20€ Well-Spent: Surburban French Parapharmacy Edition

I'm blatantly stealing Annie's column and taking it international.
Publish date:
August 6, 2013
shopping, lip balms, nails, toners, bargains, Nuxe, France, skincare, Cauterets, Vitry

In a previous post, I introduced you to French pharmacies and their most famous brands and products. Today, we are going to continue Annie’s fine tradition of blowing $20 in stores that sell beauty products.

For this edition, I take you all the way to a minor French city on the Atlantic coast to visit a parapharmacy in the local mall. We are going to up the ante to 20€ for even more beauty goodness.

The difference between a pharmacy and a parapharmacy is the ratio of cosmetics to medicine. In a parapharmacy, the cosmetics make up most of the products for sale. This particular parapharmacy is a favorite of mine because it has a wide range of cosmetics, from mass-market brands like Eucerin to super-high-end brands like Skinceuticals. It also has air-conditioning: a rare luxury in an unusually hot summer.

Amongst the Swiss clay masks and Polynesian flavored coconut oils, I found and fell in love with Garancia’s Diabolique Tomate Crème d’Eau. This tomato-water cream is apparently “diabolical” and “devilishing pulpy” and promises a healthy glow with actives like tomato juice and “dragon’s blood resin.” Legally suspicious yet intriguing.

It felt cool, smooth and watery on my skin, and it looked like the juice that drips out of a cut tomato. Yet at 30€, it is over my budget. I rejected it in favor of the following three products.

My first purchase, the Rêve de Miel Baume Lèvres, is a lip balm from the all-natural brand Nuxe. According to the brand, one of these sells every 28 seconds in the world. It’s fun because they do their hydration tests on Canadians in winter, which is unquestionably a best practice in lip balm testing.

The first ingredient is beeswax, which gives the balm a waxy rather than greasy texture and a matte look on the lips. This balm is great for using in a no-makeup makeup look or under matte lipsticks.

My second purchase is Vitry NailCare Huile Cuticules, a mango-scented oil in a nail polish bottle with a brush. The brand is originally a manicure tools company founded in 1795. “Day after day” usage promises “a perfect nail contour.”

The main ingredient is coconut oil, and it feels lovely on my cuticles. However, it left a film on the nail that attracted debris.

Finally, I bought a new toner, the Cauterets Pureté Peaux Grasses from Galénic Paris, part of the Pierre Fabre cosmetic group in southern France. Cauterets is the name of a French mineral spring water, the first ingredient in the toner. Their packaging is pretty good-looking for a parapharmacy brand.

The toner feels quite soft and smooth on application, which is unusual for one marketed toward oily skin. I feel only slight stinging at application. However, the fragrance was a sweet herby scent which I really could do without. At any rate, in this weather, I’m using it a lot.

What is your favorite place to find new bargain beauty deals? Have you tried any of these three products?