Aficionados from around the world recognise France as the land of fine living, noting the country's age-old reputation for fine art, food and wine. French toiletries are no exception to the rule as many designers and manufacturers make their home in the hot spot of French culture, Paris. Though it's impossible to list all of France's famous toiletries at once, some of the country's most popular exports have reputations that span the globe.
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Savon de Marseilles, a traditional handmade soap crafted from vegetable oil and other natural products, is perhaps the most famous sort of French soap. Speciality retailers sell bars and cubes of vegetable oil Savon de Marseilles soap accented with elements as diverse as clay, mint, oat bran, olive, rose honey and vanilla. Other popular French soaps include soaps from Duox --- named as part of the "Best of France" collection by "GQ" magazine --- which are made from shea butter, olive oil and palm oil. Mass market french soap manufacturers include Garnier, Nuxe, Le Petit Marseillais and Yves Rocher.
The Garnier company, a division of popular french toiletries manufacturer L'Oreal, offers shampoos, conditioners and styling products made with fruit essences. Le Petit Marseillais makes fruit-scented shampoos and conditioners while the French Palmolive company manufactures a line of natural shampoo made from elements such as honey, milk, eggs and vanilla. Clairol's popular line of Herbal Essences shampoos come in a variety of fruit scents, from mango to kiwi. Clairol also offers hair styling products, as does Jacques Dessange.
Eau de Toilette
Of all the toiletries made in France, eau de toilette is perhaps the most sought after. French couture house Carven offers the gardenia and citrus heavy Ma Griffe and minty Vetiver, scents that have been around since the late '40s and '50s, respectively. Other couture houses such as Chanel, Lapidus and Christian Dior create their own perfumes, including the popular Miss Dior, which features a gardenia base. Coudray's eau de toilettes date back to 1822 and includes the floral-scented Esperys. For men, Lacoste makes scents with citrus, pepper and sandalwood bases while Oxbow offers scents of mint, cannabis and patchouli. Hundreds of old and new cosmetic companies, couture houses, designers and artists offer signature French perfumes and colognes.
Cosmetics and Skin Care
Major French companies such as L'Oreal, Chanel, Bourjous and Estee Lauder manufacture and distribute cosmetics around the world. Their products include foundation, powder, moisturisers, lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara. Galenic, Vichy Avene and Darphin offer cosmetics such as eye make-up and detoxifiers, while Lea Nature and Caudalie's toiletries focus on creams and formulas to sooth and protect skin, such as anti-ageing lotions, moisturising creams and lip conditioners.
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