Using French Skincare in California

A Californian in Paris: French Skincare on a California Beach

A Californian in Paris: Sunbathing in Orange County



Happy that I finally got my dose of sun (as well as a nice tan), I’d like to share with you the products I’ve been using to keep my skin nice as it transitions from ghastly Parisian pale to a nice Californian bronze. It’s very important to keep your skin protected from the sun, no matter how much you want to keep laying outside. It doesn’t mean you have to tame your desire for nicely golden skin. But you’ve got to be smart when it comes to shielding yourself from the damaging effects of sun burns, dry skin, and worst of all– potential skin cancer.

As a general rule, you want to put your sunscreen on at least 15 minutes before going into the sun. You may also need to put on several layers of sunscreen. It’s no question that you need to keep reapplying your sunscreen every hour or two, depending on your contact with water. Always double check your products’ directions and follow them exactly.

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Comfort 50+ SPF For Sensitive and Sun Intolerant Skin (UVB + UVA protection)

Last summer, Petit Copain and I got madly burnt in San Diego. As a brown-skinned person, I rarely burn like a lobster. However, after spending 4 hours in the sun without properly putting on sunscreen, I became terribly sunburnt. I couldn’t sit down for a week or two without being in severe pain. Yeah. This dreadful sunburn happened because it was my first time using a spray-on sunscreen. I didn’t bother reapplying it throughout the day nor did I apply it properly the first time. If you are using spray-on sunscreens, you MUST put on many layers as well as rub the formula into your skin. Petit Copain and I unfortunately didn’t get understand this, and had nice little zig-zag patterns all over our bodies (lobster-zebras!)

Ever since that incident, I have stayed away from spray-ons and have gone back to classic sunscreen lotions. More moisturizing and soothing, I prefer the feel of creams. You also avoid breathing in the fumes of spray-on sunscreens. The problem with creams is that the texture can be extremely chalky or sticky, which is very unpleasant in the sand. La Roche Posay, a very notable brand for sunscreen care (and one of my favs), came to my rescue. Not only was the Anthelios XL successful in preventing sunburns, it was extremely moisturizing without leaving such a heavy residue. At first, the cream is very thick to put on but quickly absorbs into the skin. It also didn’t leave a white, chalky residue and I got my tan without looking like a painted ghost. In 100F/38C weather, I did not get burnt. A solid victory for me.

I think Target now sells some versions of Anthelios and you should definitely grab some if you can. Double check if these American versions contain the UVB + UVA protection formula; otherwise, I can’t guarantee the different versions will be as effective as the originals.

As I’ve said in the beginning of the post, keep reapplying the sunscreen and make sure to let your skin absorb the cream before stepping out into the sun again.

La Roche Posay Anthelios AC Facial Matte Fluid SPF 30

Perfect for the face, this matte sunscreen won’t make your visage super shiny or greasy. If 30 isn’t enough for you, the AC line does have higher SPFs available. I love this sunscreen as it’s way cheaper than the Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42 (also an amazing product). The La Roche Posay version comes out like a liquid and quickly dries onto your skin as you apply it. It’s great to put under or over makeup. I usually use this La Roche Posay cream for sunscreen reapplication throughout the day. The Shiseido sunscreen, which I also love, does make your face quite chalky looking. La Roche Posay does not, making it a very superior product. Nevertheless, most of Shiseido’s products are zinc oxide-based, which helps out people who are allergic to common sunscreen ingredients (hence, the chalkiness). If you’re looking for French mineral-based sunscreens, La Roche Posay does carry some in their Anthelios line.

Avène Hydrance Optimale UV Légère SPF 20

This is my daily facial sunscreen and moisturizer in one. As you have read from my previous post on French skincare, I usually use the Riche version during the winter. This légère version has a lighter cream of course, but it still keeps my face properly moisturized. When it’s extremely hot, I apply the La Roche Posay Anthelios Matte Fluid sunscreen over the course of the day. I find that reapplying the Avène (either type) is a little too greasy for me, as it is a 2-in-1 product after all. Still, it’s a nice base and I highly recommend this product for daily use.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré

I have a love and hate relationship with Embryolisse. As popular as it is, I find that it can lead to pesky pimples and greasy faces. At least for me, it’s not meant to be applied every day. However, Embryolisse has saved my dehydrated skin many times. It’s a great moisturizer (but does not contain sunscreen) and you should keep some in your purse for emergencies. I’d recommend using it once or twice a week, or when your skin is very ravaged from being dried up in the sun. Embryolisse is a very heavy cream, so make sure not to use more than a small squeeze or two. I use this cream during the night, after a day of successful sunbathing.

