IF you’ve ever been tempted into a French pharmacy by the flashing green cross above the door, you’ll know that they’re a treasure trove of prettily-packaged beauty treats and mysterious medicinal products.
For years, clandestine discoveries made in Parisian chemists were swapped and shared by tourists and gradually gained a fanatical following among beauty aficionados.
But now, thanks largely to the explosion of the beauty blogger scene, the secret’s out — retailers have cottoned on and these cult cosmetics are now more easily available online or on our shelves.
And not just the French ones, either. From Swedish hair care to Spanish soap, and a German cream to treat your toes, these are the Euro stars to get acquainted with...
FEED YOUR SKIN
Every bodycare product from German brand Weleda is certified 100% natural, with no synthetics or additives whatsoever. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. Alexa Chung is a big fan of Skin Food, the rich, fresh-scented cream that goes to work on your parched patches.
RAISE THE BAR
Hailing from the swanky spa town of La Toja, this ink-black ‘beauty soap’ has been popular in its native Spain since it was created in the Fifties. The formulation means it will lather up in even the hardest water, releasing the signature Magno scent.
A Swedish hair brand that’s hugely popular in America, Sachajuan is enjoying a growing profile in Europe. The supremely nourishing Hair Repair promotes cell regeneration and leaves your locks looking and feeling stronger. Plus, you only need to use it a couple of times a week.
THE SENSIBLE CHOICE
Formerly known as Crealine, Bioderma’s Micelle cleanser has made the leap from French pharmacy secret to cult favourite among bloggers, models and make-up artists. With no alcohol or fragrance, it’s well-suited to even the most sensitive skin, removing every last trace of make-up.
With all the sunshine those islands enjoy, it’s no wonder Greece is home to an unbeatable sun protection brand. FrezyDerm products are light, non-greasy and start at a minimum of SPF 20. For year-round anti-ageing protection, use the 50+ Tinted Face Cream, instead of foundation.
Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre, a moisturising lotion, also happens to be an excellent primer, which is why it’s favoured by make-up artists backstage at the catwalk shows. Another product that used to be brought back from Paris.
Nothing to do with the Icelandic singer, Bjork And Berries is a company that uses natural and organic products — Bjork means birch — from its native Sweden.
The White Forest Hand Cream and Handwash are 98% natural and leave a deeply comforting fragrance lingering on your hands.
When Thalgo’s algae-filled Thalassobath was discontinued, bathers the world over sighed with disappointment. The next best thing? The French marine beauty brand’s Micronized Marine Algae. One sachet of this green powder turns your bath into a mineral-rich soothing soup, but be warned: it definitely smells like the sea too!
A super-strength treatment from German pedi specialists Yava, Yavaped Foot Cream is packed with healing ingredients like urea (which absorbs moisture) and salicylic acid to smooth hardened skin and disinfectant properties and chamomile, to soothe even the most shattered soles.
Tried and tested
Do DIY beauty products really work? Keeley Bolger mixes up a home-made nourishing blueberry lotion.
A handful of blueberries, 1tbsp of almond oil, 3tbsp of almond milk, 1tbsp of orange flower water.
Blend and mix all the ingredients until smooth. Strain the lotion so there’s no pulp from the blueberries, and pour into a bottle. Shake well before use, as it may naturally separate.
“This lotion was easy and quick to make in the blender but unless you have a really fine sieve, it’s hard to get rid of all the blueberry skin. It smelt nice but was very runny so I had to use cotton wool to apply it, making it feel more like a cleanser than a moisturiser. It’s a nice idea and cheap once you have the ingredients, but I didn’t feel like it offered enough protection for my skin over winter to want to use it in place of my regular moisturiser.”
* Recipe courtesy of www.seasonalberries.co.uk
Soap & Glory Archery 2-in-1 Brow Filling Pencil & Brush in Blondshell
This pencil comes with a capped brush at one end, which was handy for combing through my brows before applying the colour. The twist-up pencil is very fine so it’s easy to fill in the gaps between the brow hairs. Nifty.
Butt Naked Palette, NYX
Get cheeky this Christmas with the NYX palette.
Not to be confused with the iconic ‘Naked’ palette from Urban Decay, this new NYX Cosmetics Christmas palette goes one step further – it’s ‘Butt Naked’.
With a brilliantly large mirror, it comes with 15 eyeshadows in neutral tones, four rosy blushes and three highlighters – which at €29.99 is a bit of a bargain.
The blushes are quite pigmented so there is a risk of overdoing it while the bronzer is a good all-round shade that should suit most skin tones.
With a good mix of shadows – from matte browns and stone to a gorgeous deep shimmery purple – this is the perfect palette to take you from day to night during the festive party season.
NYX Cosmetics palettes are available in pharmacies nationwide.
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