September 28, 2016

Paris Beauty Haul & Experience at City Pharma

      I don't regret much during my trip to Paris, but I do regret not buying more beauty products. I only had a couple "must buys" on my list, but some of the French skincare and beauty brands were literally half off in the French Pharmacies. My primary purpose in going to Paris wasn't to buy beauty products, but it was a really great place to buy amazing skincare products that were geared towards sensitive skin. The French seem to really focus on skincare products that are gentle and geared towards hydration without harsh chemical ingredients. I was also able to shop at the infamous City Pharma located at 26 Rue du Four in the Saint Germain area. If you're curious about the shopping experience there, read ahead! Warning - long post below!

      As a disclaimer, I didn't buy all of the above pictured products at City Pharma. I bought Serozinc, Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm (2 pots), and the twin pack of 500ml Bioderma bottles. Why did I buy so little? Honestly, it was highly stressful shopping at City Pharma. For some reason the day and time I was able to shop there (in the afternoon around 4pm), they were closed and didn't reopen until 5pm. I waited around an hour for the store to open and went back to the storefront at around 15 to 5 and found that there was already a crowd of 30 strong waiting for the store to open. Once the doors opened, it was literally back to back going into the store and once in the store, it was just too claustrophobic (and this is coming from someone who has lived in NYC for over 5 years). Of course there were other items I wanted to get and take a longer look at, but you literally are crawling and reaching over people to get to the products (Caudalie products especially). 

      It was also at City Pharma that I witnessed pickpocketers taking off after pickpocketing someone because you're just bumping elbows with everyone there so it's a hot spot for thieves. I ended up grabbing only my must haves and relented to shop elsewhere for other items - the checkout line was also a total nightmare (although the cashiers were fast, it was just so crowded). The prices were amazing don't get me wrong - Serozinc was 4 euros, each Nuxe lip blam was 6 euros, the twin pack of Bioderma was 15 euros. My recommendation? If you have to shop here expect the most crowded shopping conditions ever (worst than sample sales), grab your must haves, don't expect to have any time to inspect items closely, and once you're done hurry to the registers to avoid the huge check out line.

      I don't regret not spending more time at City Pharma because there are tons of other French pharmacies in France (just look for the neon green plus sign!). Although the prices will be slightly more, you have room to breathe, browse, and there will be people to help answer your questions and show you the location of products unlike at City Pharma. I bought Biafine (missing from the photos because I have already started using it) at another pharmacy near City Pharma for 6 euros. A313 which is the closest equivalent to Avibon (it's currently being reformulated) is a vitamin A pomade was also purchased at other pharmacies for 11 or so euros. The Caudalie detox facial oil was on sale for 30 euros (retails at $52 here in the States) was also purchased at another French pharmacy on Rue St. Honore which was near my hotel where I received amazing customer service by a French pharmacist who recommended the product to me based on my skincare needs.

      I also bought a couple makeup products including the Shu Uemura cleansing oil for sensitive skin (this was an impulse buy and I regret purchasing it a little since it was 44 euros for the smaller size and only $31 via the official Shu Uemura website) at a Shu Uemura store. I also finally got my hands on the Healthy Mix Gel Serum Gel Foundation by Bourgeois and that was around 14 euros, as well as a blush since they were having a BOGO 50% off offer.

      In conclusion, if you're not buying a ton of beauty products or if you're not planning on spending at least 175 euros in one place (which is the minimum amount for the VAT refund), then I wouldn't recommend buying all your beauty products at City Pharma. If you are, then I would endure the claustrophobic aisles at City Pharma since they're experienced with the VAT refund and will fill out the tax forms for you. Lastly, as always, look out for reviews on the (new to me) products mentioned above!


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