This toner claims to be "astringent," and it is, thanks to the alcohol it contains. Although the amount of alcohol isn't as great as in many other toners for oily skin, it's still potentially problematic. See More Info to learn how irritation from alcohol can make oily skin and enlarged pores worse.
Contrary to claim, this toner does not contain ingredients that leave skin shine-free. If anything, its combination of glycol with plant oils will leave skin shiny. The amount of salicylic acid is too low for it to function as an exfoliant, but even if present in a greater amount it wouldn't exfoliate because the pH of this toner is too high. This fragranced toner ends up being not much better than standard alcohol-based toners for oily skin. A far superior option to improve skin and reduce enlarged pores is Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
- Considering what this claims to do, none.
- Amount of alcohol is cause for concern because it can make oily skin and enlarged pores worse.
- Does not contain ingredients capable of leaving skin shine-free.
- The salicylic acid cannot function as an exfoliant (which would be very helpful for oily skin and enlarged pores).
Applying irritating ingredients to oily skin stimulates excess oil production at the base of the pores, so skin ends up being more oily and pores become (or stay) enlarged. Treating oily skin gently with effective products designed to absorb excess oil, exfoliate inside the pore, and help normalize pore function is the best approach to see improvements (Sources: Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366; and Dermatology, January 2003, pages 17–23.)
Astringent toner purifies skin and tightens pores without stinging or irritating sensation. Mattifying powders help absorb excess sebum and leave skin shine-free.
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Dipropylene Glycol, SD Alcohol 39C, Zinc Gluconate, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin Seed Oil), Fragrance (Parfum), PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26 Buteth-26, Salicylic Acid, Silica, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Triethanolamine, Water (Aqua)
Building an entire skin-care line on a single concept, however meaningless that concept may be, is often all it takes to capture the attention of consumers, just because it sounds so convincing. Such is the case with Eau Thermale Avene, a France-based line whose claim to fame is the thermal spring water in its products.
The company's history is laced with romanticized folklore of the allegedly restorative power of this water, with some tales dating back to the 1700s. Building a skin-care line around what was known (or, more accurately, unknown) about skin 300 years ago doesn't make sense, because 300 years ago no one knew anything about skin care or how skin functions; certainly no one knew about sun damage or free-radical damage. For goodness sakes, women in the 1700s were using face powders laced with lead, and who would want to emulate that? Still, the stories Eau Thermale Avene concocts must be convincing some people to buy their products or we wouldn't have been contacted several times per week by readers asking me to review this line.
Avene maintains that their thermal spring water is curative not only because of its historical proof (more anecdotes than proof), but also scientifically because of its low mineral content and pure, pristine source. The company's owner (Pierre Fabre Laboratories) claims to have conducted over 150 clinical studies. However, as you might suspect, there only a handful of published studies, and they all are related to the supposed healing power of Avene's thermal spring water when applied to skin that's been compromised by exposure to radiation or by cosmetic corrective procedures, such as light-emitting devices. Their studies showed that the water has soothing properties and that it helped damaged skin heal faster when compared with the effects of another type of spring water, the standard post-burn treatment, or randomly selected skin-care products.
As convincing as that sounds, the studies don't hold water for several reasons: first, the improvement seen from Avene's thermal spring water was nominal compared with the control; second, the studies were sponsored by Avene; and third, the studies didn't show how the spring water may have fared against numerous established topical anti-irritants or other FDA-approved skin protectants (Sources: Annals of Dermatology and Venereology, Special Edition, January 2008, pages 5–10; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2007, pages 31–35; and Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2007, pages 924–928).
Avene offers additional studies on their Web site, but the majority again are published in the company's own publications; and none were peer-reviewed. Bottom line: There is absolutely no evidence that any type of thermal spring water allows skin to resist or correct signs of aging. Helping skin maintain its barrier is great, but there is abundant research showing that substances such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin do a far better job.
To its credit, Avene does offer some worthwhile products for sensitive skin. Yet they also offer products that can be problematic for sensitive skin because they contain fragrance and other potentially harmful ingredients. More important is the lack of significant anti-irritants that could have been extremely helpful for those with sensitive skin.
For the most part, unless you're a believer in the company's thermal spring water, there is little reason to get excited about their products. They offer some good cleansers, alternatives to retinol (using a similar ingredient known as retinal and retinaldehyde, which is one of the more effective derivatives of retinol), and some basic yet effective moisturizers for sensitive skin that's also dry.
Given this line's penchant for extolling antiquated skin-care fables, it shouldn't be surprising that their products lack an impressive selection of state-of-the-art ingredients whose benefits for skin are substantiated by reams of research. Interestingly, many of the claims prevalent throughout the cosmetics industry are found here, too, but without the formulas to support them and to actually deliver remarkable antiwrinkle results.
For more information about Eau Thermale Avene, call (866) 412-8363 or visit www.aveneusa.com.