3 French Beauty Secrets

Forget Eiffel Tower trinkets and Ladurée macaroons. From contraband sunscreen to cellulite-burning tea, here are the souvenirs you really want to smuggle back from France.

I was just in Paris for a fabulous fragrance launch (more details later — the scent's not out until March 2011, so I'm not allowed to talk about it until then!) and took the opportunity to stock up on my favorite French beauty products (opens in new tab). Either unavailable in the States, or very, very difficult to find (not to mention much more expensive), these goodies are worth the hassle of checking your luggage.

french beauty product: Gemey Cils Demasq Démaquillant Yeux 2 En 1

(Image credit: Koryn Kennedy)

Gemey Cils Demasq Démaquillant Yeux 2 En 1

Gemey is the French version of Maybelline New York (opens in new tab) (you can even see the familar Maybelline logo towards the bottom of the bottle label) but for some reason, this amazing eye makeup remover isn't sold here. As a fan of super long-lasting mascaras like Kanebo 38C Separating & Lengthening (opens in new tab) and Cover Girl Lash Blast Waterproof (opens in new tab), I need a heavy-duty cleanser that won't irritate my sensitive eyes. This Gemey formula contains two parts (blue and clear) that you shake together to activate the formula. It's surprisingly non-greasy, yet all traces of even my most stubborn smoky eyes are easily wiped off. It's available at supermarkets like Monoprix and Franprix and costs less than $10!

french beauty product: La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+ Fluide Extreme

(Image credit: Koryn Kennedy)

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+ Fluide Extreme

If you're serious about your sun protection, you probably know that one of the best ingredients for blocking UVA (the longer rays that cause wrinkles and cancer) is Mexoryl. And while there was a lot of fanfare a few years back when Mexoryl was FDA-approved, here's the catch: There are two forms of Mexoryl (SX and XL), and as you've probably guessed from the name of my French sunscreen souvenir, Mexoryl SX (opens in new tab) was FDA-approved, but the more effective Mexoryl XL hasn't been okayed yet and still must be smuggled back from French pharmacies. As if the broad-spectrum sun shielding isn't enough of a reason to religiously use the Anthelios XL sunscreen, it also has a unique lightweight silky texture that won't clog pores. The trick is that you have to shake the bottle vigorously (hmmm, there seems to be a trend here with shaking products to activate them) before you apply the liquid.

french beauty product: Mariage Frères Casablanca Tea

(Image credit: Koryn Kennedy)

Mariage Frères Casablanca Tea

The Marie Claire beauty department stumbled upon the addictive Casablanca tea (opens in new tab) by chance (it was a gift). But once we started drinking it, we fell in love. This delicate drink has a green tea base that's subtley blended with mint and bergamot to produce a special flavor (no need for lemon, milk, or sugar). Also, the mint tea helps with digestion and the green tea speeds up metabolism. Plus, it's energizing, which makes this the perfect afternoon pick-me-up (and is probably the real reason why French women don't get fat). I even thought my cellulite looked better after a month of drinking this delicious elixir! While you can go to the charming Colonial-style tea house and shop (opens in new tab) in Paris' Marais to purchase the tea leaves, Mariage Frères tea is also available at French department stores like Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, and Printemps.

What are your favorite beauty souvenirs?