Interactive Drugstore Beauty Shopping

Published in: News, Skin Care

Thanks to French beauty brands like Vichy, your drugstore beauty shopping experience may be more interactive in the not-to-distant future.


The 77-year-old French skin care and makeup line, known for products formulated with mineral-rich waters, is leading the charge to change the drugstore beauty department experience by adding in-store beauty advisers and offering free samples and testers — perks previously reserved for boutiques and department store beauty counters.

Five years ago, Vichy introduced their products in CVS and Brooks Pharmacy drugstores in the US. Unlike other drugstore beauty lines that were stocked on regular store shelves, Vichy began selling its products through in-store “dermatological skin centers” staffed by trained beauty advisers.

Today, Vichy skin care centers can be found in select Rite Aid, CVS, Duane Reade and Longs Drugstore stores, and, by the end of this year, Vichy plans to have them in a total of 1,000 stores nationwide.

“The presence of the dermatological skin care centers has elevated drugstores’ beauty departments, noted Philippe Patsalides, general manager of Active Cosmetics USA, the L’Oréal division that houses Vichy. Drugstores ‘are perceived as convenience stores, but they are working to change into beauty destinations.'”
Women’s Wear Daily

Remember the rise of beauty vending machines a few months ago? Now we’ve got the opposite end of the customer service spectrum.


Although one of the reasons I like shopping at drugstores is the fact that I can browse without really having to interact with legions of salespeople, I like the notion of having a beauty adviser available if I have questions.

I haven’t been to a drugstore with a Vichy dermatological skin center yet, but I’m looking forward to checking ’em out.

What do you think about staffed drugstore beauty counters? Do you think they might lead to higher prices? Would you prefer to shop drugstores on your own?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 11 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Beth says:

    We don’t have the same sort of drug stores over here as you guys have there (which royally sucks, I can tell you) but our closest equivalent here in the UK is Boots and in some of their bigger stores they have staffed counters and I think every store sells the No 7 range and has some sort of expert on the products.

    I think its a great idea, being able to get advice on what you’re buying from someone who is familiar with the products and what they do. I don’t mind paying that little bit extra to get something that really works for me.


    Beths last blog post..Foot Update

  2. Brittany says:

    Hmm, I don’t know. Part of the reason I love drugstores is that I can browse and no one bothers me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that in department stores you can try practically everything before you buy it, but you have to talk to sales people and they try to convince you to buy this and that. I like my non-interrupted midnight trips to places like CVS and Walgreens because it’s empty and no one cares what I’m doing or looking at. It would be nice if they offered testers and had counters, but I have a feeling the price would go up, which would be a bummer.

  3. Marisol says:

    I sorta like the idea of being able to test the items at the drugstore sort of like Sephora. I think as long as they are not pushy or too annoying then it would be ok.

  4. Alexa says:

    ive never seen those products in CVS or rite-aid
    yeah i think its going to more expensive if they have salepeople
    but thats going to be annoying!
    im usually in a rush or just like looking at the products on my own
    i feel like the sale people watch your every move!

  5. Sylvie says:

    Well in France we do have something like that (duh Vichy came from France haha) and it doesn’t bother me a bit because most of the time you have to approach them to ask for advice, or they might non-intrusively ask if you need any. And most of them time you do because skin care brands have very particular products that differ just a tiny bit from one another and they could help someone find the best products for their particular skin type.

  6. Rowena says:

    Oh gosh! I remember my mum using Vichy but I think its largely disappeared in the UK? I agree with the top commenter I’d love to the the US style drugstore! We are sooooooo limited in the UK and its not even that cheap.

    Rowenas last blog post..Introducing…

  7. Joanne says:

    Hrmm… I guess I like shopping at drugstores alone. But sometimes I find the salespeople helpful. I like M.A.C, but I dread going to their counter. Although they seem nice and very helpful, they make me feel pressured to buy something when I ask about stuff. They spend their time also introducing me to other products and so I feel bad and end up buying something to not feel cheap.

  8. bagaela says:

    Hey Karen!
    I’m happy that You’re writing about the drugstore beauty products – I’m totally love them. I know nearly every big derma-cosmetics company, even the ingredients, and if You take some advice, I’d give some advices:
    Vichy is good, but not the best, if You’re looking fog great products for the same price, look for the also L’Oreal brand La Roche Posay -it has cleaner, more effective products, suits the needs of a very sensitive skin.

    Or if You have, look for the Avene products (absolutely NOT the same as Aveeno, Avene is a french brand, has really good products for sensitive skin, and one of the most effective anti-aging creams in the world (Ysthéal and the Eluage products) with very clear retinoids.

    Or look for Bioderma – that company has nearly the most effective, skin-friendly sunscreens, that has high PPD and heavenly texture, and has a line for very sensitive and very oily, acneic skin.

    Or if You have a chance, try the ROC’s product with retinol, they have also very effective anti-aging produts, but I prefer the Avene’s.

    All of these are french – France is full of great spas and dermatology-centers, and they also have great laboratorys and very good scientists.
    (BTW, Lancome, Clarins, Chanel, Guerlain, Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent is french too 🙂 )

    I hope I sad something usefull, Your all-time lurker,
    bagaela 🙂

  9. okyanus says:

    As I was reading this post, I kept thinking, “Won’t this mean higher prices?” and then saw at the end that you wondered about it too. I don’t see the point of having a beauty adviser in a drugstore, which is meant for convenience and for you to just look around and pick up a few staples and try out something new that you wouldn’t want to initially pay too much money for at a department store because you don’t know if you’ll like it. I think it’s silly that anyone would think that a place that sells diapers, plastic flowers and milk could ever become a “beauty destination”–that’s what Sephora is for! : )

  10. Briana says:

    One of our biggest drug stores chains in canada now has a staffed beauty counter. And I actually have found it really great. They ask if you need help, but if you say no they leave you alone. And if you ask for something specific, they will show you all the options they have from the high end cosmetics all the way down to brands like Maybelline and Cover Girl. I’ve found them to be really helpful and friendly. Countless times I’ve taken a makeup product home and ended up hating it, but now, they have a sample, they show you how to apply it, and you get to see it on you instead of just reading the color label.
    I think its waaaay better. Our prices haven’t gone up, but they have started selling way more high end brands, so of course they get a little more shelf space than the cheaper brands. But they still have all the same cheaper brands as before.
    On the other hand, I do think that some of the people that get hired to work in the beauty department need a little more training in the area of cosmetology because sometimes they can’t answer all your questions. I do know however at some stores they actually have a licensed Cosmetologist instead of just ordinary people with store training.
    Anyway… I can’t say that I have any complaints about it. I’ve been very happy with their service and none of them have been pushy on sales too me. Overall its been win-win in my experience.

  11. Perfume says:

    I for one don’t think it’s a good idea. I think the drugstores kinda have a stigma around them of being sort of like cheap cosmetics and stuff. I don’t know, maybe if some of the bigger design houses try it, it may bring down prices. Interesting concept.

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