This rather ordinary serum is said to contain “hyaluronic acid fragments” that help “redensify” skin and fight sagging. Hyaluronic acid in skin-care products cannot do that (see More Info to learn why), but even more bizarre is that this product doesn’t contain any form of hyaluronic acid, fragments or otherwise. Many lines add hyaluronic acid (or its salt form, sodium hyaluronate) to their products because it is an excellent skin-repairing ingredient, but what it cannot do (regardless of the amount or the claims) is work topically to plump wrinkles and strategically lift skin as it does when it is injected (think dermal fillers). When done correctly by a good cosmetic dermatologist, dermal fillers absolutely can add density to skin and, to a certain degree help give skin a slight lift without surgery.
This serum (whose texture is closer to a lotion-like moisturizer) contains some good ingredients for dry skin, but it lacks an array of antioxidants or skin-repairing ingredients that would at least justify a bit of the cost—as is, there is nothing special or really worth the price. Labeling this an “intensive anti-aging treatment” is like labeling a typewriter a sophisticated communication device.
- Contains some good ingredients for dry skin.
- Does not contain hyaluronic acid “fragments” or any other form of this skin-repairing ingredient.
- Claims imply you’ll get results similar to dermal fillers using hyaluronic acid, but that’s not what you’ll see.
Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn’t possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that’s exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. This combination of products (remember, one product doesn’t do it all) has extensive research showing how they can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness. You’ll find them on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products
Intensive anti-aging treatment with a double concentration of Hyaluronic Acid Fragments (1%) to redensify and fight against skin slackening.
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Behenyl Alcohol, Octyldodecanol, Glyceryl Linoleate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Ammonium Acryloyl Dimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Arginine HCI, Benzoic Acid, BHT, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance
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.