A Few French Must-Haves

By Lulle, France, Local Contributor

Lulle was born in France, and she says she came to life so hungry that she was trying to swallow her entire first–and the fondness for food never went away! She wasn’t obsessed with makeup as a teenager or young adult. At 25, she moved to Instanbul, Turkey, where she lived for five years, and this is where the beauty addiction started. When she wandered through duty-free shops while traveling, she discovered a whole new, glamorous world.

Lulle is easy-going, loving, and spontaneous; she loves to enjoy every moment of life. Check out her blog, Beau Miroir!

A Few French Must-Haves

As a typical beauty junkie, I tend to try a lot of new products, and I’m usually not loyal to any brand. Before I even reach the bottom of a bottle or pan, I’m already on the hunt for something better, newer, or just unheard of for replacement. However, there are a few exceptions–some products that I wouldn’t even consider kicking out of my routine: they are the long-term lease tenants of my bathroom. I know everything about them; they might not be spectacular but I trust them, because I know they won’t let me down.

My hair is generally going wild, because I’m just no good at brushing, styling, or shaping, and I really hate going to the hairdresser (having my scalp stabbed by a comb and burnt by a dryer is no fun for me).  But I have an ally to keep it looking shiny and tidy: the Masque Garnier Ultra Doux (€6.00) conditioning treatment, which is sold in supermarkets for less than 6 euros. It comes in a large pot with a fat belly, and it has a creamy texture that helps nourish and detangle my hair. It can be used as a regular post-shampoo conditioner, since it only needs to stay on for three minutes to be efficient, but I often prefer to give my hair deep moisture by applying it before shampooing, and keeping it on for at least half an hour. It is actually a whole range, and it comes in different varieties, which specialize in specific issues (anti-frizz, dyed hair, extreme dryness, damaged hair tips, etc.). I’ve had a good experience with all the “flavors” that I tried; they have nice scents and leave my hair healthy looking, smooth, and shiny without making it heavy. I think it’s an accessible, cheap, easy, and efficient way to take care of my hair, and I’ve been using for over 5 years now!

I’ve always loved the refreshing feeling of a spritz of cool water on my face, but for a long time, I avoided mineral water sprays as they increase evaporation thus drying out the skin. Then, about 6 months ago, I discovered a product at my beauty salon, which has now become a corner stone of my skincare routine: L’Eau Cellulaire (€19.00) by Institut Esthederm. It’s packaged in a nice silver spray bottle, and unlike regular water, it is formulated to be as close as possible to the fluid cells live in, called inter-cellular liquid. It supposedly brings energy and nutrients right into your skin cells, making it more responsive to the skincare you use next.  It is designed to respect the fragile ecosystem of the skin. After spraying it on your face, you have to gently massage it in to help it sink into the skin. I’m not a biologist so the whole concept behind this product is quite complex for me, but I appreciate the research effort. I can say it really works for me: it leaves my skin smooth, soft, moisturized, comfortable, and the serums or creams I apply after it are definitely absorbed faster and seem more efficient. The downside is the cost, that’s an expensive kind of water! Since I enjoy using it, and it visibly improves my skincare routine, I’m ready to cope with the price tag.

One makeup brand that you’ll most certainly find in any French girl’s makeup bag is Bourjois. It’s been around for over 150 years, and the famous colorful round boxes containing eyeshadow or blush were already among our grandmother’s and mother’s favorites! There’s a wide choice of shades in the shadows and blushes and the quality is consistent throughout the range, plus it is affordable although not really cheap (about 12 euros for an eyeshadow), and very easy to find in department stores, beauty stores and some supermarkets. Apart from the round boxes, I mostly like their eye pencils, and they also have a lot of good lipsticks and glosses. Because it is so accessible and familiar, young girls, including me, often discover the joys of makeup through Bourjois when secretly playing with their mom’s stuff or when purchasing their first products!

