Who stole my croissant

Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg

Beauty secrets: the skincare brand French dermatologists love

Until I met Lola, an American friend with a passion for French pharmacies, I had never heard of La Roche-Posay. Up until then I’d been the kind of dumb tourist who went to pharmacies to buy aspirin or mosquito repellent. I had no idea – no idea at all – that even the meanest pharmacy in France was an Aladdin’s cave of skincare products.

Now, thanks to Lola, and legions of Frenchwomen in London, I know that dermatologists in France routinely recommend La Roche-Posay and I know that its moisturisers and sunscreens are considered super-gentle and very effective. Even Delphine, the Kensington mother who wears Chanel gumboots and surely uses nothing but Crème de la Mer, is a devotee. I manage to catch her on her mobile just as she’s leaving the Veronese exhibition at the National Gallery. ‘La Roche-Posay?’ she says. ‘I wonder why I bother buying anything else. It is vraiment top and you can really trust it.’

The good news is that Boots is having a bit of a love-in with France. It hasn’t yet kitted out its staff in lab coats or filled its windows with bizarre weight loss ads (the true mark of a French pharmacy) but it does stock a good selection of La Roche-Posay products, often on three for the price of two deals with other French pharmacy brands. Cost wise La Roche-Posay is roughly level with No 7 and way south of the big boys like Clinique and Clarins.

Like all skincare brands La R-P promises the sun and the moon – so it’s bonjour peachy skin, au revoir spots, dryness, wrinkles, red patches. At least that’s what le packaging tells us and who am I to disagree?

Beauty journalist Emma Hill, skincare guru, dog lover, gifted artist and the only person I know who can wear Boden with edge, has offered to share with us her five favourite La Roche-Posay products. Just back from a glittering Burberry show in Shanghai (see her article in Get the Gloss), she tells me that that this is a brand beauty editors are prepared to open their wallets for.

La Roche-Posay? Us beauty editors love it that’s for sure. And it’s brilliant for sensitive skin.’

Here is Emma Hill’s selection:
Prices quoted are from the Boots website – if you’re ever in South Kensington, Harleys Pharmacy near the Tube has an excellent selection of La R-P products


1. The sunscreen
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+ £10.87

‘When applied to the face, high factor sunscreen often feels heavy and sticky, leaving skin like an oil slick,’ says Emma. ‘Not a good look. This though, doesn’t. So it’s just as ideal under make-up, as it is swanning around on a yacht in the Med. It’s the one I recommend to women who are pale and burn easily. It’s also good protection for women who have melasma, a condition where UV leaves mottled, tanned patches on the skin.’

2. The make-up remover
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser £8.25

‘Mostly, I like my cleanser to take off both eye and face make-up,’ says Emma. ‘I can’t be bothered with separate eye make-up remover unless I’m wearing a particularly tenacious mascara (BeneFit I Can’t Believe They’re Real – a great product but a devil to remove). This is gentle enough for the eye area and wonderful if your skin is on the sensitive side.’

3. The moisturiser for fine lines and eye area
La Roche-Posay Redermic C £25

‘This is a vitamin C based anti-ageing skin salve. Vitamin C has antioxidant, brightening and anti-ageing properties but at high levels in skincare, can irritate. This version has been formulated for sensitive skin, so doesn’t. Its texture is like silk and leaves skin with a little bit of a glow. I will be using it after moisturiser around my eyes and over lined areas of my face.’

4. The facial spritz
La Roche-Posay Eau Thermale Thermal Spring Water £8

I’m a facial spritz girl,’ says Emma. ‘I particularly love a floral facial spray. This one is without flowers, essential oils or scent, so is ideal for sensitive skin. It is pure thermal spring water, so rich in trace elements, which have a desensitising effect on skin. I also use it if my foundation has left my skin a bit dull and old looking – mist all over then gently pat into your skin.’

5. The soothing cream for red, flaky skin
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Balm £16

‘Its clean, white, creamy texture feels rich and comforting on dry or chapped skin. One application cleared up the red, flaky skin around my nose after a particularly cruel cold, overnight. I only wish I had had it to hand last week for my dilapidated nose after a criminal bout of hay fever. But I don’t mind because it’s with my baby niece for her nappy rash. I thought it would be just the ticket.’

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4 comments on “Beauty secrets: the skincare brand French dermatologists love

  1. Anne Varick Lauder
    May 10, 2014

    Love this post! As an aside, my French friends love Avene, too, also available at boots… Xx

    …via IPhone


  2. Tessa
    May 10, 2014

    OMG. I am off to Boots toutesuite!

  3. Tessa
    May 10, 2014

    OMG. I am off to Boots toutsuite!

  4. Anne
    May 10, 2014

    Brilliant advice! Actually, this post was beautifully timed as I had just run out of my usual skin care products. I ventured to my local pharmacy in Chelsea (IT Lloyds, near Glebe St. on the Kings Road) where they have an abundant range of La Roche-Posay products (apparently also recommended by the Dermatologist practice across the street). I bought your no. 4 and left with armfuls of samples of the others! Can’t wait to try them…Thanks! – Anne

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