The last place to be? Make-up shops! Better than shopping, it's a "cosmetic experience". For a fabulous look, radiant smile and bright complexion, the capital has a number of concept stores and showrooms for cosmetics brands, including several created by professional make-up artists. Putting the emphasis on innovation and seduction, these places often offer make-up tips and advice. You can try their products, have your make-up done, and sometimes even have a tea or coffee whilst having a make-up lesson. Buying lipstick or eye shadow turns into an outing. You can walk around, test products, watch a video, flick through a catalogue on the latest trends, discover new and limited edition products.
Many professional cosmetics brands have opened shops in Paris, great for foundations in a very wide range of shades, long-wear products that last through everything life throws at you and even unusual colours to add your make-up looks. For example, highly-regarded brands M.A.C., Bobbi Brown Studio and Make Up for Ever, with experience doing the make-up for top models walking the runways, have found a market for themselves providing everything make-up lovers could ever want and opened a number of shops. They have a very wide choice of products and the expert sales assistants will be delighted to offer their advice to help you find the best products for you.
When it comes to affordable cosmetics, Italian brand KIKO Milano has hit on the perfect formula: make-up, skincare and on-trend accessories suitable for all skin types. Bourjois has been up there with the most versatile and well-loved brands ever since it was created in 1863.
With its firm commitment to natural ingredients and very strong identity, Yves Rocher has established itself among the go-to places for beauty products, whether you’re looking for skincare products, make-up or a wellness treat, all at low prices.
It’s no surprise that Paris’s department stores, covering everything from fashion to homeware, including handbags and other accessories, also provide their customers with fantastic big beauty sections. They’ve got the biggest names side-by-side: luxury brands with their cosmetics lines, well-reputed high-street brands, exclusive brands from around the world and new small companies offering innovative products and services. And it’s not just shopping; some offer other services such as make-up classes, workshops, exclusive presentations and meet-and-greets.
At BHV Marais, for example, you can get an eco-friendly Kure Bazaar manicure. Galeries Lafayette regularly provides workshops and makeovers and has a space - Hair Galerie - dedicated to highly-specialized haircare brands. Printemps de la Beauté, as well as having its very own Nuxe spa, holds fascinating workshops like their perfume making ones in partnership with Maison JUS.
As for Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, it’s all about full experiences at its department store on rue du Bac. You can go to the Lip Lab to find the perfect lipstick colour, the eyebrow bar to get your brows threaded or the various treatment rooms and areas like the Holissence area or the FaceKult studio. The store also provides its customers with an organic hair salon and two nail bars. Last but not least, Samaritaine Paris Pont Neuf, which reopened in 2021, has an excellent selection of beauty brands as well as a beauty studio where you can treat yourself to a Kure Bazaar manicure, a new hair style or a hair treatment from an innovative brand or an expert.
Some big names in beauty require no introduction. Sephora, Marionnaud and Nocibé have long been go-to shops for cosmetics from France and around the world. Their shelves are always well-stocked and never disappoint, with make-up, perfume, skincare, beauty gadgets, little gifts and more. Stocking small brands and increasingly eco-friendly, innovative and unusual products, they put a huge amount of creativity into opening up a world of beauty possibilities.
Concept stores are regularly opening up in Paris, some specialising in a particular area and others more general. Oh My Cream describes itself as the alternative beauty concept store and stocks responsible brands with a leaning towards cleaner, lighter beauty products.
At Publicis Drugstore the focus has always been on big luxury brands with recognized expertise.
Consumers are being increasingly careful about what they put on their skin and are mindful of the importance of protecting the environment. Aware of this, many shops are selling cleaner and/or more responsible cosmetics. Among them are brands such as Weleda, Melvita, Lush, Aesop and L'Occitane , which strive constantly to improve their formulas or make more use of aromatherapy or phytotherapy, or openly support important causes.
Some of France’s biggest chains of organic shops, like Naturalia, Biocoop and La Vie Claire, have created beauty areas within their stores, where you can be confident you’ll find certified organic products.
Organic cosmetics shop Mademoiselle Bio (which has multiple branches in Paris) has selected over 1,000 items for its shelves. They cover everything from haircare and skincare to perfume, toiletries and make-up, as well as wellness more generally.
For simple products with no packaging, head to The Naked Shop with its wide range of bulk liquids, solid soaps, shampoos and toothpastes, toothbrushes and reusable cleansing pads.
Lastly, if you want to know for certain what’s in your cosmetics, what could be better than making them yourself? You can find basic ingredients at Aroma-Zone or Rougier & Plé, among others. You can also book your DIY face ritual workshop, or create your own lipstick through the What's Up Paname platform.
While the majority of shops selling beauty products stock brands and products specifically for men - although many products can be used by anyone, regardless of gender - some shops are specialized in men’s grooming. You can buy lots of products at barbers and spas. Other than that, you should make sure to check out Comptoir de l’Homme, which features a number of brands. The original creations by brand Horace have proven popular.
To find out more about its products and receive expert advice from professionals, head to one of its boutiques.
Paris excels in the art of perfumery and some wonderful perfume houses have shops in the city showing off their creations. At Annick Goutal, the focus has been placed on delicate notes and childhood memories to create mischievous and luxurious fragrances. Delicacy is also the name of the game at Fragonard, which demonstrates all the expertise of its hometown Grasse in its traditional fragrances. Make sure you take some time to browse one of its boutiques or go and visit the Fragonard perfume museum in the 9th arrondissement to be completely immersed in the fascinating world of perfume.
The brand État libre d’Orange seeks to spark emotions with bold and striking creations. Lastly, more wonderful experiences await at perfume houses Francis Kurkdjian, Frédéric Malle, Serge Lutens and Stéphanie De Bruijn, and at Le Studio des Parfums. You’ll be taken on a sensory journey into the worlds of these prestigious brands.
Did you forget to pack something for your holiday? Specialist shops are there to help you out when you need them, conveniently located in the city’s train stations and airports. At Gare Montparnasse, you can find what you need at Sephora or Yves Rocher, and the same is true for Gare de Lyon. At Gare du Nord, you can also stock up on affordable make-up at Kiko or natural cosmetics at L’Occitane before boarding your train. Not forgetting Gare de l'Est and Gare d'Austerlitz. There’s also a whole range of beauty brands available in the duty-free areas of Paris’s airports, Orly and Roissy - Charles de Gaulle. Perfumes, make-up, creams... You can find anything you want - and sometimes for less.
The pharmacies of Paris, dotted all around the city, are great places to stop off when you’re on the go, with essentials from big brands.