The best beauty brands and skincare products in Spain uncovered for achieving a gorgeous, youthful glow.
The women in Spain are quite beautiful and as an American living in Barcelona, I’ve often wondered what their skincare secrets are.
Minimal makeup, long locks with a true sun-kissed ombre AND glowing skin. Youthful, dewey and bright complexions. As someone struggling to keep my skin hydrated and toned from the effects of hard city water in Barcelona, this got me thinking!
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What do the local women here know that I don’t? What are their skincare secrets? Could it be one magic beauty product or perhaps none at all (since of course when it comes to beauty “less is really MORE”)?
I decided to stop guessing and started asking questions. One of my dear friends Inma, a native Catalan and also the founder and CEO of Barcelona’s Farmaschool, is a wealth of knowledge in this department! She runs her own pharmacy in Barcelona (which I’ve come to learn is just as much of a BEAUTY business here as pharmaceuticals!) and is a skincare brands guru.
Follow her on Instagram at @farmaschool to stay updated on the latest trends in the European skincare industry.
She shared some fascinating info with me. In many ways, the skincare and beauty industry in Spain is similar to the U.S. (for example, women aren’t afraid to invest in professional treatments such as those involving lasers and injections).
But in other ways, the culture of skincare here is quite different…
Skincare Secrets from Spain Discovered
While the “name” behind a product is something to consider here, it certainly doesn’t drive decision making for consumers in the same way it does in other parts of the globe.
What do I mean? Discovering niche pharma beauty brands is all the rage here, not necessarily the ones behind shiny department store counters.
These brands that have a story to tell and a history to share. Labels that take less time on fancy packaging and take more consideration into the concentration and natural ingredients of each product.
Skincare Brands Developed in Pharmacies
Here in Europe, some of the best skincare brands in the world have emerged from the science behind pharmacies. These labels developed from pharmacists that loved studying the impact of natural ingredients on the skin. When they witnessed near miraculous results, they knew they were onto something big!
And a brand was born.
The pharmacists that work selling these beauty products? Imagine having your own personal esthetician just standing behind the counter waiting to answer all of your skincare questions! It’s a beautiful and extremely smart business concept!
Which explains why many European countries such as Spain, France and Italy have maintained this “science meets consumer” approach to selling skincare. Check out these brands I’ve fallen in love with since moving to Spain from the U.S.
gh. (Gema Herrerias) – Spain
Developed in Seville in the south of Spain, these products boast high concentration with raw materials and efficiency testing (just check the impressive ingredients label!).
In the past, I never would have considered washing my face with an oil cleanser – until trying gh.’s Natural Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover (24.95 euro/100mL). It’s AMAZING, girls, and leaves my skin feeling super hydrated but not…oily!
Notice the plain white bottles and black text. Very minimal design, farma chic!
La Roche Posay – France
The origin of this brand starts with water. The natural thermal spring water discovered in La Roche Posay, France had remarkable results when consumed back in the 1970s. Since then, the thermal water is used as a key ingredient in La Roche Posay product development.
The formula is smooth, not sticky like many other Vitamin C skincare products.
Vichy Laboratories– France
For more than 80 years, Vichy has prided itself on the use of special mineralizing water in all of their products. Vichy water (are you noticing a trend here, ladies?) is obtained from volcanoes in the protected region of Auvergne, France.
It contains more than 15 minerals and vitamins essential for skin vitality. The brand also dedicates itself to sustainable business practices, with a focus on protecting the environment. So yea, we like them!
Never before have I had such a love affair with a skincare product as I do with Vichy’s LiftActiv Hyalu Face Cream (37 euros/60mL) which is meant to firm, hydrate and lift aging skin.
My skin gets an immediate surge of moisture and rough patches are smoother as soon as I apply each morning for my daily face cream.
Germinal – Spain
True innovators of skincare development, this brand which started in the 1970s were the first of their kind to begin using collagen in their pharmacy grade products. And today they’re considered one of the leading skincare brands in Spain.