These three products are really no-brainers for me and I never hesitate to buy them again and again! If you ever come to France for a visit, you can grab one (or all!) at the store and I’m pretty confident you’ll be happy with these touches of beauty à la française.


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Ana G. Avatar

My addiction actually started with bourjois. I’m from Portugal but my godfather and godmother are french so, I went to Paris several times a year and I remember going with my cousin to Monoprix and spend hours and hours choosing bourjois makeup…Though I’ve started using other brands, bourjois will always have a special place in my heart!

Turboweevel Avatar

I’m from Portugal too (recently moved to New York though) and I remember seeing lots of Bourjois sold at supermarkets. The products I tried were generally pretty decent and my favorite set of eyeliner pencils is their duochrome line.

Chris25 Avatar

I remember when Bourjois was sold in America. Ten years ago I bought this black eyeliner from the company that was a rich black and so creamy! I still dream over it to this day…

cydoniac Avatar

I have tried some Bourjois eyeshadows and I am not satisfied with the quality of the single eyshadows..in fact, I had 2 of those and I gave them to a friend of mine who doesn’t really care about make-up….one of them was a deep purple in the pan but on the lids it was beyond awful…it was sheer as hell and a pain to work with…even on top of a base,it sucked….the other one was a greenish grey,which was a bit better than the purple one but still,pretty much lame…I have however a trio called “les argents” (the silver ones) and it is really good with good texture and colour payoff…I find that they are a bit overpriced,especially when I can buy MAC eyeshadows for 11 euros a piece on a 25-30% discount,like every two weeks or something here….

Fernanda Avatar

I don’t understand why Bourjois is so much more expensive in France than in the UK. You pay £4/ £5 for an eyeshadow in the UK, £10 for a foundation and £8 for a mascara. I don’t understand why the same foundation costs 17 euros in France and the same mascara 16 euros. Maybe it’s the taxes, who knows, but I tell all of my friends to stock up on Bourjois in the UK instead of France…

Alycia Avatar

I love Bourjois!! I’m from Canada, and a couple of years ago, the Shoppers Drug Mart store near me started carrying the brand – I have been OBSESSED ever since! It’s not quite so expensive here as you described, but the quality is fantastic, and I love the way their products smell. 🙂 I didn’t realize it was such an old brand in Europe. Thanks for this post! It’s good to know things to look for, should I visit France at any point!

Sarah Karenina Avatar

I love L’Eau Cellulaire so much ! Great product !
I also think that the foundation Healthy Mix Serum by Bourjois is really good too, even better than Armani’s foundation (and I own two of them…)
There’s also Coup D’Eclat Lifting Ampoule that Peter Philips recommends, don’t know if the brand is French or not…

(this is a comment written by a French girl 😉

Chiara Avatar

How could you not love Bourjois? Affordable Chanel dupes in quite packaging? I live in Belgium (the Dutch speaking part) and I’m so glad we have Bourjois. We might suffer from the lack of UD, MUFE, TF, Bobbi Brown and many, many other brands .. But having Bourjois (and some pretty awsome German brands aswell) helps us through 🙂 I particularly like the foundations and the eye pencils!

Jennifer Salazar Avatar

I love bourjois and was able to purchase when it was sold by sephora almost 5 years ago. whenI go to the site there isnt a tab for the U.S, do you happen to know where else i could purchase fro this brand?

Lulle Avatar

I’m not sure where or whether you can find it in the US but I’ll look into that. It’s sold in the UK so you might find websites carrying the brand that can ship to the US.

Melissa Avatar

Just a little pet peeve (the molecular biologist in me can’t help myself!)- you probably mean extracellular fluid rather than intercellular. Small correction! I’m skeptical on whether it actually works, but I’m sure it feels really nice. I love the feeling of water spray on my face!

