The story behind Avène dates back to 1736, when a horse belonging to the Marquis of Rocozels was turned loose to roam the southwest of France due to severe skin disease.
According to legend, the horse found a thermal spring near Avène and after rolling in the water, the horse’s coat became shiny again and its skin disease was completely cured. This led the Marquis of Rocozels to build a thermal spring facility to treat patients with skin ailments such as eczema, psoriasis, and burns.
In 1990, the Avène Hydrotherapy Center was opened and has since expanded to accommodate 4,000 patients at one time.
Of course, everyone can’t travel to this center, so the Avène skincare line was created to give patients the benefits of Avène Thermal Spring Water in their everyday skincare routines.
But is Avène Thermal Spring Water really the key to healthier skin?
To answer this question, we’ll have to evaluate the Avène product formulations through a scientific lens. That means we’ll dive into the research that supports (or doesn’t support) the ingredients used in these products.
We’ll also share some Avène reviews so that you can get a better idea of what customers think of these products.
What Are The Top 10 Best Avène Skincare Products?
Avène has developed more than 20 collections of skincare products that all have unique benefits and are intended for different skin concerns. With so many products to choose from, you may not know where to get started with this brand. To help you out, we’ll discuss the top 10 best-selling Avène skincare products below.
Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
This rich, occlusive cream is one of the brand’s most popular products, and for good reason. It can be used on the body, face, and even lips to help restore and promote optimal skin recovery from dryness, irritation, minor cuts and scrapes, sunburn, etc.
In addition to Avène Thermal Spring Water, the formula includes sucralfate and copper-zinc sulfate as key ingredients.
Sucralfate helps restore and protect damaged skin and isolates the lesion from external environmental aggressors. The copper-zinc sulfate complex promotes a healthy skin environment for optimal recover.
Bottom Line: Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream is a rich occlusive cream that’s formulated to promote optimal skin recovery from dryness, irritation, minor cuts and scrapes, sunburn, etc.
Avène Skin Recovery Cream
If you’re struggling with hypersensitive or irritated skin, Avène Skin Recovery Cream could be worth trying out. The rich, opaque texture instantly helps to soothe and calm skin and keeps it moisturized all day long without feeling greasy or sticky.
The fragrance-free formula includes emollients like mineral oil and squalane, which both help to lock moisture into the skin, while silicones give this cream a silky, smooth texture.
There are also humectants, like glycerin and the amino acid serine, that draw moisture into the upper layers of skin, similar to how a sponge absorbs and holds water.
And, of course, the formula includes Avène Thermal Spring Water, like all Avène skin care products.
Bottom Line: Avène Skin Recovery Cream is formulated with minimal ingredients for the highest level of tolerance for hypersensitive and irritated skin
Avène Cicalfate Post Procedure Emulsion
A lightweight, soothing skin recovery emulsion that goes on transparent without a greasy finish and provides an immediate cooling sensation, making it ideal for use on post-procedure skin.
Similar to other Avène skincare products, this emulsion includes key ingredients like Avène Thermal Spring Water, emollients (caprylic/capric triglyceride and mineral oil), sucralfate, and a copper-zinc sulfate complex.
Bottom Line: A lightweight, soothing emulsion that supports the healing process after a procedure.
Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel
A soap-free gel cleanser for the face and body that is formulated to eliminate impurities and excess oil without stripping the skin.
Like most cleansers, the key ingredients in this formula include surfactants, such as zinc coceth sulphate and decyl glucoside. A surfactant molecule contains one end that is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and one end that is lipophilic (attracted to oil). This allows surfactants to attract and suspend oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away.
Even though this product is intended for those with sensitive skin, the formula does contain a synthetic fragrance blend. The fragrance has the potential to cause skin irritation, skin damage, and sensitivity.
Bottom Line: A soap-free gel cleanser that uses surfactants to remove impurities. The presence of fragrance in this formula may lead to skin sensitivity.
Avène Cold Cream
Avène Cold Cream has a rich, creamy texture that helps to instantly soothe and moisturize skin. But what exactly is a “cold cream”? And who should use it?
Cold cream is a mixture of water and oil (typically mineral oil) that includes added thickeners and beeswax. It feels cold on the skin when applied, hence its name.
The high concentration ingredient in the Avène Cold Cream formula is mineral oil, an emollient that forms a protective film on the surface of skin that helps to prevent evaporation of the skin’s natural moisture.
The formula also includes beeswax, which functions as both an emollient and humectant. In addition, there are about 300 compounds found in beeswax, including alkanes, acids, esters, polyesters, and hydroxy esters. These components have been shown to relieve inflammation, as well as have antimicrobial and regenerative effects.
Due to this combination of ingredients, the Avène Cold Cream is ideal for dry, taut, flaky skin and rough, dry hands, elbows, and knees.
