Avene Skin Recovery Cream Review: Why it’s NOT Worth it

by | Last updated Apr 18, 2020 | Reviews | 25 comments

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Sup everybody! Today I will be reviewing a skincare product that my fifth, yes my FIFTH, dermatologist recommended to me when I was going through my crazy skin problems: the Avene Skin Recovery Cream.


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This is a super super basic moisturizer that’s well tolerated across a plethora of skin concerns, from acne to severely irritated skin. Or as Avene put it themselves, it has the…

“highest level of tolerance for hypersensitive and irritated skin.”

Let’s break it down, and see what I do and don’t like about this facial cream. Spoiler Alert: it’s too expensive for such a basic formula and there are cheaper dupes out there.

Avene Skin Recovery Cream Ingredients and Benefits.

A very minimalist formula. Check it out!


Avene Thermal Spring Water, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Squalane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Clycohexasiloxane, Serine, Carbomer, Tetrasodium EDTA, Triethanolamine.

Like I always say about skincare products, I really like simple ingredient lists. It makes products easier to analyze and figure out whether they’ll be compatible with our skin or not. This one really only contains 4 ingredients of interest. Let’s go over each.

  • Avene Thermal Spring Water

Before I summarize the research on this ingredient, just remember that a lot of these studies were funded by Avene or similar skincare companies that use thermal spring water in their formulas. Whether you think that creates a conflict of interest is up to you.

I’m not here to bad mouth companies that go to the extent of testing their ingredients. In my opinion, their effort at least deserves some credit and is preferable to the companies and brands that try to sell expensive polished turds.

With that said, here’s what these studies have found:

  • An 84 day randomized, controlled clinical trial involving 74 patients, 40 of whom used thermal spring water, found that it reduced erythema (redness), itching, skin tightness, and stinging after a laser resurfacing procedure. (1)
  • A double-blind, comparative study with 25 patients who either had acne or sun damaged skin found that Avene thermal spring water reduced the inflammation, discomfort, and pain following photodynamic therapy (PDT) — better known as “light therapy.” A procedure used to attack abnormal, sun-damaged, or pre-cancerous cells. (2)
  • A split face comparative study on 20 patients found that thermal spring water reduced pain, dryness, and redness after a fractional laser resurfacing session for melasma (i.e. brown or black spots of discoloration). (3)
  • A clinical study with 92 patients found that thermal spring water completely cleared up psoriasis in 8% of patients, and marginal improvement (about 50%) was seen in 48% of participants. (4) In case you don’t know what psoriasis looks like, here’s an old photo of mine.

And last but not least, one study found that thermal spring water can reduce the irritation caused by tretinoin when treating acne. (5)

All in all, the takeway here is that thermal spring water is probably good for reducing irritation. There still needs to be more research done, but these preliminary studies show it’s better than just plain ole’ water. So kudos to Avene for incorporating it into this moisturizer.

  • Mineral Oil

Contrary to popular belief mineral oil isn’t bad at all! It’s really just baby oil without fragrance, and it’s considered one of the best tolerated oils available today. (6, 7) In fact, one survey involving 514 participants conducted on skincareaddiction.reddit.com found it was the most frequently used oil for OCM across every single skin type (acne-prone, oily, dry, sensitive, balanced, dehydrated, rosacea etc.) (8)

It has some emollient, but mostly occlusive properties meaning it creates a film over the top of skin which keeps it hydrated by preventing water from evaporating. (9) This is why mineral oil is considered non-comedogenic. (10) In other words, its molecule structure is simply too big to penetrate the skin and clog pores.

  • Glycerin

A humectant that moisturizers the skin by making water molecules adhere to the epidermis.

  • Squalane

One of my all-time favorite oils! This has a lovely texture, does a FANTASTIC job of hydrating the skin, and is an ordinary part of human sebum or the oil that our skin produces naturally.

Related post: Squalane for President: A Thorough Review of This Fine-ASS Oil!

And that does it for all the ingredients of interest. Like I said earlier, just a very basic formula that has eliminated everything potentially problematic to ensure it is tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types.

Cons of the Avene Skin Recovery Cream.

Despite it’s very minimal ingredient this does contain one ingredient of note that could be problematic to some: Glyceryl Stearate. 

This an ester that’s used to emulsify, that is, bind water and oil in the formula. It’s a very common emulsifier found in many products, and is generally well-tolerated. However, if you’re prone to adult acne or have sensitivities to yeast malassezia, it might cause your skin to act up.

You will know if you’re sensitive to malassezia if you suffer from any of the following skin conditions: atopic dermatitis (eczema), dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, tinea versicolor (pityriasis versicolor), or malassezia folliculitis (fungal acne).

I have written an extensive guide about how to treat these conditions as well as explain why esters should be avoided. Link here for those interested. Point being, the glyceryl stearate in this formula won’t be suitable for all skin types.

Secondly, the Avene Skin Recovery Cream contains preservatives. This isn’t a bad thing! In fact, cosmetics SHOULD have preservatives to ensure user safety and prevent bacterial overgrowth. However, there is documentation showing they may cause irritation to hyper-sensitive skin.

For this reason, I think the Avene Extreme Tolerance Emulsion is better suited for all skin types, and what people with extremely sensitive skin are actually looking for!

Unlike the Avene Recovery Cream, the Avene Extreme Tolerance Emulsion doesn’t contain glyceryl stearate or preservatives. Rest assured, it is still very sanitary cosmetic product because it comes in a patented sterilized and hermetic (i.e. airtight) container. Here’s the full ingredient list:


As you can see it still has all the beneficial components of the Avene Skin Recovery Cream (i.e. squalane, glycerin, thermal spring water), but excludes what makes the Recovery Cream less than idea for hyper-sensitive skin (i.e. preservatives and glyceryl stearate).

For this reason, I recommend the Avene Extreme Tolerance Emulsion over the Avene Skin Recovery Cream. I think the product is just as good, but even more suitable for all skin types.

Application, Feel, and Scent.

The first time I used the Avene Skin Recovery Cream I was a little confused with the packaging. As you can see from the photo below there’s no opening for the cream to come out!


Rest assured it’s just a sealed dispenser to prevent the product from oxidizing and going bad. All you have to do is squeeze hard enough and the product will come out. It’s definitely a unique feature I can’t say I’ve seen before.


The cream itself goes on thick, but like I said earlier it’s a pretty lightweight. It spreads easily and feels like very thick slimy water. It dries matte, but you can feel the moisture it leaves behind. If you have any idea what mineral oil feels like after its been wiped off the skin, that’s the exact sensation this gives.

Overall a good application process that I have no complaints for.

It has no fragrance.


  • Ingredients: 3/5

Just a very basic formula with a few beneficial ingredients including thermal spring water, mineral oil, glycerin, and squalene.

  • Benefits: 4/5

Gives lightweight moisture and should be well tolerated across many (but not all) skin types.

  • Application: 5/5

Goes on thick but spreads easily, and dries matte.

  • Packaging: 5/5

Comes in a nice tube with a sealed dispenser to prevent oxidation.

  • Value: 3/5

Just a little bit pricey for my liking.

Overall: 4/5 (good, but not perfect)

avene skin recovery cream

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All in all, I think this is a decent product but personally recommend the Avene Extreme Tolerance Emulsion over this. It has all the same beneficial ingredients MINUS the preservatives and esters, which could prove problematic to those with fungal sensitives, or hyper-sensitive skin.

Hopefully you found this review helpful! And I’m sorry if I made you less excited about trying this product. :/