Product Type: Avene body care
Newest Review: ... at all and its consistency is rather watery, but it really cleanse! It's based on Avene Thermal Mineral Water rich in vitamins and min... more
Super Skincare From The South of France
Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser
Member Name: luxuryliner
Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser
Advantages: Works very well, no chemicals, colours or fragrances.
Disadvantages: It's a "no-water" cleanser but is better washed off; price; needs cotton wool pads too
So who or what is Avene? It's basically a niche French skin care and cosmetics company (as my friend says, you can trust the French to make a big fuss about beauty and skin care - and get it right when it comes to products!) Based in Avene, in Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France, the company claims that the natural thermal spring water from the Saint Odile spring has unique healing properties which enable their products to work on "each level of skin sensitivity" from "sensitive, intolerant to allergic". The company also runs the Avene Hydrotherapy Centre, which has been going since 1743 and offers medical treatments, involving the thermal spring water, for patients with skin problems.
Before you buy anything from Avene, they recommend you take their "Skin Diagnosis" test online or in the leaflets they always have on any Avene counter, which is a simple series of questions (about things like acne, eczema, sensitivity etc) designed to diagnose what your skin needs and what products would be best suited to it. My skin came out as "Intolerant" and I was recommended this product, the Extremely Gentle Cleanser.
What with all that history behind it, the skin diagnosis and the fact that Avene don't use harsh chemicals, colours or scents, I had high hopes for the cleanser. It isn't a showy product, or particularly prettily packaged; it's basically a clear bottle, rounded at the top and flat at the bottom, with "Avene" and a swirly design in a burnt orange colour, followed by the name of the product in lots of different languages. It does come in a white cardboard box with an instruction and information leaflet, which gives it an expensive but also slightly medicinal feel - this isn't marketed as a 'luxury' product but rather an exclusive yet functional one. The cleanser is a gel, white in colour but not creamy at all, which was a relief as I hate putting anything oily, rich or greasy anywhere near my face! It hasn't got any scent at all.
It's a good job it wasn't a cream, because to my horror I saw, after I'd bought it, that it isn't a 'wash-off' or foaming cleanser but a wipe-off, no-water formula. You smear it all over your face, then get it off with a cotton wool pad - my idea of hell, as I do like to wash whatever product it is off and feel really clean. Nevertheless, I gave it a go and squirted a big blob onto my hands then rubbed it onto my face. It feels cool and fairly runny, not thick or creamy but not a bad feeling at all. You also don't need to use all that much at one go; for ages I put far too much on at once and it was difficult to get it all off, plus it meant that the level went down at an alarming rate. A 10p sized blob is really all you need.
Once I'd rubbed it in (it's better if you give it a good rub rather than letting it just sit on your face) it sort of foams up a little - not exactly real foam, but it does go whiter and thicker. It's time to wipe it off then, which is best done with cotton wool pads, particularly as you can then see all the dirt you get off your face (always scary). I know it's a no-water cleanser, but I can't stand not rinsing, so I must admit that I do add another step to the process and do a quick sweep over my face with a wet cotton wool pad afterwards, then pat it dry with a dry pad.
And the results? Fantastic. It always gets all traces of dirt and makeup off my face, makes my skin tight and clean without drying it out, and I swear has reduced the number of breakouts I have. And although I do rinse it off, I reckon that if I were travelling or had to stay somewhere without easy access to water, it would work very well just wiped off. The other main plus point for me is that it's not greasy and doesn't leave a greasy film or residue on my skin.
So how much? Unfortunately it's not cheap at £7.50 for 200ml, but I find that I don't have to use all that much in one go and so it lasts for quite a long time - I bought a bottle about a month and a half ago and have only used one third. It's expensive, but it works for me and I'd rather have just the one bottle of something effective than a variety of things which might not actually work. However, the other issue that I'd like to highlight is that you have to factor in the cost of cotton wool pads as well: they're cheap but you do get through them, and I wouldn't advise using anything other than these to get it off. I tried using tissues when I'd run out of cotton wool pads and the results weren't pretty - disintegrated bits of tissue mixed with cleanser all over my face rather defeated the object, I think!
I got my bottle from Boswells in Oxford, but I've seen the full range of Avene products in Boots as well. Overall, Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser is a great product and one which I wish I'd discovered much earlier! I'm taking one star off for the price (particularly when you take the cost of the cotton pads into account) and the fact that I still feel the need to rinse. I like the company, though, and I think that I'll definitely be buying something from their range next time - though I'll probably make sure it's a foaming cleanser or something that specifically needs to be washed off!
Summary: A great cleanser, but it's expensive and I like to wash it off as well - which takes a lot of time!