Bottom Line: Avène Cold Cream instantly soothes the skin while locking in moisture, making it ideal for dry, taut, flaky skin and rough, dry hands, elbows, and knees.
Avène Hydrance Aqua Gel
Avène Hydrance Aqua Gel is a cream-in-water gel that can be used for a variety of purposes, including as a daily moisturizer, overnight mask, and along the eye contour.
This product is great to add instant hydration to the skin due to the high concentration of Avène Thermal Spring Water and several humectants, such as glycerin and pentylene glycol.
Unfortunately, the brand claims that hyaluronic acid and vitamin E are “key” ingredients, but the formula contains very low concentrations of these ingredients.
And another problem with this formula is the inclusion of a synthetic fragrance blend, which could lead to skin sensitivity.
Bottom Line: Avène Hydrance Aqua Gel would be a good product for adding hydration to the skin if the brand left the fragrance out of this formula!
Avène XeraCalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Cream
Avène XeraCalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Cream is a rich cream that’s formulated to nourish, soothe, and calm dry, itchy skin prone to atopic dermatitis and eczema.
There’s a high concentration of evening primrose oil in this formula, which is often touted as a natural remedy to treat eczema.
However, a publication in the British Medical Journal found that the largest and best-reported studies on evening primrose oil did not show convincing evidence of any benefit.
While evening primrose oil won’t relieve the symptoms of eczema, it still functions as an emollient by softening the skin. There are several other emollients in this Avène cream, including mineral oil and caprylic/capric triglyceride.
Bottom Line: Avène XeraCalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Cream is a rich cream that should help to soften and moisturize skin thanks to the emollients in this formula.
Avène RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream
If you’re trying to prevent or reduce signs of skin aging, then you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to add a retinol night cream or serum into your routine. But what about a peptide cream? Peptides are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins — like collagen and elastin — are important components of your skin that keep it firm and youthful.
Fortunately, Avène RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream combines the benefits of both retinol and peptides into one cream.
The formula includes retinaldehyde, which is actually more potent than retinol. Here’s why: For any vitamin A derivative to be effective, it must first convert into retinoic acid.
For example, retinol must be converted to retinaldehyde and then to retinoic acid. As you can see, retinaldehyde offers more effectiveness than retinol because it’s one step closer to retinoic acid.
So what benefits can you expect from retinaldehyde? It works by promoting skin cell turnover and stimulating collagen synthesis, which in turn improves skin tone, unclogs pores, and slows down the formation of lines and wrinkles.
Plus, don’t forget there are also two peptides in this formula — oleoyl dipeptide-15 and oleoyl tetrapeptide-31 — that help skin appear plump, firm, and more radiant.
Bottom Line: Avène RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream is an anti-aging cream that combines retinaldehyde and peptides in order to reduce signs of aging.
Avène Thermal Spring Water
Avène Thermal Spring Water is bottled directly at the source and packaged in a sterile environment for guaranteed purity. You can use this facial spray as often as necessary to soothe, soften, and calm skin.
The formula is fragrance-free and alcohol-free. In fact, the only ingredient in this spray is Avène Thermal Spring Water. We’ll give you all the details on this unique water in the Key Ingredients section below.
Bottom Line: A facial spray that soothes and softens skin with the healing properties of Avène Thermal Spring Water.
Avène Tolerance Extreme Emulsion
This lightweight, milky emulsion uses only 6 essential ingredients to soothe and moisturize hypersensitive skin and restore healthy skin function. We love that the formula includes a high concentration of the emollient squalane.
Squalane is a saturated and stable hydrocarbon that mimics squalene (note the e), a natural compound in your skin that plays an important role in lubrication and protection. Squalane helps to replenish and strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier. The result? Soft, moisturized, healthy skin.
The rest of the formula consists of the humectant glycerin, a couple more emollients, and, of course, Avène Thermal Spring Water.
Bottom Line: Avène Tolerance Extreme Emulsion has a lightweight, milky texture and a minimal formula with high concentrations of Avène Thermal Spring Water and squalane.
Is Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream Right For You?
Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream is one of the brand’s most popular moisturizers, but is it right for you? Before purchasing this moisturizer, here’s a summary of the most important factors to consider:
- Key ingredients? Avène Thermal Spring Water, sucralfate, copper-zinc sulfate
- Skin type? Irritated, sensitive, or dry skin
- Texture? Rich, occlusive cream
- Fragrance? No
- Cruelty-free? No
- Cost? $42 USD for 3.3 oz
- EWG Rating? 2
What Are The Key Ingredients in Avène Skincare Products?
You already know that the Avène skincare collection was inspired by the healing properties of Avène Thermal Spring Water – but what makes this water so special?
