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From glowing skin to tousled hair and effortlessly undone makeup looks, a French beauty routine is one of the coveted in the world. And while French women tend to possess a certain je ne sais quoi that’s by definition hard to imitate, we can at least get our hands on their homegrown cult classic beauty products. While many are unsurprisingly from established French luxury houses, recent years have also seen a new wave of affordable cult classics hailing from the aisles of humble pharmacies.


Here, we round up a high-low mix of our top seven French beauty products, each of whose cult following reaches far beyond French borders – and each of which you don’t need to jump on a plane to make yours.


1. Bioderma Créaline H2O


With a bottle of Bioderma Créaline H2O (rebranded in some places to Sensibio) sold every three seconds, we can see why a wave of competing beauty brands have scrambled to replicate it. The original still remains the best: Removing makeup and dirt instantly, while remaining gentle enough for every skin type, the water’s unique physiologic pH makes for superb chemical and microbiological purity without having to rinse – simply soak a cotton pad sweep over the face.

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2 Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream


Arguably the world’s most luxurious face cream, and the standard as to which every other moisturiser is held. What makes it so special? It’s spiked with the brand’s signature Miracle Broth, which took 12 years and 6,000 experiments to create. The broth, made with nutrient-rich sea kelp and other natural ingredients, is incomparable at renewing and hydrating skin.

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3. Avène Thermal Spring Water


Avène Thermal Spring Water spray is a simple product with a million uses: from setting makeup to calming irritated skin or cooling down after a workout, this refreshing soothing spray does the trick. The formula is a mixture of pure rainwater and sea-spray rich in mineral salts, mixed with an ancient microorganism called Aqua.Dolomiae. The water is released completely intact, meaning each spritz is just as pure as if you were drawing it directly from a spring. A bottle is sold every two seconds worldwide.

Image by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

4. Yves Saint Laurent Touché Éclat Radiant Touch Concealer


There’s a good chance you’ll recognise the signature gold packaging of this cult beauty stick at a glance. Yves Saint Laurent’s Touché Éclat Radiant Touch pen arrived on the scene years before highlighter was considered a makeup staple, and while there have been a million illuminator-concealer hybrids released since, the original still reigns supreme thanks to dispensing just the right amount of luminosity. Use under eyes, on the bridge of your nose, and cheeks. Voilà!

5. La Roche-Posay sunscreen


The entire La Roche-Posay collection is praised for its affordable prices and high effectiveness (it’s recommended by more than 25,000 dermatologists worldwide), making the cultiest product in their extensive range debatable. Our pick is the sunscreen: thanks to a smooth texture that blends with total ease (no piling here) applying makeup afterwards is a dream. Plus, no ghost-like white residue in sight.

Image by Tim Knox

6. Chanel No. 5


Is there any more legendary beauty product in the world than Chanel No. 5? Famously worn to bed by Marilyn Monroe, the powdery floral scent (cue notes of May Rose, Jasmine and Vanilla) is as cult as they come. Synonymous with sophistication and luxury, the iconic 97-year-old fragrance is still one of the top-selling scents of today.

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7. L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream


Another top seller (a tube is sold every 3 seconds), this super-creamy balm is enriched with shea butter, honey, almond and coconut oil to protect, moisturise and replenish dehydrated hands. A floral-scented star product from L’Occitane and a Parisian women’s staple, these legendary little tubes leave no leftover oil traces. Magnifique!

Image courtesy of Freeios7.com

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