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European pharmacies are treasure troves for beauty buys - where the most notorious of the industries 'holy grail' products can be found tucked away amongst shelves and shelves of skincare. 

I recently spent a few days in Milan, dragging my boyfriend into just about every farmacia we passed on the hunt for a selection of the most infamous products they had to offer.

Here's what I got my paws on. I've included a mini review of each, and thrown in details of online stockists in case you can't wait for your next trip to Europe.


A refreshing toner with a distinct rose scent. It's 100 year old + was formula created by English chemist Henry Roberts in Florence, and is touted as ideal to use on the face and neck after cleansing to tone skin, revive natural freshness, and prevent redness and irritations caused by external agents. Apparently the rose extract also has emollient and antioxidant properties that help prevent the first signs of ageing (in the long run).

In a nutshell, I found that it takes care of any makeup residue missed during cleansing and leaves the skin feeling fresh, clear and hydrated with a wash of a delicate scent of parma violets. The vintage style blue plastic bottle sang out to me from the shelves, looks a treat sat on my dresser, and at less than €4 this purchase was an easy decision. 

The only downside to this product is the inclusion of Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone in the ingredients list - both preservatives which have reps for occasionally causing irritation and allergic reactions, so perhaps one to avoid if you have particularly sensitive skin.

Available online at Amazon for $14.99 (an insane mark up)


An eye gel that promises to provide intense hydration (with glycerin and hyaluronic acid) and reduce puffiness and bags (with caffeine). I find it refreshes, smoothes and tightens - leaving a great base for your concealer - and aids in 'de-puffing' the eye area in conjunction with the step by step massaging technique described in the application instructions.

A strong contender for my daytime eye cream slot, though I think I would go for something a little more nourishing to use overnight.

Available online at Escentual for £12.75


The holy grail in lip balms. It's been bigged up across the blogosphere and I can confirm it whole heartedly deserves it's praise. I've spent the last three years attached to a pot of Nivea Creme - and seconds after applying Reve De Miel found myself well and truly converted. 

It has a citrus scent and a (super hard to describe) almost matte texture - perfect as a lip base as it I find the Vaseline-esque textures in this category tend to cause lip products to slip and slide all over the place. You only need to pat on the tiniest amount and you can instantly feel how nourishing it is (hello essential oils!). Best of all, it lasts for a good few hours before reapplication is needed, so the days of being chained to my lip balm are finally over!

It may seem expensive for a lip balm, but there's a ton of product packed into that frosted glass jar and with only the tiniest dab of product needed per application you'll find your repurchasing sessions much further apart than usual. 

Available online at Space NK for £9.50


The holy grail in cleansing micellar waters. I've put off trying this for the longest time, instead choosing to use the L'Oreal (wasteful packaging) and Garnier (doesn't remove mascara) versions and I wish I had given in earlier. It does everything it's hyped up for. It removes all traces of makeup (including waterproof mascara) and soothes, cools and cleanses skin on one or two cotton pads - making your daily makeup removal session a treat instead of a chore.

It's an alcohol and soap free formula which reduces redness and contains decongesting active ingredients to prevent irritation and leave the skin feeling refreshed. 

Available online at Escentual for £9.99 (250ml, other sizes available)


A backstage beauty cult favourite used to soothe any kind of irritation including insect bites, allergies, sore noses, cuts, scratches and perhaps most notoriously - chapped lips. Not to be confused as a lip balm (although it does help soothe intensely dry lips if applied liberally then wiped off after ten minutes) - it's biggest selling point is as an excellent lip primer. It's matte texture patted onto lips smoothes away cracks and dry patches ready to be doused in your finest lip stains, sticks and glosses.

It's comprised chiefly of petroleum jelly - although it also contains the homeopathic ingredients calendula, phytolacca, bryony and benzoic. Homeopathy works by using a highly dilute substance to trigger our bodies own healing processes.

Available online at This Is Beauty Mart for £12.50 (40g, smaller size available)

A touch more inviting than your average, grungy British chemist.

More Bioderma than you can shake a stick at.

What are your European pharmacy must haves?