Stalking Beauty

L’Oreal, Lancome, Dior, Chanel…French beauty products may still carry that cachet of sophistication and all-around ooh-la-la, but Americans in Paris are not completely satisfied with the city’s pricey potions. Lipstick, mascaras, and face creams cost significantly more here than in the United States, and store clerks live up the the French reputation of uselessness (just today a Sephora salesgirl on the Boulevard St. Germain told me she had “no idea” what foundation contained the greenish tint that helps offset rosacea redness). What do Americans miss most from home? Aveda hair care products top the list in an informal poll of stylish expats. “Their shampoo is the only thing that makes my flat hair look like it has an ounce of body,” says Meg Zimbeck, editor of the Paris food and dining blog Graphic designer Lesley Feldman and literature professor Lauren Elkin also stock up at Aveda on their trips back to the US. Translator and interpreter Sedulia Scott laments the absence of Boots face cream with sunscreen (it’s called No. 7) that she is used to buying at Target. “It’s really hard to find moisturizer with sunscreen in Paris, and the one time I did find it, the salesman tried to talk me out of it, saying it was useless and sun was good for you.” Seche Vite Topcoat—despite the French name, which means “quick dry” —is another beauty supply store staple much-missed in the City of Light. “it’s super-thick and, like car varnish, nothing gets through it,” says Alexandra Marshall, a freelance journalist. “It makes a manicure last weeks.” Marshall also longs for Terax Life Drops Protein Conditioner, which, she says, “has tons of protein so it’s good for sealing up split ends. It’s liquid-y and not greasy or silicone-y.” Even certain kinds of deodorant can keep an expat checking air fare prices for shopping binges back home. Jenny Sundel, who writes the blog, learned the hard way just how good Secret Scent Expression deodorants are. “I tried a Vichy version once,” Sundel recalls. “I smelled great–for about an hour. And then it was downhill from there. I never think about how well my deodorant works…until it doesn’t!”

3 Responses to “Stalking Beauty”

  1. Comment by Anne | 05/30/11 at 7:42 pm

    You can find Aveda products at Joel Villard at 16, rue de Saint-Simon in the 7th arrrondissement (Metro: Rue de Bac). It’s the only licensed Aveda salon in France.

  2. Comment by Ruth | 05/31/11 at 12:34 am

    It isn’t only France, a friend lived in India for years, well, she is from India and she and her mother always stock up when they are in the states on cosmetics. This is GREAT stuff to know, for if I ever live in France. :). Love your blog! r.

  3. Iza
    Comment by Iza | 05/31/11 at 10:28 pm


    how about trying Avene for a sunscreen (I just bought it online and I’m in the States) or bioderm. Since it’s hot here, I use it on freshly washed face, otherwise it would be too greasy (I have combination skin). It feels heavier than neutrogena but supposedly, the ingredients are actually much better for your skin and your health. I love the scent of Avene.

    It’s funny to read how American expats living in France, crave their american products. I’m originally from Poland (have lived here for 15 yrs now) and I actually miss and still stock up on products from Poland when possible. So, I guess, it’s what one is used to. :) As to deodorant, you may want to try the Garnier line -it’s very effective and smells good.

    I hope that we’ll be relocating to Paris soon and I’m looking forward to trying French cosmetics…and other things. Great blog!

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