Every skincare devotee has a particular trend they favour over all others. Current favourites include multi-step Korean regimes; the all-natural approach popularised in New Zealand by brands like Trilogy and Antipodes; and the French pharmacy trend, where inexpensive but highly-prized products offered at French pharmacies are sought out by overseas shoppers. Tracking down these items online from New Zealand has been challenging until now, when an ecommerce venture called Ines has rounded up the best of them.
We spoke with Ines co-founders Zoe Philpott and Sarah Jackson.
For the uninitiated, can you explain the cult of French pharmacy products?
French pharmacy hair and skin products have achieved their worldwide cult status due to their highly effective formulas that are dermatologically led, developed with specific skincare concerns in mind. They have fewer parabens, fragrances and colourants allowing them to effectively treat even with the most sensitive skin types. These are affordable, no-fuss products that are found in the local French pharmacy, yet are so effective they’re coveted around the world by everyone from the biggest models to backstage professionals and industry experts.
Besides their excellent skincare goods, France itself seems to have this enduring mystique for the non-French. What is it about French products and culture that customers are so entranced by?
The French have a renowned way of making everything seem effortless yet elegant. They notoriously prioritise the finer things in life; beauty, fashion, cuisine.
Beauty is not conventional and women don’t hide or try to alter their natural features, but flaunt them. Unlike other western cultures, in France more emphasis is placed on the base health of skin and hair, as opposed to products to change or cover, meaning their skincare is superlative, scientifically led and utilitarian. Looking after skin is of importance from an early age, they have age-old remedies and tricks that are passed down from mothers to daughters.
Unique features are considered beautiful, femininity is celebrated and empowered, which encourages a certain confidence and allure that entices non-French. A 25-year-old woman is considered just as beautiful as an elegantly-aged 50-year-old.
How did you go about translating this Francophile appeal into a retail proposition for the New Zealand market?
We want to translate this skin-first approach and encourage beauty consumers to focus on skin and hair health, through effective daily and simplified skincare regimes. All our products serve a purpose, and are the perfect accompaniment to any higher-grade cosmetic skincare treatments.
From a retail perspective, we want to offer product that is well-price-pointed, so good daily-use skincare is accessible and affordable.
What drove you to set up Ines?
The initial concept of Ines stemmed from the idea of bringing ‘cult’ products to New Zealand that are readily available around the world yet not available here. These products are iconic and favoured by industry experts, models, beauty editors and are on every ‘top shelf’ - products such as Bioderma Sensibio H2O; Embryolisse Crème La Concentrate; Leonor Greyls Masks and Christophe Robins colour treatments are what inspired us to bring these beauty ‘heroes’ to New Zealand.
We familiarised ourselves with these products when we lived overseas, and were part of our daily skin/hair regimes, they were extremely accessible where we lived over the years, and we wanted to bring that home.
Tell us about your vision for Ines. What would success with this project look like to you?
A prolific online store, and trusted platform that informed and educated our community about the best in beauty from around the world. We’d love our skincare offering to expand as well as into other beauty categories.
Do you have a favourite product? If so, what makes it special?
There is not one product that is favoured - all our products/brands are handpicked for an end result and purpose. Our haircare brands are equally beautiful in terms of effectiveness and sensory experience offered through their plant based ingredients.
However, if we were to both highlight one we use on a twice-daily basis - it would be Bioderma Sensibio H20 for its gentle ability to thoroughly cleanse the skin.