Our neighbourhood pharmacies are shaping up to be the white knights of this pandemic. As essential services, they’ve kept their doors open to us from Day 1, ensuring our needs for medication are met, not to mention everything else we’ve needed to see us through, from toilet paper to makeup for seemingly endless Zoom calls to stockpiles of hair dye when our favourite salons were shuttered. Even their vibrator shelves were emptied in our collective reckoning with the isolation of COVID-19.

Now they’ve stepped up again with vaccination appointments for qualified individuals, reinforcing the trusty pharmacy’s place among our society’s pantheon of saviours.

But none of this should come as a surprise to French women, who have long held the pharmacy as the keeper of all great beauty secrets big and small. Their storied emporiums are chock full of sophisticated salves, high-end cold creams, and makeup go-tos that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

So it’s fair to say that when I came across this little straightforward-looking pot of gold at London Drugs (it’s at Shoppers Drug Mart too) courtesy of our French friends and their Gallic savoir-faire, I immediately stocked up. Because if I know one thing about French beauty, it’s that simple is the secret.

Straight from the thermal resort town of Uriage-les-Bains in the heart of the French Alps, where the water is full of minerals and trace elements that restore the barrier of your skin, Uriage seeks to harness the healing powers of the baths in all its products. The brand’s Hyséac line, designed for combination to oily skin, includes an SOS Paste that adds purifying schist extract, naturally absorbent green clay, and zinc to help zap blemishes overnight.

No one should have to contend with acne and wrinkles simultaneously, but such is the fate of about a quarter of all adult women pushing 40. Hormones, stress, clogged pores, diet, and cosmetics aggravate the condition, but throw in a pandemic with stratospheric levels of stress and tight-fitting masks, and I wager the prevalence of adult acne is now considerably higher.

Uriage’s SOS Paste is without a doubt the most effective, potent blemish remover I’ve come across yet. Dab it on at night, let it do its good work while you sleep, then wash it off come morning. Repeat as necessary the next night.

Its active ingredients calm the inflammatory response, tamp down excess sebum, mattify skin with licorice, refine and tighten pores with a vegetable extract of lentil, and exfoliate with a complex of three AHA malic, glycolic, and lactic acids to smooth and prevent clogging.

The company claims that 91 per cent of users say imperfections disappear more quickly, and while I would normally squawk at such staggeringly high numbers, I can personally vouch for it, as can my teen girls. This stuff really works like magic. And we all need something we can believe in right now.

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