Vichy vs Clarins

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: May 22, 2024

The Battle of the French Moisturizers: Vichy vs Clarins

When it comes to luxurious French skincare, few brands carry the pedigree and reputation of Vichy and Clarins. Both have incredibly loyal followings amongst beauty insiders and consumers alike. As someone who has put both brands' signature moisturizers to the test over many years, I'm often asked to weigh in on how they compare. While they share some similarities in their French roots and focus on botanical ingredients, Vichy and Clarins have distinct differences that may make one a better choice for you over the other.

Let's start with ingredients, as that is the backbone of any good moisturizer. Vichy is acclaimed for its use of the Vichy Thermal Spa Water, sourced from springs in the French village of Vichy and packed with 15 different minerals. This mineral-rich water is a key ingredient across their product lineup, including in the beloved Aqualia Thermal line. The Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream is a cult favorite gel-cream packed with hyaluronic acid and plant sugars to hydrate all day without feeling heavy.

Clarins' ingredient philosophy is much more focused on pure plant extracts and oils. Their iconic Moisture Rich Body Lotion contains shea butter, candellila wax, and plethora of botanical extracts like sweet almond, oat, and ginko biloba. When it comes to facial moisturizers, the Clarins Hydra-Essentiel line is their heaviest hitter, utilizing katafray bark extract and organic leaf of life to deeply hydrate while fighting oxidative stress.

In terms of texture and application experience, Vichy tends to prioritize lightweight, refreshingly cool gel and cream textures. Clarins on the other hand often has a richer, more luxurious, and velvety skin feel. Their creams tend to absorb more slowly and leave behind a satiny finish rather than a matte look.

Both brands formulate different products for different skin types and concerns within their moisturizer collections. Clarins' Moisture-Rich line is wonderful for dry, dehydrated skin while their Truly Matte range is tailored for oily complexions. Vichy follows suit with products like the Aqualia Thermal line for normal/combination skin and the Nutrilogie line for very dry skin.

Reviews of both brands' top moisturizers are overwhelmingly positive, though different qualities tend to stand out for each. Users rave about the long-lasting hydration and plumping effects delivered by Vichy's hyaluronic acid and mineral water based formulas. For Clarins, customers wax poetic about the intoxicating scents from botanicals like blue orchid and thenaturally radiant glow their products impart.

Price is an area where there is a starker divide between these two French beauty houses. Vichy moisturizers occupy a solid mid-range for most, typically costing between $30-$50 for a standard size. Clarins' luxe formulas with higher concentrations of potent botanical extracts clock in at a more premium $60-$90 range for their facial creams and lotions.

At the end of the day, your skin type and personal preferences will dictate whether Vichy or Clarins is the superior choice for you when it comes to moisturizers. Those with sensitive skin or who prefer refined, lightweight hydration may prefer Vichy. If you love thicker, more nourishing and aromatic textures, you'll likely fall for what Clarins has to offer. No matter which moisturizer you choose between these two beloved French skincare institutions, your skin is sure to drink up the benefits of their decades-perfected, botanically-concentrated formulas.

Article written by Tom Qiao
Tom is the founder and editor of where he applies his decades of personal experience with skincare problems like acne and acne scarring to provide readers with practical advice and product recommendations.

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