Sienna Miller Says Her Great Skin Is Thanks To This £17 ‘French-Girl Secret’

The jury's out on whether this cult classic can really transform skin.

Sienna Miller

by Sameeha Shaikh |
Updated on

Any beauty obsessive will tell you about the treasure trove that is the French pharmacy. Sure, a trip to the Arc de Triomphe or Mont Saint-Michel, is on any France-bound hit list but those versed on good skincare will have a French pharmacy or two at the very top of their itineraries. Those illuminated green cross stores have become symbolic in the beauty world for being home to some of the best affordable, efficacious, results-driven products that are especially good for sensitive skin types. Top of the skincare wishlist? La Roche-Posay,Bioderma, Caudalie, and Vichy.

Sienna Miller in Cannes
Sienna Miller in Cannes

Speaking in a recent Harper's Bazaar Inside my beauty bag video, the actress wasted no time in revealing that the A313 Vitamin A Pommade, £14.99, is a firm favourite in her beauty arsenal. Having just been away for a month, she shares a genuine unedited look into her travel kit and starts by pulling out a tube of the A313 French pharmacy favourite before saying, 'this is a really fantastic secret, it's called the A313 and it's a French retinol that you can get over the counter'.

She owes the discovery to another British 'It' Girl, Alexa Chung, who she describes as having 'the most amazing skin'. Clinching the well-used crinkled tube in hand, Miller notes, 'It's described as the French girl secret to great skin.'

It's certainly a big claim, but one that seems to be justified, according to the traction it has received online. The A313 retinol has been lauded for its alleged ability to tackle acne, pigmentation, solar keratoses and fine lines, ergo providing the best base for the most coveted thing in beauty: good skin. It makes sense then that Miller has chosen this as her go-to, as she later notes, 'I do have a personal beauty philosophy which is, I think people look most beautiful without a ton of make-up, I love natural skin.'

Shop: Sienna Miller's Favourite Retinol

A313 Vitamin A Pommade 
Price: £14.99 (was £17.95)

BeautyTok and Sienna Miller are obsessed with this gentle retinol which Miller recently noted as being 'the French girl secret to great skin.' The experts aren't convinced just yet but beauty junkies swear it has helped to get their complexions in check.

The A313 Vitamin A Pommade has amassed hundreds of videos on TikTok with beauty creators raving about its skin rejuvenating results. TikToker @swayzejane claims it is one of the only products that actually changed her skin and said the ointment is like 'miracles in a tub'. Likewise, @vikipeocz says if there is one thing she continuously repurchases before even running out, it is the Pommade, which she claims has helped with her acne, fine lines and evening out her skin tone. @glowwithava picked up her tube while travelling in Paris and said, 'apparently this A313 cream is great for people who have more sensitive skin and can't tolerate prescriptive retinol, this is retinol ester which is better for sensitive skin.'

In a separate video, Ava follows up with more details. Having brought the product for as little as $6, it wasn't just the price point that lured her in. Unlike most retinoid products, the balmy texture is more like comforting Vaseline and is made with retinyl palmitate, 'which is one of the most gentle forms of retinol, which means it's not going to sensitise your skin or irritate your skin. This sounded like a dream to me because I am very sensitive to so many retinols out there,' she notes. Having found her own rhythm with the product, Ava says she is practically married to her A313.

The results speak for themselves but while BeautyTok is obsessed with the product, the experts aren't convinced. Popular says-it-how-it-is online dermatologist, Dr Dray says, 'Retinyl palmitate is what is in A313. It's a retinol ester and retinol esters? They're antioxidants. They can help stabilise a formaula maybe, they can help potentially ward off oxidative stress but, unlike retinol, retinaldehyde or prescription forms of topical vitamin A, they don't actually work to improve collagen production, so they don't have anti-wrinkle effects. They also don't appear to do anything for hyperpigmentation. I think consumers are often misled by products that have retinol esters in them, that they are somehow just like a gentler form of retinol, they're really not the same. People like to put A313 on a pedestal because it's French but it's just a moisturiser.'

Likewise, board-certified dermatologist,Dr. Ellen Gendler, says, 'here's my beef with the skincare influencers who are not dermatologists and don't see patients all the time. This is a cult favourite, A313, people clamouring to get it, it's always out of stock, well what is it? It's really nothing. It's retinyl palmitate, and the other part of it that disturbs me is that when you look at the ingredients on the label, it's a complicated name for vitamin A with all kinds of units. It makes it basically unintelligible and i think it's meant to obfuscate what it actually is which is really not much.'

The jury is out on whether the A313 really is a silver bullet for multiple skin concerns but look, if Miller says the secret to great French girl skin lies in a $6 tube of cream then we're game to give it a go.

Sameeha Shaikh is Grazia UK's Beauty Writer, working across all categories to bring you insights on the latest trends, industry news and the products you need to know about, viral or not (most probably viral).


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