My beauty routine has typically been of the soap-and-water variety, but following a recent breakout my doctor sent me to the pharmacy (“lékárna”) with a list and instructions to start “investing in my skin.” Around the same time I came across an article on Gwyneth Paltrow´s heinously named but occasionally entertaining Web site, Goop, praising French pharmacies. All of this gave me back the distinct European pleasure of browsing glassed-in shelves of lotions and creams with French labels – and Czech ones, too. The products recommended here are available at your local pharmacy or on-line at Lekarna.cz or Dr. Max. Don´t forget to leave your favorite pharmacy beauty finds and tips below.
STEAL: Aromatica “Bylinné Masti” Herb Ointment (55 CZK/50 ml)
You won´t invest much in these traditional Czech balms, made to soothe a variety of ailments including dry skin, scars, varicose veins, arthritis and “cold feet”. The magic ingredient? Lard, combined with herbs, beeswax and natural oils like marigold and lavender.
SPLURGE: Ducray Ictyane Crčme (245 CZK/50 ml)
Recommended by my dermatologist and worth the splurge in my book, this cream´s petroleum jelly base, injected with super-hydrating glycerin, leaves a surprisingly silky, not greasy, finish. It also contains “ichtamol” an ingredient typically used to treat scaly skin.
TIP: White ichtamol (“bílá ictamo pasta”) is available for about 130 CZK from the pharmacy and can be put to use as a wonderful, though smelly, salve or first aid cream.
STEAL: Eva Honey Lip Balm (33 CZK)
Kissed with pure honey, this stick lubes lips against chapping and cracking and also helps heal already ravaged puckers. Czech moms use it to pamper the raw skin under their kids´ noses and around the corners of their mouths. Also available in coconut and strawberry.
SPLURGE: La Roche-Posay Ceralip Lipid-Replenishing Cream (275 CZK)
This long-lasting cream comforts and replenishes painful lips with extreme moisture and plumping lipids. If your skin is ultra-sensitive or allergy-prone, this is the line of products for you.
TIP: Don´t be afraid to ask for free samples (“Chtěl/chtěla bych vzorek”) of the more expensive, international brands. Pharmacists usually have them on hand.
STEAL: AlterMed “Oční” Eye Gel (55 CZK/25 ml)
Refresh the slack skin around your eyes, and deflate puffiness, with natural aloe-vera extracts. This affordable gel also does double duty as a base for your eye makeup. Apply after moisturizer and before foundation.
SPLURGE: Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Roll-On (439 CZK/15 ml)
There´s something appealing about the portability and ease of a roll-on. This one hydrates with thermal spa water, lightens dark circles and perks up eyes while diminishing wrinkles brought on by dehydration.
TIP: Go to the counter marked “na předpis” for prescriptions, “volný prodej” for shop items or “volný” for either one.
STEAL: Doliva Cleansing Milk (199 CZK/200 ml)
Gently removes makeup and other impurities while infusing skin with panthenol for added hydration. The main ingredient here is cold-pressed olive oil.
SPLURGE: Bioderma Cleansing Water (450 CZK/500 ml)
My sensitive skin drove me to this color-coded skin-care regimen. Its “micelle solution” reveals soft, fresh skin and leaves no irritation or redness after cleansing.
TIP: The pharmacy is also the place to go for makeup for sensitive skin. Vichy, La Roche and Bioderma cosmetics are all available in Prague pharmacies.
STEAL: Saloos “Růže” Rose Body Oil (130 CZK/50 ml)
I´d been paying substantially more for Botanicus´s sweet almond oil, my go-to product for spotty skin, until I discovered Saloos´, also Czech-made, natural products. Their wide selection of body and massage oils, with medicinal or restorative applications, derive from unique extracts like pumpkin and nine-flowers.
SPLURGE: Weleda Pomegranate Spa Oil (330 CZK/100 ml)
Oil derived from the seeds of antioxidant-packed pomegranate promises revitalized skin and improved firmness in less than two weeks. A bestseller among Czech women!
TIP: A-Derm Exomega, Oilatum and Eucerin all make exceptional bath and body oils. If you you can get your doctor to prescribe these over-the-counter products, your insurance may cover some, if not all, of the cost.
STEAL: Dr. Müller-Pharma Lavender Shampoo (120 CZK/250 ml)
Lavender essential oil leaves your scalp all tingly and regenerates lank hair, but best of all has you smelling like you´ve just come from a romp in a Provençal field.
SPLURGE: Klorane Shampoo with Oat Milk (315 CZK/400 ml)
Packed with theraputic botanicals and gentle cleansing oats formulated for every day use, you´ll get no whiff of Provence from this French shampoo, but, like a Parisienne, use daily for a healthy, sleek style.
TIP: The first pharmacy in Prague opened in 1135 on Týn Court, Ungelt. Lékárna U sv. Vojtěcha at Myslíkova 9, est.1855, is the oldest still-operating pharmacy in the city.