bloggers and fanatics alike purely because they buy in bulk which enables them to sell a wider range of products at a much lower price. City Pharma is the place to hit up if you have a shopping list of French pharmacy products because it’s one of few places you can guarantee you’re going to find every product in stock and at the best possible price. The shop itself however is a nightmare. It’s tiny, cramped and busy. The aisles are too close together, to fit more in obviously, and there are SO many people trying to get around with their massive baskets. There are pharmacists on each aisle ready to help you, assess your skin type, determine which products may be best for your skin, but my advice would be to dodge them, politely decline their advances (in your best French) and grab what you need and get back outside. It would be best to make a list if you know exactly what you want. Consider leaving your boyfriend or husband in a nearby café or outside the shop with all the other boyfriends and husbands (although mine was a very patient/grumpy basket carrying gent). My final tip is to go early. Don’t leave it till lunchtime or it’ll be even busier. If that’s possible.

I went a bit mad in City Pharma but then, I had planned to. I knew I wanted enough stock to last until my next trip to Paris and, while Fenwick and Boots stock a lot of the same products, you’ll pay a much higher price for the convenience. I spent roughly €100 and when I stepped back into the daylight I experienced a mild stab of buyers remorse. Did I really just spend 100 quid on moisturiser? But that actually faded pretty quick as soon as I got home and began using the products. (Comparing it all to how much I would’ve spent in a UK department store also helped ease the pain!)
French skincare is widely renowned to be among the best and simplest products in the world, for good reason, and I *had* planned this splurge with money I’d already earmarked for this kind of spending as soon as I found out we were off to Paris. If you’re not planning a trip to France you’ll be pleased to know that Escentual are currently offering a 1/3 of French Skincare products until the end of March.

20140323-053541 pm.jpgI’ve grouped these photos by brand, which seemed the easiest and more aesthetically pleasing way to do it. Beginning with one of the most famous French brands, Bioderma. I’m no stranger to the Solution Micellaire as I’ve been using it for a long time now but a trip to City Pharma is the best place to stock up as they do these multi packs of the classic 500ml bottle for €15.90. It IS as good as they say and I can honestly say I’ve never needed to use another cleanser. It’s fast, it has no fragrance, it doesn’t bother my skin and it’s cheap, if you can get it in France! Keep an eye out for the flat pump-top bottles if you can as they’re worth their weight in gold. I just top mine up from the regular bottles. I also branched out a smidge and picked up some Bioderma Hydrabio Riche for €12.50 which meant I got the Brume Eau for free. Score. The Hydrabio has been getting some cracking reviews online for a while and, although I was a little worried it’d be heavy, the rich formula is really light on the skin and absorbs easily. The free spray feels nice but I’ve not noticed it having any other effects. I’ll pack it next time I’m off to Dubai and maybe I’ll appreciate it more there but right now I’m glad I didn’t pay for it.
20140323-053529 pm.jpgLa Roche Posay is one of my personal favourite skincare brands. The Effaclar Duo + does wonders for my skin. I use it morning and night under a moisturiser and, while I’m using it, my skin stays clear. It’s not that I’m battling against breakouts, I just don’t seem to get any. I also picked up the Effaclar AI Targeted Breakout Corrector just incase. I’ve been so impressed with the Duo + that I figured any of their similar products would be equally good and, because I’ve not used the Duo + for a while it can take a few weeks so get it working again at maximum capacity so the Corrector should do the job in the meantime. It says to “Apply locally until imperfections disappear” but it turns out is a bit addictive. The tiny spot I had has gone but I’m still applying it to the area anyway. Just in case. I might stop that now.