According to the brand, Avène Thermal Spring Water is bacteriologically pure, has a low mineral content, and has a large variety of anions, cations, and trace elements. The 2 to 1 calcium/magnesium ratio makes it unique among dermatological thermal spring waters and may explain its skin-healing action.
Another key component of Avène Thermal Spring water is an ancient microflora called Aqua Dolomiae. This microflora comes from deep within the earth and produces the active substances found in the Avène Thermal Spring Water. Aqua Dolomiae gives the water its significant anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to stimulate the skin’s natural protection.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about this water is that over 150 biological, pharmacological, and clinical studies have clearly demonstrated the soothing, softening, and calming benefits of Avène Thermal Spring Water.
In addition to the thermal spring water, most Avène skincare products contain mineral oil. Mineral oil is a clear, odorless oil derived from a mineral source, typically a distillate of petroleum, that functions as an emollient. After application, mineral oil forms a protective film on the surface of the skin that helps to prevent evaporation of the skin’s natural moisture, making this an excellent ingredient for those with dry skin.
According to a publication in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, “Mineral oil has been shown to improve skin softness and barrier function better than some other emollients using the gas-bearing dynamometer and standard water vapour transmission testing, as well as in vivo studies showing its effects on suppressing transepidermal water loss (TEWL).”
We were disappointed to discover that many Avène skincare products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients. The use of synthetic fragrance ingredients can be a problem because the brand can use a proprietary blend of chemicals to create the fragrance, and they do not have to disclose which chemicals they use on the label. They are allowed to list this blend as “Fragrance (Parfum)” on the ingredient list.
A 2018 study by Women’s Voices for the Earth discovered that in over 3,000 chemicals reportedly used for fragrances, 1,242 were chemicals of concern – and that included at least 7 possible carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents.
Fragrance ingredients also have the potential to cause skin irritation and sensitivity. This is especially problematic since Avène skincare products are formulated for those with sensitive skin.
Where to Buy Avène Skincare Products?
Avène skincare products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as many third-party online sellers like Dermstore, SkinStore, Birchbox, and more. The brand has a list of authorized online sellers on its website. There is also a store locator on the brand’s website where you can find a physician that sells Avène skincare products or a retail location near you.
What is The Avène Return Policy?
The Avène return policy states, “Should you choose to return a product in unopened and sellable condition, we will happily refund the original credit card if returned to Customer Service within 30 days. Unfortunately, we cannot honor returns received more than 30 days from the order shipment date. Only applicable for purchases made directly on Avèneusa.com. All returns must include the original receipt. There are no cash refunds. All sale items are final sale – no exchanges or refunds.”
Is Avène Cruelty-Free?
Avène is not cruelty-free. Avène skincare products are sold in mainland China where all imported cosmetics are required by law to be tested on animals.
Is Avène Vegan?
Avène offers some products that are suitable for vegans, but this is not a 100% vegan brand because some products contain animal-derived ingredients, such as beeswax.
Avène reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive, with most products receiving 4 or 5-star reviews. Most of the Avène reviews are from customers with sensitive skin, with the overall consensus being that Avène skincare products really do help improve the look and feel of dry, red, irritated skin.
Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream has earned an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars after more than 200 customer reviews. Many customers appreciate how well this cream moisturizes without causing irritation.
For example, one 5-star review for the Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream says, “It does not cause breakouts. It sinks into my skin so nicely. Gives great moisture. And does not disrupt my rosacea.”
And another Avène review says, “If your skin is being crazy and you just need a hard reset, this stuff is it. I have tried all types of expensive skin creams and this does the best thing for me- nothing! No problems, no reactions, just moisturizer. Especially safe if you are struggling with perioral dermatitis as I was.”
There aren’t many negative reviews for the Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream, but those that we did read were from customers who didn’t see full relief from their symptoms after using this product.
For example, one review says, “Great moisture but doesn’t help with redness that I’ve seen.”
Overall, we think that most Avène skincare products are formulated well, although we wish the brand would formulate all of their products without fragrance.
- All products are formulated with the healing Avène Thermal Spring Water
- Formulas contain evidence-based ingredients (mineral oil, humectants, emollients, etc)
- Many positive Avène reviews
- Some Avène products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients
- Avène is not cruelty-free
What Are Some Alternatives to Avène Skincare Products?
Avène skincare products are an excellent option for those with sensitive skin and conditions like eczema and rosacea. But if you have normal skin and you’re simply looking for products to enhance your complexion, we have a couple of alternatives for you to consider.
One brand we recommend is Formulyst because, unlike most skincare brands, Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones. The result is clinically advanced skincare solutions that help to promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.
For example, Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum is specifically formulated for aging skin that has experienced a loss of collagen. The formula contains a highly concentrated mix of peptides and proteins, derived from seaweed, wheat, and soy, to help tackle signs of aging.
Another brand that balances the power of plants with cutting-edge science is Carrot & Stick. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, but it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products.