No surprise, right?! I mean can you really expect me to visit Europe and not shop the pharmacy? 

We all know the correct answer…

We snagged an ahhhhmazing deal on tickets last fall leading to the most epic, laid back week in Rome. Staying in low-key Testaccio, the city’s foodie-hood, it was perfection. We did our best to immerse in the culture and eat our hearts out.

Our days consisted mostly of waking up for a late stroll for an espresso and pastry. We would walk the long way back home, send a few emails, and take in the sounds from our open windows. A couple hours later we would head back out for lunch, explore a while and decide where to enjoy a negroni aperitif, and finally discuss dinner plans. AND OMG. The anchovies, artichokes, cured meats, olives, pasta….everything is delicious. We basically travel to eat.

and to beauty shop, naturally

Pharmacies in Europe are next level compared to our American drug stores. I packed a minimal routine because I knew I would have access to awesome, affordable skincare. The full range of brands carried at the pharmacy is hardly represented here! You’ll also find Caudalie, Skinceuticals, and Avène among others. Most shops had unmarked specials, too. It’s a beauty junkie paradise.

I walked into different shops at least 6 times.

I know. It’s excessive and I was completely obsessed.

After my last pharmacy haul I went home and did the math: I spent €60 and STILL saved $50 compared to what I would have spent in the States. So, you know… I purchased several backups.

here’s your intro to pharmacy shopping with an addict

First, the brand you won’t find at the pharmacy: Kiko Cosmetics.

Kiko is Italy’s popular and affordable makeup line based out of Milan with a busy shop in the premier shopping district surrounding the Spanish Steps. Thanks to the gorgeous Katie’s suggestion, I wouldn’t have stopped by otherwise! Makeup isn’t my usual area to experiment with but when another esthetician says it’s a must, you do it.

When I say affordable, I really mean it. Think drugstore prices.

I walked around, filling my bag with gifts and items for myself without paying attention to prices. The damage really wasn’t that bad considering.

What’s cool is the advanced formulas. For example, Volumeyes Plus Active Mascara ($14.00) will actually increase the diameter of your lashes with continued use AND IT’S SO CHEAP. It wears like a luxe brand, precise application, lasts all day…. except it doesn’t withstand the humidity in my treatment room with a steamer, so I can’t wear it on workdays.

Then there’s the 30 Days Extension Night Treatment Booster ($12.00) for lengthening lashes. It’s too soon to say whether or not it’s working, but at $12 I’m willing to play with it. Reviews for the lash serum are great though. Nail & Cuticle Scrub Pen ($9.00) is awesome! Little beads exfoliate combined with oils, leaves your nails looking polished and nourished.9Of course, my favorite item from the haul isn’t available on their US site. I’m quick to purchase products with SPF protection, particularly lip products. Solar Protect Balm SPF 20 gives a pretty flush of color while protecting your lips, feels and smells great, and wears more like a lipstick than a balm.

Pictured above are the necessary items for survival for travel skin prone to breaking out. I was dry, dehydrated, and congested. Thanks to the beauty community I knew what to do and beelined for La Roche Posay!

Unfortunately, the only La Roche product you can buy domestically is Serozinc ($14.99). We do have American versions of the others but the formulas are very different… and luck would have it I much prefer the European versions.

BUT while writing this I stumbled upon Escentual, a UK store with reasonable pricing and international shipping… and wish I would have learned of this sooner! Although it once you get to check out you’ll realize half your cart won’t ship. Bummer.

What I really fell in love with is La Roche Posay’s European lineup, it’s what affordable skincare should be and a shame the American market isn’t similar. Effaclar Duo+ Unifiant ($18.95) is mattifying tinted GOLD for acne-prone skin! I adore this stuff. It hides imperfections, it’s loaded with ingredients to keep skin’s barrier in check, fade scars, and gently exfoliates. Really helped keep my skin manageable while dealing with travel skin.

Lait Demaquillant ($13.81) is a milky, oil-based cleanser for makeup removal, it was perfect for my uber dry skin and removed makeup perfectly. The American version is boring asf by comparison.

I’ve talked about this one before… The sunscreen I stocked up on while traveling: Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF50+ ($18.95). The formula combines a trifecta of sun protecting ingredients providing amazing protection against UVA rays, not just UVB. Lightweight, smells nice, designed for sensitive skin. When I get my hands on it, it’s a regular in my regimen.

My absolute favorite dry shampoo is Klorane Natural Tint ($10.83). Sephora sells it for the double the price. Escentual’s price is equal to what I paid in Italy. No brainer, stock up enough to justify the $6.70 shipping cost. There are a few variations, but as a brunette, I love the tint!

Walking around Rome I needed protection since I burn by just looking at the sun. Between the language barrier and trying to communicate I needed a body SPF I purchased Vichy Ideal Soleil Face & Body Hydrating Milk SPF30 ($21.86) based on an employee’s suggestion. Again, I enjoyed this product and I can’t seem to find this domestically either. It even came with a body wash that we can’t get here. I mean really, WHAT IS THIS TORTURE?

Nuxe recently pulled out of the American market, just a few weeks ago actually. I found out after this purchase, so any guilt I had about going to the pharmacy again to find Nuxe immediately went out the window.

I’ve used these off and on for years, Huile Prodigieuse ($39.25) was the first dry body oil I tried back when Birchbox was in its beginning. Truly an all-purpose oil for body, hair, skin, nails… everything! And the smell, ugh it’s so lovely and relaxes me like no other. There are other size options available, the one linked is the largest like pictured above.

Having a new jar of Rêve de Miel Honey Lip Balm ($12.86)  has been just as equally satisfying. I don’t know why a lip balm makes me so happy, but it does and has a new home on my nightstand so I never miss a beat. BUY IT. You won’t regret it! Also, Micellar Foam Cleanser with Rose Petals ($18.95) will leave you feeling like a bougie French girl. Worth it, right?

What did I miss, though? There are so many awesome products to find, I need to start a wishlist!