This is one of three products Avene offers with varying strengths of retinal. It is identical to Avene’s Retrinal Cream 0.01 and Retrinal Cream 0.05 except for a slightly different concentration of "retinal" as indicated on their ingredient label. Also known as retinaldehyde, retinal is similar to retinol (we have no idea why the name of the product is retrinal as there is no skin care ingredient called retrinal). Retinaldehyde is a worthwhile ingredient for skin, as it can reportedly be better utilized by skin than retinol because it takes less steps in the conversion process for it to become the active form of vitamin A after it is absorbed in to the skin. Retinaldehyde is also supposedly better tolerated than retinol though there is limited information on that. However, all forms of vitamin A can cause undesirable side effects such as flaking and dryness (Source: Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2006, pages 289–296).
How much retinol or retinal is needed for skin isn't clear. Higher percentages can cause unwanted side effects but too little and it is questionable whether or not it is effective. Other than the retinaldehyde, this is a very standard, unimpressive moisturizer for normal to dry skin. It is worth considering if you are looking for a vitamin A product for your skin, just keep in mind the skin needs more than one ingredient to be healthy and function like younger skin. It is just like your diet, green tea, no matter how healthy, if that was all you ate you would be malnourished.
Retrinal has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Three unique strengths of Retrinal are used to combat different signs of aging. Used separately, they address specific skin concerns. Together, they create a complete anti-aging regimen. Retrinal 0.025 enhances radiance, hydration and skin firmness. Minimizes the onset of visible signs of aging.
Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Glyceryl Stearate, Peg-100 Stearate, Squalane, Propylene Glycol, Glycol Montanate, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Bht, Butylparaben, Carbomer, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Red 33, Retinal, Triethanolamine
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.