The Beauty Guide to Paris

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Oct 15, 2015

by KATRINA LAWRENCE, Writer

Luxurious spas, salons of pampering, pharmacies filled with popular cosmetics brands... Paris’s beauty offerings are among the best in the world (which explains its immaculately groomed locals). To make yourself over à la française, add these 10 addresses to your itinerary.

Spa Nuxe

Rue Montorgueil, a paved pedestrian strip, is a food-lover’s paradise full of stores serving pungent cheeses, old-world lollies and golden baba au rhum. In the same street a different kind of feast for the senses awaits at Spa Nuxe. The popular pharmacy brand’s first spa is partly set in a 17th-century wine cellar and offers massages and facials in limestone-walled rooms complete with vaulted ceilings. Soothing water treatments take place in a pool carved from ancient stone. Finish up with a cup of herbal tea before returning to reality – and perhaps another gâteau.

32-34 rue Montorgueil, 1er 

David Mallett

Housed in a 17th-century hôtel particulier (private mansion) with honey-hued floorboards and decorated with antique and offbeat furnishings, this salon has the air of an eccentric aristocrat’s home. It’s in this light-filled space that Perth-born David Mallet has established himself as one of Paris’s most in-demand stylists, who counts Natalie Portman and Clémence Poésy among his clientele. Come here if you want that fabled French cool-girl hair: a long bob artfully tousled for that insouciant just-out-of-bed effect. Once your ’do is done, play the Parisian by shopping at nearby Place des Victoires and grabbing a bottle of vin rouge at Galerie Vivienne.

14 rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 2e

Guerlain

The grande dame of beauty, Guerlain has created some of the most legendary fragrances in the business. For an unforgettable perfume experience, venture inside the 1913 entrance to Guerlain’s boutique, which is lined with marble and illuminated by Baccarat chandeliers, and then ascend to the glittering mezzanine. Here, sniff your way through a head-spinning array of scents and have your bottle personalised with engraving and ribbon. Back on the ground floor, just next door, is a new space that’s bright and white – and perfect for make-up testing. It leads through to a restaurant where chef Guy Martin uses ingredients (vanilla, rose, jasmine, orange, bergamot) that harmonise with those of the perfumer.

68 avenue des Champs-Élysées, 8e 

Buly

This 19th-century brand founded by cosmetician Jean-Vincent Bully was recently revived and relocated to the Left Bank in a boutique that replicates an old-style Parisian apothecary. Arched wooden shelves heave with jars of colourful powders and oils, while the marble counter displays prettily wrapped soaps and aromatic facial oils for every skin condition. The natural ingredients in Buly’s products hark back to a simpler time but the formulations are cutting edge. The hero perfumes, for example, are based on water – not alcohol – for enhanced affinity with the skin.

6 rue Bonaparte, 6e 

Joëlle Ciocco

If it’s true that French women don’t get face lifts, Joëlle Ciocco could be the reason. The facialist, who is trained in epidemiology and biochemistry and has a cult following, goes deeper than most. Her star treatment is the luxurious Grand Soin, whereby the skin is thoroughly cleansed and deeply massaged. But she is also fêted for the Buccal, where the therapist works with her (rubber-gloved) hands to massage the cheek and chin muscles from inside the mouth. Relaxing it’s not but it’s less painful than other cheekbone sculpting methods. The catch? Expect to pay about €950 ($1350) – more if you book Madame Ciocco herself.

8 place de la Madeleine, 8e

Citypharma Du Four Bonaparte

French pharmacies, famed for their selection of effective and affordable skin care, can be found on practically every Parisian corner (look for the neon green cross). But this one is the best (and most fabulously located; Les Deux Magots is so close you can almost smell the hot chocolate). It’s always busy – packed with locals discussing complexion woes with their pharmacist or make-up artists stocking their kits – but worth the bustle. Add these to your basket: Embryolisse Lait-Crème, a suit-all moisturiser; Nuxe’s Bio range of beautiful organic goodness; Caudalie Beauty Elixir, a lovely skin refresher; Bioderma Sensibio H2O wipes, a gentle and easy cleansing option; and RoC retinol creams – impressively effective anti-agers.

26 rue du Four, 6e

By Terry

For the make-up brand that manages to distil the essence of Parisian chic, head to this exquisite boutique in one of Paris’s prettiest 19th-entury retail arcades, which has a black-and-white tiled floor and glass roof. While Terry de Gunzburg is inspired by classic make-up and tried-and-true ingredients such as rose, her formulations are up to date. Stock up on purse-perfect essentials (rosy blush, porcelain-finish powder and brilliant concealer) and luxurious skincare serums. Complete your makeover at Christian Louboutin, located at the other end of the arcade, which is not far from the Louvre.

36 Galerie Véro-Dodat, 1er

Diptyque

Wind your way around the maze of medieval streets in the Latin Quarter – the haunt of students and free spirits since the 12th century – until you come to the boutique of a beauty brand with just as much soul. Diptyque, which now has cult status, launched in 1961 and quickly established itself as a leading scent-maker. Though it’s lauded for its array of atmospheric candles – deservedly so – a great souvenir is the wardrobe-enhancing Scented Oval, shaped like the brand’s logo.

34 boulevard Saint-Germain, 5e 

Christophe Robin

For the ultimate in hair glamour, Christophe Robin is your homme. Hair guru to Catherine Deneuve and Kylie Minogue, Robin is the master of balayage (a blonding technique where colour is painted on freehand). A session at his salon will make you feel like a star, from the moment you walk through the gilded doors of the hotel, which is opposite the Jardin des Tuileries. Once you’ve been ushered into the sumptuous suite, send for Champagne from Bar 228 and luxuriate in an inimitable beauty experience.

Suite 128-129, Hôtel Le Meurice, 228 rue de Rivoli, 1er

Lubin

The delightfully named Street of the Ducklings is steeped in history; it was here that Henri Murger – author of the book on which La Bohème is based – lived with “Mimi”. Lubin’s been making perfumes since 1798, when founder Pierre François Lubin won over Empress Joséphine. Today, the fragrances often take their cue from the past; Grisette, a fresh rose scent, is named after 19th-century Paris’s good-time girls. Buying a creation from this niche brand ensures you’ll return home smelling exquisite. 

21 rue des Canettes, 6e