A French Pharmacists 6 Secrets to Your Best Skin Ever
Photo: Francois Roux / Courtesy of Bonjout

A French Pharmacist’s 6 Secrets to Your Best Skin Ever 

“In France, pharmacies really run the skin-care industry; When you have any questions about products, you always go to the pharmacy to find the best,” says Natacha Bonjout, a French pharmacist who’s been living and working in New York for over a decade. After 15 years researching skin, Bonjout’s eponymous beauty brand Bonjout launches today with a single do-it-all hero called Le Balm Skin Savior Solid Sérum.

To create a mix of actives friendly for all skin types, from sensitive to acne-prone, Bonjout created a non-comedogenic formula that contains native plant stem cells sourced from the South of France and more than 60 actives designed to help skin repair and regenerate itself. She emphasizes that this unique formulation method using whole plant cells creates true biocompatibility with skin for an instant glow that gets even better over time. Needless to say, it’s in line with French culture’s skin-first approach, which often skews  90% skin care and 10% makeup. “The cosmetic is your best friend, but it will never replace the inner power of your skin,” she says. Another pillar? There’s beauty in simplicity. Her personal beauty ethos is always “consume less, but consume better.” From gentle cleansing to natural remedies, below Bonjout shares her six secrets for your best complexion.

 1. Use Actives That Work With—Not Against—Each Other 

“Don’t overload your skin—only use actives that work together,” says Bonjout, who spent five years combining the correct levels of actives for Le Balm in order to avoid incorrectly “cocktailing” different products. A good mix, for example, is a Vitamin C and a protective SPF, or a retinol and a hydrating hyaluronic acid like Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier. “Avoid applying retinol with a Vitamin C,” she says, noting it can create irritation and inflammation, while layering retinol and niacinamide will simply “cancel each other out” and is an expensive waste of actives. “A good skin-care routine is about targeted products that really deliver because our skin doesn’t like being overstressed,” she says.  

2. Skip Your Morning Cleanse

To protect your skin barrier, Bonjout suggests gently double cleansing at night and then in the morning, rinsing your skin with thermal water or spritzing on a toning mist. It’s “the total opposite of the squeaky clean” American method for a reason: “Every night, your skin reconstitutes its flora to protect itself,” she says. “Simply rinsing in the morning with thermal water like Avène Thermal Spring Water or a gentle flower water toner like Herbivore rose Hibiscus Face Mist is all you need to do before starting your day.” At night, “double cleansing is capital, especially when I wear sunscreen or makeup, to remove Manhattan’s polluted particles,” she says. “When I stay home, I only gently clean my skin with my Collosol Eau de Lait or micellar water.” She likes Bioderma Micellar Water (“French famous” since the early’ 90s) as a first step, and Caudalie Vinoclean Foaming Cleanser or Tata Harper Softening Cleanser as the second “double” cleanse. 

Photo: Francois Roux / Courtesy of Bonjout

 3. Apply Everything—Including Your Makeup—With Your Fingers

“I always use my fingers to apply makeup,” says Bonjout. “Massage is therapeutic for boosting our confidence and reducing stress and anxiety,” she explains, adding that it creates a window for “less worry, better sleep, and glowing skin.” She chose her innovative waterless texture for Le Balm so that it could be warmed between fingers and massaged into skin for “immediate soothing and regeneration.” She points out that in France, people get facials at least once a month, often for their healing power of touch. “The most incredible facial I have ever tried for the skin is Joelle Ciocco in Paris. She’s the French facialist who invented the ‘buccal massage,’ working not only on the outside of the face but also on the inside through the oral cavity,” she says. “It looks very strange, but it’s worth it.” And for those stateside in the New York area, Bonjout’s friend Isabelle Bellis trained with Ciocco for a similar intraoral massage technique.

4. Embrace Natural Remedies 

Bonjout emphasizes that while science is always at the forefront in French pharmacy, natural remedies are respected for their organic healing abilities (like the potent plant cells in her Le Balm). She also recommends royal jelly, a nutrient-dense substance “produced by worker honeybees,” she says, adding, “it’s the only food for the queen bee.” It can be eaten or applied directly to skin as the “best immune system booster,” and it’s packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation and boost wound healing. She buys ArkoRoyal Organic Royal Jelly 2500 mg 20 vials in France, and mentions that Beehive Botanicals Fresh Royal Jelly, 100% Pure could be an equivalent swap. “It’s rich in carbs, protein, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals,” she says.

5. Reach for Mineral Sunscreen

While any sun protection is better than no protection, Bonjout strongly recommends using mineral sunscreen instead of chemical formulas whenever possible. “Chemical sunscreens can give you acne, burning, itching, and stinging of the skin,” she cautions. “The best sunscreens are 100% mineral filters, and these ones can be used every day.” According to Bonjout, French pharmacists swear by La-Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50, which is a 100% mineral option. And then, for a hybrid formula, there’s the beloved Elta MD UV Clear Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 formula that’s powered by part mineral (zinc oxide) and part chemical (octinoxate) ingredients.

6. Less is More 

“Your skin-care routine shouldn’t contain too many cosmetics from too many different brands,” says Bonjout, noting that multi-use skin care and a light hand is the French way. She uses Le Balm as the first and last step of her routine (noting that it can be layered after a light serum like the Caudalie Vinoperfect serum) and before applying makeup. “If I had to go to a desert island and you ask me to choose just one product, I’d say Le Balm,” she says of creating an 8-in-1 solution. “It’s a serum, moisturizer, nourishing cream, eye cream, night cream, overnight mask, ointment treatment, and lip care. I’ve been working on this formulation for five years to get the product that gives you the perfect radiant ‘je ne sais quoi.’” And who doesn’t want that?