One of our first stops, when we get to Paris, is to the scentsational shrine of health and beauty known as the French Pharmacie. Like kids in a candy store, we are adults in a Pharmacie, enticed by an explosion of products that are all so gorgeously packaged and expertly presented by knowledgeable pharmaciennes that we actually believe they will work better than anything we can find at home. Just one whiff of my French skin cream and I am transported to the French countryside, the land of lavender and rosemary and therapeutic plants like Neroli and Helichrysum, whose healing qualities will rejuvenate my skin on every trip to Paris!
So obsessed am I by these products that on walks in Provence, I’ve been known to gather up handfuls of helichrysum or lavender and rub it all over my fleece jacket, then pack it up in a suitcase so that the delicious and distinctive scent will stay with me for days. That’s how I feel about the fragrances and healing properties of the therapeutic herbs that are commonly used in my favorite French pharmacie products. Shopping is more than fulfilling a need, it’s the ultimate 21st century retail buzzword: An experience!
It didn’t occur to me, on our protracted trip to France in March, to stock up on my usual French pharmacie brands because it never occurred to me that the pandemic would keep us away for this long. So when April rolled around and I was out of French face cream, hair products and body oil, I wasn’t sure what to do. Having politely turned down all the product samples offered by my hair dresser and esthetician (“no thank you” and under my breath, “I get my products in Paris”), I didn’t know what to buy.
Allison brought in a line of “French Girl” beauty products to Huff Harrington Home and although she swore by them, and our clients seemed to like them too, I have to admit that I never tried them – just that Paris thing again. But when the pandemic hit, and I needed a quick fix, I decided to try a few of our own French Girl products, just to bail me out for a few months, I thought, until I could get the real thing. I honestly didn't expect too much.
Well, quelle surprise!
After trying their Crème Fraiche face cream, which feels exactly the way it sounds – fresh, light and creamy - I bought up what I could and told Allison to double the order for the store! Then I started experimenting with some of the other products, like the Fleur de Neroli facial oil, which is perfect for my dry skin. Just one whiff and I felt like I was back in Provence and rubbing helichrysum all over my skin – although this was a lot more practical! I’ve also started using the scrub, which feels like rubbing sand on your face, and I’ve taken to mixing it with a cleansing oil so that I get a double benefit of scrub and cleanse.
Their best selling product is actually the Rose Sea Spray Hair Texture Product, which smells as great as it feels and leaves the hair with more body without the stiffness. And for those who love to luxuriate in the bath, there are a variety of bath products which all have the same nurturing characteristics and the soothing botanical scents. I have to say that for me, it's all about the scents and feel: I'm obsessed with some of the fragrances and love the way my skin feels after using them.
There's a reason these products remind me of my French pharmacie obsessions: As Allison explained to be, French Girl products promote healthy aging by employing time-tested, natural ingredients. Products are derived from organic cold-pressed oils that retain all of the antioxidants and fatty acids essential to skin health. Their florals contain many of the same benefits as the essential oils from which they are distilled (why I love the fragrances). Their organic flower powders provide luscious scent and texture and their therapeutic salts are sourced from traditionally harvested French Grey salt from the Guérande region in France. But, these are all made in America!
I think Allison was a little surprised by my about face (excuse the pun) on this line, especially since she knows how much I love my French pharmacie purchases. Luckily, I still have reason to go back to France because at least for now, French Girl doesn’t carry bandaids, shampoo, deodorant, soaps and those naughty little chiclet sleep aids we've come to know and love!
Let’s face it: Paris is always a good idea, and so is the French pharmacie, even if for now it's at Huff Harrington Home!