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This tale is yet another example of why the Parisians do style and beauty that little bit better than anyone else in the world; it's about Buly, an old-school French apothecary that actually began life at 6 Rue Bonaparte in the early 19th century as the go-to chemist for those in-the-know at the time.
Today, it’s been revived but with all those wonderful little elements that made it 19th century; the big glass jars, the Renaissance-inspired packaging, the calligraphic labels, the marbling… I mean, it’s pretty tough not to love. These are products that wouldn’t be out of place in an art gallery so of course they up the ante on any bathroom shelf.
Unlike the packaging, the formulations are simple and you’ll find no provocative ingredients, just gentle, balancing blends, which means that even if you’re really sensitive or extremely oily, they’ll work for you.
One of my favourites is the Eau Superfine Floral Facial lotion, which beats your classic face wash by a mile. It’s a rose-scented, water-based cleanser – i.e. a supercharged micellar water – perfect for summer days. Rosewater is ultra soothing, super brightening and helps detoxify skin so it’s a good one to use every morning, if not evening too. And the best part? The majestic, round, silver lid, which has never not made anyone feel like a Queen. It’s the coolest cleanser that ever walked the planet.
Another favourite – and one of the brand’s best-loved products – is the Pommade Concrete, a hand cream that remains a staple on my desk. It’s lusciously thick, with a shea butter base, and fulfills its promise of soothing winter-chapped hands or just dry skin in general. I pop it on elbows and knees when times get tough too.
So who’s responsible for this brand of beauty? Well, really, we should thank Jean Vincent Buly, our 19th century friend who started the original store all those years ago. But the masterminds behind Buly as we know it now are husband and wife, Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac. Touhami is ex-Cire Trudon, another ornate favourite, and both him and his wife are perfectionists to the extreme. And it shows. It’s insouciantly stylish, perfectly imperfect and as quirky and niche as beauty brands come. A breath of fresh air in a world full of mass-market duplicates.
And although we can’t all make it to the Parisian store, there’s the Buly website (where you can personalize each bottle), Net-a-Porter and Dover Street Market, where you'll find it in the store as well as online. Head-turning Parisian beauty.