A Skincare Addict’s Crawl Through Paris

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The French know their skin care.

Whether you find yourself in Paris for vacation or whether you’re just there to explore, there’s no denying Paris is a city made for skin care lovers—and many of the treatments and products there rival the craftsmanship and elaborate nature of haute couture clothing. Here, a guide of some of the best spots to see and indulge in.

Courtesy Dior Institut/Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Iconic Spas

Ten years ago, the Dior Institut Spa opened its doors inside the Plaza Athénée hotel. It was here that designer Christian Dior chose to show his inaugural fashion collection in 1947, and the have two have since maintained a partnership of sorts ever since. Take, for example, Dior Institut’s 10-year anniversary celebration which culminates in the form of the new Quintessence 10 Face Treatment. The 90-minute service includes ten different moments, including a back massage.

Of those 10 different features, the esthetician also does microdermabrasion and an intense thermo-activated mask, as well as a deep tissue facial massage that focuses both on the overall face and the eyes. The effect is that your face becomes immediately depuffed and chiseled. The last step consists of an optional light makeup application, but with all the glowiness from the treatment, you likely won’t need it.

Aside from that, going to the Dior Institut is like a pilgrimage of sorts for any skin care lover. From the spotlit original black and white photos of Christian Dior at the hotel, to the Instagram-friendly display-only pool and luxurious lounge, it’s an experience.

Also worth visiting are any number of the spas in Paris that recently started carrying the newly founded Kos Paris brand, which is completely organic and made out of botanical plant oils. The products are free of petrochemical derivatives, mineral oil, preservatives, silicones and parabens, all ingredients that have been proved to be harmful to skin. You can buy the products at the spas and hotels where Kos is used. In Paris, it’s used at a slew of high-end locations including Hôtel de Crillon’s spa, Le Bristol Paris, Brach, Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet and many more options worldwide. The brand brings something entirely new to the Parisian spa scene. You can even make a day of it by trying one of the treatments (ranging from a hydration option to a stress relieving facial at Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet where you can step inside the gorgeous covered pool (with soft lighting) or the bubbling jacuzzis post-treatment.

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Heritage Brands

Biologique Recherche is arguably one of the most legendary skincare brands in all of France, let alone Paris. Founded over 40 years ago by Yvan, Josette and Philippe Allouche, a biologist, a physiotherapist, and a doctor, the brand takes inspiration from both natural ingredients and those that are lab-made.

The best thing about the brand, however, is that the treatments are much the same around the world, so if you’re visiting a Biologique Recherche spa in New York, or Asia, you can except some of the exact same routines.  “What makes Biologique Recherche different than the rest is that as a cosmeceutical brand,” says Mariam, BR specialist and esthetician at Karine Kazarian in New York City. “They're very meticulous about ingredient sourcing and product formulation. Their philosophy is rooted in science, not marketing or branding.” Likewise, Karine Kazarian offers all the signature facials of the brand, including the Soin Restructurant Et Lissant Treatment, which uses nearly 15 unique Biologique Recherche products and focuses on an interesting milk protein powder that stimulates the skin's protection mechanisms. The trademark of Biologique Recherche facials is that you end up leaving with completely glow-y skin.

You can also spend a whole day at the French brand’s flagship store and spa located in the heart of Paris on Champs Elysees.  The spot offers its signature facial treatments as well as those for the body and targeted for anti-aging.

Another Iconic French brand to visit while in Paris? Guerlain’s spa, cafe, and store on the Champs-Élysées. The made-to-measure treatment, in particular, is inspired by haute couture and can be altered to last anywhere between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 5 hours and 45 minutes. Think of the Institut Guerlain as the headquarters of this old school (nearly 200 years old as a brand, in fact) beauty label.

Officine Universelle Buly 1803 in Paris. David Kukin

Destination Shops

On a bustling street dubbed Rue du Four is Citypharma, a hidden gem in Paris for skin care fans. The tiny, residential pharmacy is full of locals and tourists during all hours, and shopping there can hectic but well worth the struggle. This particular pharmacy is a discount spot, where cult classic and everyday items are permanently on sale. Here, you can stock up on Embryolisse, the traditional French moisturizer, in bulk. You can get a two-pack of Bioderma, the classic French micellar water for less than you might buy one for in the states. And don’t forget the stash of Caudalie products, which cost at least one third less at all times then they might at any regular old retailer in the states.

Walking distance from Citypharma, step inside another world at Officine Universelle Buly 1803. The space is set up as an old-fashioned apothecary, with soaps, perfumes, creams, lotions and various beauty products on display. Officine Universalle Buly 1803 also sells some of the very same raw ingredients (powders, clays, oils, and butters) which are housed neatly in jars behind the counter.

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