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All of these Vichy products were new to me. I’ve used the Vichy Dermablend for ages and loved it but their products are so expensive in Boots whereas in City Pharma I picked up the Aqualia Thermal Crème moisturiser for €14.90. I normally prefer face creams to have a pump top ‘cos it’s more hygienic but to be honest I really wanted a big, weighty glass tub of something semi-fancy too. This fits the bill. It smells a bit like face cream which I’m not enjoying but then again, it IS face cream so I’ll forgive that. It absorbs nicely and I went for the ‘light’ pot so it’ll be useful for days when my skin isn’t dry enough for the Riche Bioderma cream. The deodorant was a bit of an afterthought as I just really needed a new one and figured I may aswell pick up one at City Pharma while I was here. I’m glad I did because I LOVE the scent of this one. Bit weird but true. I haven’t noticed my er… underarm skin being any different but it smells nice.

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Next up the Caudalíe aisle. This post is getting long and waffley so I’ll cut these shorter. I was quite excited to hit the Caudalíe stuff because it’s a brand I generally love but it’s actually still pretty pricey, even over there. The face creams and whatnot were roughly double the cost of some of the other brands I picked up. That said I couldn’t leave without snaffling myself a big luxurious bottle of Divine Oil (€18.99) and a pack of three of the lipbalms (€6.90). These are great for dropping in your handbag and have an excellent smooth texture that lasts for hours. The three pack is amazing value for money because in the UK you’ll pay around £5.50 for a single one.

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I had a bit of a falling out with Nuxe last year when I tried their oil cleanser for the first time, broke out in about a bazillion spots and hated the stuff immediately. I know everyone raves about it but I just cant get away with using an oil to clean my face. It just seems counterproductive and, clearly, my skin doesn’t like it. Therefore I was a little apprehensive about splurging on Nuxe products but my sister had asked me to grab her a Rêve de Miel and, as discussed previously, I’m a sucker for anything in a dinky glass jar. I figured that lipbalm couldn’t make me spotty or be too greasy so I dropped two into my basket. Now I wish I’d bought loads. One each for all of my friends with lips. It’s hands down the best lip moisturiser I’ve ever used. It smells so delicately delicious and the packaging is lovely. The balm is thick and smooth and coats your lips for yonks. It’s especially good as an overnight treatment as it doesn’t budge all night so you wake up with the world’s softest lips. Bravo Nuxe, I’m a convert. The eye cream was a panic buy. I wanted a new eye cream and this was pretty cheap and looked good. It’s sometimes as simple as that. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and not noticed any miracles but then neither have I suddenly started looking like I’m 80. Bonus. One thing I will say for it is that it’s quite thick so a little goes a long way. It’s going to last me much longer than the Balance Me one.
I’m not doing a very good job of waffling less so you’ll just have to read faster.

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This was not a City Pharma purchase, but rather a Galeries Lafayette treat. The handsome man who’s responsible for this trip purchased himself a new bottle of man perfume from the Givenchy counter and, in a post-Angelina’s hot chocolate stupor, he must’ve been all giddy and casually asked “Did you want anything while I’m paying?”. ER… yes? This. Actually no, this. No, wait, this. Happily, that last ‘this’ was a bottle of nail polish in a beautiful dark blood red. A classic choice. One I’ve been especially pleased with when I discovered that Givenchy make The Best Brushes Ever, making faultless application a breeze. The polish dries extremely shiny and takes ages to chip. Smashing effort all round.

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Finally this wasn’t even technically purchased in France. This was my NCL airport treat. I’d quite fancied trying one of the YSL Rouge Volupté lipsticks for a while and killing time Duty Free seemed the perfect opportunity. I love the dark shade, even though I’m sure we’re probably supposed to be transitioning into ‘spring colours’ now. The reluctant goth in me doesn’t wear pinks so I’ll be sticking with this, or bare lips, thanks. The longevity isn’t great because it’s ultra moist but it’s in such gilded and decadent packaging that you don’t really mind getting it out of your clutch to reapply it every two seconds.

So basically I went to France for a few days, shopped up a storm, spent piles of dosh, ate mountains of food, drooled over every pâtisserie window and guzzled several bottles of nice vin rouge. (Not counting the ones we brought back in our suitcase.) Mission accomplished. Because really, if not shopping, skincare, food and wine, what are weekends in Paris even for?

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