THERE'S a reason why French women always look amazing - the fabulous range of beauty brands available in their local pharmacies.
In recent years niche brands have drifted over the Channel so you no longer need to wait to go on holiday to stock up.
One of the most talked about launches in the beauty industry in recent years was the availability of Bioderma in Britain. Much loved by models and make-up artists, the affordable brand offers a holistic, corrective solution for every skin type.
Top of the hero products is Bioderma Sensibio H20, £4.99, the first micellar solution in the world, with one bottle sold every five seconds. The gentle three-in-one cleansing water removes even waterproof make-up, leaving skin soothed and refreshed.
Sensitive skin specialists La Roche-Posay formulate products with thermal spring water. Choose from best buys to cleanse and repair skin as well as make-up and hair favourites. The La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP Lipid-Replenishing Body Balm, £14, is specially blended for dry skin, moisturising for 24 hours to stop scratching and restore comfort.
Vichy is now the number one skincare brand in European pharmacies with years of research put into anti-ageing and protecting the skin from the environment. Newcomers to the brand should try Vichy Idealia Life Serum, £29.95, to repair and restore radiance. A universal treatment for all skintypes, use under moisturiser morning and night.
When it comes to luxury skincare, it takes a lot to beat Darphin. The professional botanical Parisian skincare line is based on a harmonious blend of plants and pure essential oils. The results are amazing.
Their plant-based oils can be used by even the most sensitive skin. Darphin 8 Flower Nectar, £94, firms and nourishes skin that lacks elasticity and is very dry with a blend of ylang ylang, patchouli, neroli, rose, jasmine, ever-lasting, iris and lavender.
Launched in 1994, L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, £8, is a worldwide bestseller. Enriched with 20% shea butter, fairly traded with women's co-operatives in Burkina Faso, the super-creamy formula penetrates quickly to protect, nourish and repair the skin. A luxurious cream, enriched with honey, almond and coconut oils, it performs wonders on dry and fragile hands all year-round.
If the sweet-smelling fragrance of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multipurpose Dry Oil, £28, isn't enough to tempt you, the natural oils and plant extracts certainly will, from borage and St John's wort to camellia, hazelnut and vitamin E. Use it on the face and body to leave skin soft and silky or as an overnight treatment on hair for super shine.
SPLASH out on the new Bobbi Brown Surf Eye Palette, sheer washes of colour from sandy neutrals to sea blues and sunset pinks. With metallic and shimmering finishes, they are perfect for layering to take you from pool side to pool bar.
Three of the best Budget Buys
BIODERMA PURIFYING CLEANSING FOAMING GEL, £9
This foaming gel for combination and oily skin smells great and gently cleanses the skin without drying it out. All you have to do it work the gel into a mousse and hey presto it limits the secretion of sebum and purifies the epidermis.
MARKS & SPENCER FORMULA AGE RESTORE SERUM, £12
Particularly like the texture of this cream, very light and not greasy. The packaging is the ideal size for travel. Looking forward to seeing positive results over the next couple of weeks.
BODY SHOP VITAMIN E CREAM CLEANSER, £8.50
Removed make-up thoroughly and left skin noticeably softer. Liked that it wasn't perfumed: it was perfect for my dry, sensitive skin.