The 5 beauty heroes to buy on holiday

Sun, sea, Sangria and dry shampoo – Daisy Buchanan rounds up the best beauty buys to pick up when you’re en vacances

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By Daisy Buchanan on

Paris is the Las Vegas of chemists. Yes, it has the Notre Dame, one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in Europe, if not the world. Of course, millions flock to the arterial Pompidou and the Louvre, the world’s largest and most structurally iconic art museum. But I start to work myself into a spiritual and cultural fever pitch when I see a flashing, illuminated green cross affixed to the side of a building. I mutter a hopeful prayer under my breath. Caudalie. La Roche-Posay, Nuxe, Klorane. I have a pharmacy fetish and nothing makes my heart beat faster than the prospect of being able to buy some high-end skincare at the same time as picking up a load of safety pins and surgical gauze. I’m fortunate enough to never yet have needed my own supply of surgical gauze, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

The stock of any chemist tells a story. There’s glamour, sophistication, aspiration – but also an acknowledgement of the lows that might befall us, as well as the highs of hopefulness. This state of affairs is true of any holiday. Ideally, we will become our best, brightest, most relaxed and dewy-skinned selves. But we also might get sunburned and stung by wasps. My favourite thing about visiting chemists abroad is that they believe beauty deserves to be taken every bit as seriously as medicine. Here in the UK, the independent chemists have their own eclectic charm and you can pick up your prescription, a new address book and some fudge in a tin shaped like a Scottie dog. But in France, in Spain, in Italy, in Germany and beyond, you can work your way through a thick wad of euros and stagger out in a daze, clutching 19 different permutations of hyaluronic acid. Here are some lovely things to spend your holiday money on. They’re cheaper and easier to buy abroad, but you can get get hold of most of them in the UK, if you want your staycation to have a continental vibe.

Caudalie Fleur De Vigne Shower Gel

It’s on the spendy side, but this smells like a rose garden on a midsummer night and is made from natural ingredients (aloe vera and plant-derived glycerine), so it’s gentle enough to soothe the most temperamental of skins. This fragrance is my favourite, but it comes in pure rose, orange blossom and ginger, and bergamot and iris versions, too. If you’re going hard, the Caudalie Divine Oil is usually a bit cheaper if you buy it in Europe. It makes skin satiny but, more importantly, if you spray some on straight after your shower, you’ll feel like Brigitte Bardot in Le Mépris.


Weleda Skin Food

Although you can usually find Weleda in the UK if you look hard enough, around Europe it’s ubiquitous and unmissable, which is great news for anyone who likes soft skin. Skin Food is a glorious thing to have in your holiday toolbox, as it instantly revives dusty feet, dry hands and elbows. This will help anyone to survive a surfeit of sun and vino tinto. If you’re smart, you’ll bring enough home to keep you going through the winter. The brand is Swiss and their products are designed to work through different seasons – so when the central heating is sucking all of the moisture out of your skin in six months’ time, you can stay ahead of the game.


Klorane Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk

I bought this while I was at a festival in Portugal and I bored everyone to bits with how great it was. (“Smell my hair! Touch it! I washed it four days ago! But it’s soft and smooth!” “Daisy, SHUT UP and let me watch Solange.”) Klorane is another French brand that is celebrated for its serious, almost prescriptive approach to haircare, but the dry shampoo astonished me. I have been using versions of this product for over 10 years and I had no idea that it could be so good. It’s much more gentle than any other brand I’ve ever used, it’s fast-absorbing and comes without the slight itchiness or stickiness I sometimes experience. It’s genuinely a hairwash in a can.


Embryolisse Laboratories Lait-crème Concentrate

My kind friend Lex introduced me to this when she gave me her spare and I’ve been buying it whenever I see it ever since. I have combination skin and this is one of the few products of its kind that isn’t phased by my dry cheeks and oily T-zone. It plumps my skin and calms it, evening out the tone and making me believe that I could be out the door with a quick slash of red lipstick, a shrug and a “Bof!” It’s a great primer – and I haven’t had a go, but some people like to use it as a make-up remover. (For that, je voudrais une boite énorme of the Bioderma Sensibo, s’il vous plaît.


La Roche Posay Effaclar micellar water

Another once-cult brand that is now fairly easy to buy at home, LRP products all feel transformatively French – there’s a sense of seriousness and ritual that makes you feel almost gravely gamine, like an Anita Brookner heroine cloistered in a Parisian attic days before beginning a life-changing affair. I love the effaclar because it’s especially gentle, but incredibly powerful. It will remove days of dirt, the ghost of partners past and mascara that hasn’t budged since 2009, leaving nothing but soft, glowing skin underneath.




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