Sunday in France: a brief foray into the magical world of

Instead of the usual “New…” widget, I thought I’d do something a bit different this Sunday – a glance at a few new products in French Sephora stores, with a bit of babble about the site (and beauty market) enjoyed by our beauty-addict counterparts over there.

I have a soft spot for the online shop, even more so now than I did a few months ago. Once the newness of the revamp wore off, I found that I… don’t really like it, to be honest. I’m quite fond of the aesthetic, but I’m a lot less crazy about the actual functionality. (That said, though; the Canada/US site has ingredients listed for more of the products, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.)

The brands

As could be expected, Sephora shops in France carry a different product range than those in North America — more skincare, more fragrance; less makeup. They carry different brands, at times, too: they get Chanel, Serge Lutens, and La Prairie, for instance, (those lucky dogs), but miss out on Korres, Fresh, and a number of our newer brands, like Ellis Faas or Edward Bess.

Strangely enough, I spied a few North American drugstore brands on the French site; Sally Hansen and Hawaiian Tropic intermingled amongst the expensive skincare and impressive fragrance ranges.

The addiction

The last time I went through the site this thoroughly (I think it was about a year ago), I noticed that they had a bit of an obsession with travelling beauty products. It wasn’t just a passing fancy, though, apparently, because there’s still a small-but-highly-visible section on airplane-appropriate products!

(I don’t know why, but I find that absolutely hilarious. I’m aware that, objectively, it isn’t funny at all. It doesn’t really seem to be making any difference in my reaction, though.)

The bestsellers

Of course, you can’t have a post about a foreign beauty site without going over the country’s bestsellers list. In France, 12 of the top 20 bestsellers are skincare, 3 are makeup, and 5 are fragrance; in Canada, only 8 are skincare, with 9 being makeup, and 3 being fragrance.

If you look at the products themselves, things get even more interesting. French women tend to focus their makeup purchases on mascara, while Canadians buy more base products. (Hey, maybe that focus on skincare is paying off, after all!) The Urban Decay Naked 2 palette is the only bestselling product the two sites have in common.

In skincare, the Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector is the only product to grace both bestseller lists. The list is dominated by Clarins (which, as we all know, I have a soft spot a mile wide for), but the brand doesn’t appear in Canada’s top 20 at all. We’re apparently just running around buying tinted moisturizers and BB creams like crazy at the moment, apparently, which–I cannot tell a lie–actually sounds pretty accurate.

Different, too, are our tastes in fragrance – I’d say the French have more refined olfactory palettes, but that wouldn’t explain how (or why, or what?!) a Hello Kitty EdT made it onto their bestseller list and Balenciaga Paris didn’t. Again, there was only one product in common between the lists: the ever-classic Dior J’Adore. (Don’t you just love it when patterns keep up being all pattern-y?)

And, finally, the reason why I was nosing around to begin with:

They’re just so cute! {1} {2} {3}

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  • mostlysunnybunny

    Aargh the lucky French who have Sephora! We don't here, and the shipping is a bit outrageous if I remember right. Now you know why the Belgians go shopping in neighboring countries all the time ;)
    My recent post Would You Help Me Make My Wish List for the First Friends & Family Sale in Belgium?

    • I has a sad for you and your lack of Sephora :(

      Okay, the sad is over now. The silver lining: the countries over there are all quite close together, and it gives you a good excuse to travel! :p I'd have to drive for a good eight hours before hitting a border… and a two days solid if I wanted to cross into the country after that >.<

  • I absolutely adore Sephora France, both the website and the brick & mortar stores. You're right that there is a completely different aesthetic: much more emphasis placed on fragrance & skin care. This different combination makes shopping somewhere similar to what we have here a very fun experience.

    ♥ Jessica
    My recent post Grown Under Glass Multipurpose Balm

    • As much as I love fragrance and skincare, I kind of like that we get all the bright, pretty colours :p I haven't left the country in ages (aaaages), but I miss shopping in other countries! It's always so interesting, no matter what you're picking up.

  • Interesting! I've been to one or two Sephoras in France, and they are the same, yet different…haha. Helpful, right? I will go back one day, I've promised myself.
    My recent post Foodie Friday! #7: Yeast Breads

    • Ugh, I'm so envious of you, Larie! One of these days, I will finally make it to Europe. I will. *stares down a map resolutely*

  • !! 11 euros for Sally Hansen base/top coats! And I thought the Canadian markup was bad :P
    I thought this was very interesting look at cultural differences in beauty though. Reminds me of a picture showing the different top-selling MAC lipstick shades by country.
    My recent post 16/06/12 Link Love

    • I know! Eep D:

      Okay, I'm googling that. I know I've heard it referenced before, but I'm not sure I've ever actually seen it portrayed visually!

  • messywands

    I need to go to France!

    (My mother actually told me I've been there – the Louvre, the Eiffel Towers, the works – but I have no recollection. Not one! Not of any street or any ridiculously beautiful person! So I maintain that I've never been)
    My recent post Dior Addict Extreme Lipstick in 476 Plaza

    • I need to go, too!

      (She must have gotten you mixed up with her other gorgeously-cheekboned daughter :p)

  • My Lucite Dreams

    What a great post. I was So interested to see the favorites. The make up is very basic and simple. It looks like their own brand sells big there.

    • Thanks, lovely! I had a lot of fun putting this one together ;)

  • NeenaJ

    Excellent post! You have me thoroughly intrigued and am now doing some poking around of my own on