French Girls Swear By These 13 Brands for Amazing Skin

There's an undeniable allure about the beauty and style choices of French women, from their chic trademark fringes to their classic wardrobe basics. For me, though, there's one specific area that I feel they've consistently excelled in more than most: skincare. Yes, French girls have seriously amazing skin, and it's down to the array of hard-working skincare brands that they have access to.

Over the years, I've lost count of the number of industry-approved makeup removers and celebrity-beloved face oils that have been exported from France. Trust me—if it's cult skincare products that you're looking for, then French pharmacy brands are the best place to start. Luckily, many of these historic brands are now available on British soil, which means that French-girl glow has never been more achievable.

Ahead, keep scrolling for the 13 skincare brands that French girls genuinely swear by for amazing skin (and to shop the best sellers from their cult collections).

1. Nuxe


(Image credit: @SABINASOCOL)

Kicking things off with one of my favourite French skincare brands, Nuxe. It was founded back in 1989 (incidentally, my year of birth) and reached cult status just two years later with the launch of its now-iconic Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil (£30). French pharmacy brands often have a reputation for being basic but effective formulas, but Nuxe, in my opinion, is all about luxury and indulgence. All of the products are formulated to pamper both the skin and the senses and are infused with Nuxe's trademark orange blossom fragrance. 

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2. Bioderma


(Image credit: @CLAIRE_MOST)

What would a French-skincare feature be without Bioderma? The brand's micellar water is possibly one of the most famous skincare exports from France, with makeup artists and celebrities raving about it years before it was available here in the UK. In fact, Bioderma has been creating science-led formulas for hair and skin since the '70s, but when its micellar solution launched in the '90s, the brand went from French-girl secret to global success.

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3. La Roche-Posay


(Image credit: @FRANNFYNE)

Another science-backed French skincare brand from the '70s, La Roche-Posay is a brand that I always come back to when I'm dealing with breakouts and I need gentle, effective products that I know will work. The brand prides itself on partnering with dermatologists to create formulations that work, and all of the products are non-comedogenic (meaning that they won't clog pores) and tested on sensitive skin. Plus, the fact that I was actually recommended this brand by a dermatologist during a particularly bad bout of hormonal acne testifies to how trusted it is within the industry.

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4. Caudalie


(Image credit: @SLIPINTOSTYLE)

Alongside their impeccable taste in beauty and fashion, the French are famous for something else: wine. And although Caudalie isn't a brand that bottles vino, it does take inspiration from the same key ingredient, grapes. Founded in 1995 by a husband-and-wife duo, Caudalie is one of the first French skincare brands that I remember getting into. In fact, I have vivid memories of trawling Parisian pharmacies to get my hands on the cult Beauty Elixir (£28) after beauty insiders raved about its glow-giving skin benefits.

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5. Vichy Laboratoires


(Image credit: @AUDE_JULIE)

Founded in 1931 by Prosper Haller, Vichy Laboratoires has been creating cult French skincare products from the volcanic region of Auvergne for decades. The brand uses mineral water from the nearby springs as the basis for its formulations thanks to its natural ability to reinforce the skin's natural defences. Plus, the brand works with the best dermatologists and allergy experts to ensure that all products are suitable for even the most sensitive complexions. 

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6. Avène


(Image credit: @VIKILEFEVRE)

Named after the region of France in which it was founded, Avène has a unique origin. The story goes that a horse with troubled skin was cured after drinking and swimming in a thermal spring in Avène way back in the 1700s. Rumour or not, it became the place for a dermatological facility where patients would come to be cured of various skin ailments with this magical spring water. In 1990, Avène as we know it was born—using the same water as the key ingredient in its French skincare products.

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7. Embryolisse


(Image credit: @ANNELAUREMAIS)

Embryolisse was actually created in a Parisian hospital in 1950 as a way to hydrate and care for patients' skin. It was then introduced to French pharmacies, where the country took the multipurpose lotion to its hearts, and subsequently, the word spread. This basic moisturiser is now loved by A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow as well as French girls and our fashion friends.

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8. SVR Laboratories 



Founded in 1962, long before some of the other well-known French pharmacy brands, SVR was created by two pharmacists to cater specifically to those with sensitive skin. It was one of the original brands to come at skincare from a scientific, pharmaceutical angle, and it's truly amazing. If you struggle with sensitive skin, I urge you to try out some of its products, most notably the suncare. Whereas some SPF formulas have a tendency to irritate sensitive skin, SVR has a way of creating sun creams that feel like a second skin.

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9. L'Occitane


(Image credit: @LENAFARL)

Unlike French pharmacy brands, L'Occitane (which is pronounced lock-see-tan) is a heritage French skincare brand that champions natural ingredients. While the brand is known for producing some of the best bath and body products around, its skincare is also not to be missed. It has a limited offering, but every single facial skincare product in its line-up is adored by beauty lovers all over the world.

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10. Clarins


(Image credit: @RUERODIER)

You'd be forgiven if you thought Clarins was little more than a beauty conglomerate that simply capitalised off its French heritage. (It is perhaps one of the most iconic beauty brands in the world, after all.) However, Clarins is actually a family-run business that was founded in Paris in the 1950s. Combining the power of plant extracts with impressive scientific research, Clarins products bring together the two most important French skincare needs: It's luxurious to apply, and it really does work.

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11. Koba Skincare


(Image credit: @erinoffduty)

New kid on the block Koba Skincare is one of the most interesting new French skincare brands to have crossed the channel in a while. Koba (nkóbá)—which translates to "turtle” in Lingala—nods to founder Thérèse M'Boungoubaya's Congolese heritage in both name and via the brand's hero ingredient: Safou oil. The oil is packed full of fatty acids and actives like antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, all of which work to naturally improving its texture and elasticity by making it smoother. So, whether you're in need of a dry lip saviour or soothing hand cream, I for one now now always keep something from Koba to hand.

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12. Typology Skin 


(Image credit: @annelauremais)

With so many skincare options on the market right now, shopping for new products can often feel oversaturated and overwhelming. There is just so much out there that deciphering extensive ingredient lists and finding the right product for your skin can become a full-time job. Typology, however, has fast become the exception to the rule. Born in Paris, Typology is the epitome of chic French minimalism. Thanks to its brown-hued bottles reminiscent of vintage pharmaceutical products and all feature an easy-to-navigate active ingredient lists on the front. It's easy to see why it's French-girl approved... 

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13. Gatineau 


(Image credit: @emmanuellekoffi)

Gatineau is a firm beauty-drawer favourite amongst French girls thanks to its straightforward approach to skincare. The first beauty house in the world to develop an exfoliator and alcohol-free cleanser and tones, the brand is a pioneer in anticipating the needs of women and their skin. Today, Gatineau is still loved for its cleansers and make-up removers, as well as high-performing oils and gels. 

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This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

Next Up: The Classic Makeup Products That Over-50 French Women Swear By

Mica Ricketts