Merci Handy Chill Out Love & Refreshing Face Mist in Mint

At first, I hated this product. A sample from one of my French Birchboxes, I was very confused to receive a mint-smelling facial spray. Mint isn’t exactly a scent/flavor I like… unless it’s ground-up in a Mojito. My first application wasn’t so charming either… breathing in the product while you spray it leads to a nasty coughing fit, full of mint. But a hot day on Paris completely changed my mind. Closing my eyes and holding my breath, I found out how extremely refreshing and cooling the spray is. Mint does wonders to soothe a sweaty and uncomfortable face (it’s also nice on the neck and arms). While I still love my Avène and Evian thermal sprays, the Mercy Handy Face Mist is a great way to cool down in the summer heat.

L’Occitane Amande Mains à Croquer (Almond Delicious Hands) Hand Cream

Who doesn’t have a tube of L’Occitane hand cream in their purse? Don’t fret if you’re an exception. Quickly go out and buy some now. Compact, with a spill-proof, easy-to-open cap, I love this hand cream. Almond is one of my favorite flavors/scents; it is also extremely moisturizing. It was great having this in my purse while traveling around L.A. My hands became very dry in the sand as well as on biking excursions along the beach. A must-have.

Labello Strawberry Shine Lip Balm

Before coming to France, I heard so much raving about this lip balm from a former, beloved roommate. Sadly, upon my arrival to Paris, I totally forgot the name. After trying numerous chapsticks, I finally found Labello. It was my destiny. An extremely moisturizing lip balm, I have completely abandoned Burt’s Bees for Labello. While the menthol cool of Burt’s Bees has always been a nice feel to my lips, I much prefer how beautifully plump and soft my lips are when using Labello. This pleasant scent and shine is a perfect summer companion. The color blends naturally with my lips and also features little scrubby, glittery beads which adds shine as well as exfoliation. Kinda like rubbing your lips on an actual strawberry. Buy it now!

La Roche Posay Posthelios After-Sun Face and Body Cream (not pictured)

Another reason why I didn’t get horribly sunburnt this summer is due to this special after-tanning cream. It’s so soothing, I want to use it every day as a body lotion. Petit Copain ended up being a lobster towards the end of our trip, as he kept forgetting to reapply sunscreen after his long dips in the ocean. It eased the pain of his sunburns and prevented major peeling on his back. While I wasn’t terribly sunburnt this time around, the cream seemed to reinvigorate and rehydrate my sun-baked skin. I highly recommend this product even if you don’t easily burn. It’s like adding a whole other layer of protection on your skin.

Well, that’s all for now. Enjoy the sun, readers, and keep yourself safe!

À bientôt 🙂


19 thoughts on “Using French Skincare in California

  1. These photos are wonderful! And thanks for sharing – I’m paler than pale so I use my fair share of sun block this time of the year ha


    • Thanks for commenting! I’ve never been pale my entire life until moving to France. This along with the process of aging has made my skin very sensitive to the sun! Another good sunblock that’s pretty strong (not French) is by the Japanese brand Biore. Lots of people swear by it. For me, I still prefer La Roche Posay 🙂


    • Thanks for your comment! I’m only back home in California once or twice a year. I miss sunshine. However, Paris has been having warm winters. I know the midwest is still pretty freakin’ cold though! If you’ve got dry winter skin, look for “riche” French creams. I also love the German version of Nivea cream (check the bottom of Nivea products to see where it’s processed)…. it has saved my nose from being gross, dry, and peel-y during the winter.


  2. Love me some Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, altho it can cause a few pimples on occasion. But I just love the stuff so I like mix a bit of acne products with this moisturizer and it does the job.


  3. Thanks for sharing all these tips! It’s really interesting to figure out which type of sunscreen is best for each part of your body. Interesting how different they are all over the world too!
    lily kate x


    • Thanks for commenting, Lily! Yes, I think the U.S. is really behind on sunscreen. France, Japan, South Korea, and Tawain are really innovative as they are leading the path in their sunscreen development.


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