Heather Avatar

Am I the only one who finds bourjois eyeshadows to be completely terrible? I agree that the rest of their products are pretty great, especially the liners…. but the eyeshadows are AWFUL! No pigment at all, just a muddied down sheer version of what is in the pan! I work at a Shoppers Beauty Boutique and when a customer is interested in the eyeshadows, all I have to do is swatch one for them to change their minds! I find the same with the blushes… Super dissapointing product to me, and shocking to see it on someone’s favorties list!

Joan Avatar

Exactly! I have to pack and pack and pack it on when i use them dry to make it show 🙁

But I’m not sure if that’s the way they like it? Like, perhaps they like sheerer and more natural eyeshadows? Also, maybe their skin is fairer (i’m more yellow) so sheerer e/s shows up better on their skin while highly pigmented ones are too loud… Just occurred to me that it might be that case because the European Chanel E/S quads seems to come much sheerer than the US version as well…

But its not so bad if you try them wet. 🙂

Lulle Avatar

It is true, the typical eye look in France is softer than in North America.
However, the trend is changing now that you can find brands like Urban Decay selling highly pigmented spectacular shadows, and Bourjois recently changed the formula for more color payoff.

Nadia Avatar

Nope, it’s not just you! With all the hype around Bourjois, I went and checked them out at Shoppers and I would have had to pull a Christine/Temptalia and actually dig IN to the shadow to get any pay-off. Most of the blushes seem to have the same awful, dry texture. Bourjois does a nice mascara, that two step one. But I’d never buy the shadows or blushers. I’ve tried the Healthy mix foundation on the back of my hand and that seems lovely but I haven’t actually tried it on my face.

christine Avatar

I’m with you guys, I like the chocolate bronzer alright but the eyeshadows and blushes aren’t worth anything IMO…I probably wouldn’t take a second look at the brand again since mostly everything I have has totally let me down:(

Lulle Avatar

Their color payoff is definitely not comparable to UD for instance, but I think they’re at least as good as or better than a lot of high end brands! They do have more intensity when used wet.

Cat Avatar

I love Bourjois eyeshadow!! I discovered them when I lived in Europe because my aunt uses them every day for her makeup. They are amazing when applied wet but also plain. For not too much money I think they’re pretty high quality. I have three right now, the brown one which remains one of my favorite browns (when applied wet), a blue one and a black one. I’ve never tried the pencils, maybe I will check them out next time I’m in Europe! (if the exchange rate ever gets better!)

fks Avatar

I actually discovered Bourjois pretty recently, after having spent (much) more than I should have on the high end brands. The blushes are lovely. The mineralize e/s in the little round boxes are very nice when used wet. My favourite is noir emeraude (no. 7), a blackened emerald color which works well either wet or dry. But the new “little round pot intense e/s” do have problems with poor color intensity on application. I would also recommend their mettalise & smokey range of eye pencils are they are very soft and smudgeable. The “kohl and contour” series, however, is too hard, and needs too much pressure to apply. Haven’t tried the other stuff, but
overall it is a very nice brand.

Erica Avatar

Quote: “and I really hate going to the hairdresser (having my scalp stabbed by a comb and burnt by a dryer is no fun for me).”
Wow, that’s implying that hairdressers are totally incompetent, injure their clients, and are not concerned about the client’s comfort. As a hairdresser, I have never burned a client with a dryer, or anything else for that matter, and I’ve never stabbed anyone with a comb, even though I sometimes want to when a client has a crappy attitude.

Logan Avatar

I wouldn’t take it that personally, she maybe tender headed and frankly might have had bad experiences with hair dressers before. Just like most people don’t like the dentists/have fears of it doesn’t mean all dentists are bad. I took it as she had a bad experience with a hair dresser vs all hair dressers aren’t competent.

Stephanie Avatar

We have Bourjouis here where I live currently (Singapore) and I can’t say anything except I do remember there was a little girl swatching all the colours and she got a pretty good blue one lol. I’ve also heard good things about their mascaras- I just ordered one from the UK. Hope it’s good!

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