When it comes to the ingredients on the back of skin care products, it’s not uncommon to see water at the top of the list. What is uncommon, however, is when that water has been making its way through mineral-infused rocks deep beneath the earth’s surface for more than 50 years. That, however, is exactly what makes the products created by French skin care brand, Avène, so unique.
I wouldn’t blame you if you’re questioning how water alone could have such impact on someone’s skin, which is why I took up the brand on an invitation to experience the magical benefits of the thermal spring water at its hydrotherapy center in the south of France — not far from the source of the water itself. More than 3,000 patients per year travel to Avène’s Hydrotherapy Center to have their skin transformed through personalized treatments such as baths, body wraps, showers, and more. Over the course of three weeks, these dermatologist-prescribed routines — all featuring the thermal spring water that the brand is renowned for — have an extraordinary impact on the skin of those seeking help for conditions like rosacea, atopic dermatitis, eczema, and burns caused as a result of cancer treatments.
Patients range from infants to adults, and many of their conditions are so severe that their quality of life drastically improves after visiting the Avène Hydrotherapy Center. Sourced directly from France’s Sainte-Odile Spring, the treatment water’s unique properties are a result of rainwater’s journey through rocks where it picks up trace elements, silicates, and microflora. Though first discovered in the late 1730s, more than 100 clinical studies have been performed on the water to back the claims of its healing benefits.
Besides experiencing a personalized schedule of about 72 hydrotherapy treatments (which typically incorporate fragrance-free, sensitive skin-safe products from the brand’s lineup) during their three week-long stay, patients at the center also take classes to learn more about their conditions and are taught how to use Avène’s products to better manage their skin conditions on their own once the return home, truly making their journey a life-changing and impactful experience.
During my time at the center, I spent two days trialing a handful of the treatments: a 15-minute bath complete with massaging jets that loosened the dead skin cells on my body, followed by a 10-minute shower that sent all that dryness down the drain. Both sessions were incredibly gentle — everything is done with hypersensitive skin in mind — and the water was warm, not uncomfortable but also very different from the scorching-hot showers I usually take.
Next, I sat in at a station that continuously misted the water on my (normally dry) complexion for an additional 10 minutes. After that, I was treated to a facial and massage, both of which featured the brand’s best-selling XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream and just as gentle as my bath and shower. While fewer products are used in the course of the session, I enjoyed the simplicity and was more than pleased when my post-facial glow lasted an entire week.
After I had the chance to bathe in, shower in, and even drink the water, my skin felt smoother and softer than it’s been in years. And again — this softness was achieved without having to slather on thick, greasy layers of moisturizer.
Below, find out more about the Avène products that I’ve been keeping in my beauty cabinet since my trip.
My Avène All-Stars
One of Avène’s hero products, this soothing mist is the same water that’s taken directly from the spring and used in all of the treatments. I’ve been using it after cleansing (which is what the team recommended) and whenever I needed a refreshing spritz during the muggy summer months. Another pro tip I learned from the team: Do not shake the bottle before you spray. It’s manufactured with the exact amount of gas needed to propel the water, and shaking it causes more gas to be released. The result? A small amount of water will get trapped in the bottle, preventing you from using it to the very last drop.
Avène’s mineral sunscreen is a major summer savior that protected my sensitive skin from the sun’s rays. I like a higher SPF, so I appreciated that this one offers 50 and easily blended into my complexion.
One of the brand’s newer offerings (and one of its first that’s specifically formulated for acne-prone skin), this treatment is great for someone who is prone to pimples but has very sensitive skin. I’ve been using it as a spot treatment on my forehead and chin (where I tend to get occasional breakouts), and I was pleased to see that it cleared up my blemishes sans any redness or irritation.
Merial-Kieny, C., Castex-Rizzi, N., Selas, B., Mery, S., & Guerrero, D. (2011). Avène Thermal Spring Water: an active component with specific properties. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 25 Suppl 1, 2–5. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2010.03892.x
Mias, C., Maret, A., Gontier, E., Carrasco, C., Satge, C., Bessou-Touya, S., Coubetergues, H., Bennett-Kennett, R., Dauskardt, R. H., & Duplan, H. (2020). Protective properties of Avène Thermal Spring Water on biomechanical, ultrastructural and clinical parameters of human skin. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 34 Suppl 5, 15–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.16450