Their newest product, Deep Action Antioxidant Day and Night Treatment will transform your skin from tired and dull to radiant and youthful. Each set contains 30 capsules (for day/night) of this Vitamin E and collagen-rich formula.
The Spanish Daily Skincare Routine
If you were hoping for the answer to a quick one-step routine, you came to the wrong place! The women in Spain understand that the secret to healthy, glowing and youthful skin is time and care. Each step of their daily skincare regimen has meaning and importance.
Those carefree days of going to bed without ever washing off your eye makeup are OVER! Time and care are the secrets here for achieving the radiant skin we all want.
Not quite the 10-step routine that famous Japanese beauty maven, SOKO GLAM, recommends – but a close second.
STEP 1: Removing Makeup and Dirt
Wash with oil-based cleanser such as Gema Herrerias’s Natural Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover or cleansing milk and remove with water. If you have acne-prone skin, apply an oil-free mouse or gel cleanser instead and rinse with warm water.
STEP 2: Remove Excess Makeup and Dirt Left Behind
Remaining dirt or oil left from foundation or eye makeup can be rinsed off with any micellar water product and a soft face cotton pad. (Bear in mind, some micellar waters can be left on skin while others need to be rinsed off – check directions!)
STEP 3: Special Treatment Product Directly on Clean Skin
A fresh, clean facial canvas deserves some pampering! In the morning is when to apply a special treatment product like the above mentioned La Roche Posay Pure Vitamin C10.
In the evening, try a more concentrated anti-aging product to target those maturing skin cells while you sleep such as LRP’s B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
STEP 4: All About Eye Care
The most sensitive skin on your entire face is of course under and around the eye area. The layers of skin are said to be as thin as the peel of an onion – so require a special step all for themselves to target fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and puffiness.
When applying a nighttime eye cream, such as Vichy Mineral 89 Eyes Serum, never wipe like moisturizer. Always dab with fingertips. Gentle is key here, guys.
STEP 5: Moisturize, Protect and Restore
If you must cheat and skip a few steps here and there (though it’s never recommended! – again, the whole consistency thing.) be sure to at least throw make an effort with Step 4.
The moisturizing, protecting and restoring products, such as my personal favorites by Vichy, work best when combined with other skincare treatments as listed above, but will still perform well enough alone in hydrating and smoothing skin during the day and evening.
Spain’s Most Popular Skincare Product
It’s not a cream, serum, lotion or mask! It’s a skincare product that works from the outside in. How groundbreaking! That’s right, guys, the pink collagen powder is added to water and enjoyed as a drink.
Six unique components are found in this single product developed in the country of Andorra (between France and Spain) to achieve a 360 degree anti-aging effect.
Just two teaspoons mixed with water daily unlock the stimulation of dermal cell activity. The result? Greater luminosity and firmness with a natural tone.
Skincare Trends to Leave Alone
Remember hearing that hemorrhoid cream would help with under eye dark circles and puffiness? Welp, it doesn’t!
How about the one where anti-cellulite gel reduces darkness from bruises? Nope!
Lastly, what about women using male-specific products because they believe the higher concentration or potency will make them more effective? I mean, really?! I’ll just leave this one right here…
The bottom line is when you think of your skin as a treasure, you’ll do your research! And stay away from some of the hokey-pokey trends out there. This is where the women in Spain who take care of and invest in their skin know the difference.
I’m Never Going Back…
It never occurred to me when our family moved from New Jersey to Barcelona that I would eventually run out of my staple skincare products. I guess I always thought they would be easy to find here.
But I’m so thankful I was forced to go outside my beauty comfort zone and try new European pharmacy grade brands. Not sure I’ll ever go back to my old labels. Sorry, Clinique.
What started as a treasure hunt to replace my usual favorites turned into an adventure of trial and discovery, thanks to my amazing friend Inma. And despite the fact that I’ll be turning 40 in a few months, I have never been happier with my skin!
The women in Spain have gorgeous glowing skin for a reason. They know their shit!
I am excited to hear what your experience has been with trying out new brands in the market where you live. Any funny stories to share? Which products are you loving these days?
Love to know your thoughts below.