Whenever I Go to Paris, I Stock Up on This Product—9 Dupes Available in the U.S.

For basically my entire life, Paris was number one on my bucket list of places to go. In October, I was finally able to make that dream a reality, and I went to Paris for a week. I saw the sights, I ate amazing food, I drank wine at cafés, and most importantly, I perused the aisles of French pharmacies.



French pharmacies are known for their skincare, and as a beauty editor, I was extremely excited to find a bunch of amazing skincare products that you can’t get stateside. After all, I’m obsessed with French-girl beauty. The French tend to embody a certain effortless type of beauty that I can’t get enough of, whether it’s perfectly undone hair or the blotted, just-been-kissed lipstick they’re known for.

For skincare, French products are known for being easily tolerated, packed with potent ingredients, and relatively inexpensive. The first skincare product on my list? Biafine, which I snagged pretty much as soon as I stepped off the plane.



What exactly is Biafine?

“Biafine is a topical emulsion containing trolamine and sodium alginate,” says Hadley King, an NYC dermatologist. “It promotes healing of damaged skin by recruiting macrophages. Its indications include superficial and full-thickness wounds, pressure sores, dermal ulcers, first- and second-degree burns, radiation dermatitis, and minor abrasions. It is often used after procedures on the face such as chemical peels and laser treatments to help with healing.” You can also use it for slugging or to solve dry skin. Basically, Biafine is a multi-use skincare superhero.

Why can’t I get Biafine in the United States?

While you can’t pick up Biafine from a corner store here like you can in France, it’s not entirely impossible to score in the United States—but you do need a prescription. “The FDA clearance was for wounds, ulcers, and radiation dermatitis,” says King. In the United States, you need a physician to diagnose those for you in order to get your hands on Biafine.

What can I get in the U.S. as a Biafine substitute?



I recently ran out of the tube of Biafine I brought back from Paris, and I was distraught. Until my next trip to France, I found some reliable dupes that I can get now. While there isn’t an exact dupe for Biafine—the product is pretty irreplaceable, after all—there are a few products out there that help yield similar results and are well worth your money.

From the Biafine brand, this hand cream employs cica to help restore and repair. "Cica is an antioxidant-rich herb that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine," says King. "It has been reported to be helpful for skin inflammation, burns, wounds, scars, ulcers, venous insufficiency, infection, post-surgical healing, and psoriasis. Studies have shown that the cica extract is an effective wound-healing agent and has also been documented to be effective in the treatment of keloids, phlebitis, cellulitis, slow-healing wounds, and stretch marks."

This is King's recommendation for those looking for Biafine-like benefits in the U.S. "Cica also has anti-inflammatory and highly moisturizing properties," she says of the superstar ingredient. "A 2016 study showed that cica significantly improves skin's hydration and reduces moisture loss. This makes it a great ingredient for anyone with dry, flaky skin. And because it speeds up wound healing and decreases inflammation, it's also a great ingredient for anyone with acne, eczema, or sensitive skin. It increases collagen production and improves skin firmness and elasticity, [so] it's a great anti-aging ingredient as well."

Another cica-rich cream from the Biafine brand, this one can be used all over your body to aid in intense skin healing. 

Embryolisse is a cult-favorite French skincare brand beloved by supermodels and beauty editors alike. This lightweight cream sinks instantly into skin and delivers tons of deep hydration thanks to powerhouse ingredients shea butter and squalane. 

Just like Biafine itself, this multitasking cream can be used pretty much anywhere on the body for irritated, dry skin. B5, shea butter, glycerin, and madecassoside, which is derived from cica, help heal and nourish skin. 

After a laser treatment, my doctor gave me this cream, and it is so soothing and moisturizing. It instantly calms inflammation and helps skin recover from any trauma by helping rebuild skin's lipid barrier with omega-3 fatty acids. 

Drunk Elephant's newest product is a moisturizing, skin-soothing balm packed with marula butter and meadowfoam oil. It helps soothe irritation and repair dry, chapped, and damaged skin. 

As far as healing salves go, nothing beats the classic. Vaseline helps seal in moisture and promotes skin-healing. 

If your skin is damaged or compromised, reach for this healing balm. It's formulated to be used post-laser, but you can use it on severely dry or irritated skin as well. 

Other French Pharmacy Products We're Obsessed With That You Can Buy Stateside

An eye cream perfect for puffiness and irritation. 

Spritz this on to feel instantly refreshed. 

Micellar water cleanses skin and gently removes makeup—all without stripping or drying.

This cream is every makeup artist's secret weapon. 

This moisturizer will soothe even the most sensitive skin. 

Every French girl's secret to ridiculously plush lips. 

Pretty much as close to prescription retinol as you can get without a prescription. 

A multipurpose oil that can be used on hair, face, and body.