Avene Skin Recovery Cream Review: Why it’s NOT Worth it
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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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
A humectant that moisturizers the skin by making water molecules adhere to the epidermis.
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:
AVÈNE THERMAL SPRING WATER, SQUALANE, BEHENYL ALCOHOL, CAPRYLIC / CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, GLYCERIN, SODIUM ACRYLATES C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, WATER.
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)
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. :/
So, what are the dupes? I actually like this creme, but it IS expensive. What also works instead?
“there are cheaper dupes out there” What are they, please? 🙂
After years and years of anxiety over the flakey, red, angry and acneic skin, finally I realised my problem was and is SebDerm& Rosacea party on my face! After your Malessezia article so many things have become even more clear! Let me ask you a brief question. Not sure about the ingredients but recently the ONLY creme that made my face more moist, less red and flakey after so many years have become Avene’s Cicalfate. I use it daily and I was wondering if the ingredients are ok. It’s just a dream in a tub! However not sure if i am doing more harm to my fungal face than good. But it seems like the barrier of my skin is getting better!
Also I am desperately in need of a cosmetically elegant sunscreen. Do you think the calm series of Paula’s Choice moisturiser with spf would work? The Malessezia list unfortunately had lots of japanese brands with alcohol and i dont really like LRP Anthelios!
Please HELP 🙁
Super super enjoying your site. The malassezia info sheet is mind-blowing and makes total sense why so many amazing products have made my face into garbage. I picked up some of this cream since it has minimal ingredients and thought it would be helpful to get me through my most recent face destruction (the catalyst for discovering this blog). The one I picked up is the same as you have written about BUT the ladies at the store excitedly gave me samples and a trial pack which had versions of the cream with shea butter and safflower oil (exact same name, very confusing). Not a big deal for most but if people are dealing with seborrheic dermatitis or fungal acne, they’ll want to double check ingredients. Just thought I’d share this so others don’t grab the destroyer version by accident. Its very weird to have two versions of this product with an identical name.
My skin is a serious issue for me, it can be patchy, red, and get intensely dry. The Somaluxe Redness Repair cream works impressively well. I’ve been using it twice a day after washing my face both morning and evening. It has a pleasant scent and hydrates my skin. It has improved quite a bit of my patchiness, and my cheeks especially have smoothed out.
So i just purchased the Skin Recovery Cream and THEN saw your review….I used it last night and no ill effects. In fact, it worked quite well. About 5 years ago I think I had fungal breakouts on my forehead but they’ve since cleared due to an extremely minimalist routine. My bottom line is that I’d like to use this product since I’ve already invested in it (and can’t return) and then purchase your recommendation next round….but it is definitely not worth any breakouts. What would you advise? Just not using it on my forehead? Skipping it altogether? I’m concerned if I wait to see breakouts then the damage will be done and it’ll be too late/a long process to reverse…
Thank you for all that information. I have a question though, do you know what’s the squalane source of avene? I would like to use this product, but not if they are using sharks for it.
ive been looking for dupes for the avene tolerance extreme emulsion that Ive seen some threads on reddit saying they us the Avene tolerance extreme cleansing lotion instead? its supposed to be a cleanser but the ingredients list is incredibly similar with the difference that instead of water on the emulsion its carbomer on the cleansing lotion… ppl use this as a moisturizer instead of a cleanser too! do you have thoughts on this? its kinda funny since the price difference is extreme!
agh! Delete previous comment – it applies to the tolerance extreme creme , not the recovery cream. Ugh. (still good to know, though, what gives with the same thing having different ingredients?)
I used the avene night cream and next morning I had red flushed blush cheek just one side, could you please please please tell me-it’s normal or it doesn’t suit me?? I have oily acne prone fairly sensitive skin
The photo of the ingredients you added is different than the ingredients you listed below the photo as well as in your breakdown. I have this cream and the photo you posted is accurate.
I have tried the Skin Recovery Cream (that you talk about here) from Avene Thermale and the recovery mask too from the extreme tolerance range and both made my face red ,itchy ,stingy, hot and red all over within a few minutes.
I was trying to gather what item from the list of ingredients might be the culprit ; first I thought the glycerine might come from soya which I am allergic too but on their website it says is soya free so it could very well be the item you point out here(glyceryl stearate)……..
I like the idea of sterile cosmetics and I thought this range might be for me but I shan’t be trying anything else as I already threw “down the drain” enough money from teh 2 items I bought after 2 uses of each they ended up in the bin.
It just goes to show that people can react to ranges like this 🙁
Hi I am just wondering about the Avene Extreme Tolerance Emulsion you mentioned, as it contains BEHENYL ALCOHOL and my friend was saying actually products containing alcohol are not suitable for dry and eczema skin. Would you still recommend the extreme tolerance cream for eczema skin?
Since La Roche Posay/Toleriane has been purchased by another large company (L’oreal, I heard), the products have undergone formulation changes, for the worse. I have been searching for a substitute for the Soothing Protective Skincare lotion I used for years, and had calmed my rosacea angry skin. First it was the elimination of their bar soap and then the complete change of the skincare formulas. My face is now acts up and am at my wit’s end. Have been looking for a replacement for my poor skin and have looked into Avene products. The Avene Extreme Tolerance is the product I’ve looked into, and will now order to try. Your review has convinced me even more to make this purchase.
Thanks for the insight. It’s very helpful!
I love the Avene Extreme Tolerance Emulsion, it really helped calm my skin. But sadly not valuable in Australia anymore.
what about the Avene Cicalfate – creme reparatrice?