Product Review: Avene Skin Recovery Cream

avene skin recovery cream 01

Name: Skin recovery Cream
Brand: Avene
Size: 40ml
Price: $34.00

From Avene’s website:
Calming cream specifically designed for naturally sensitive skin (fair, thin, prone to redness), or skin which has become sensitized due to climatic conditions, excessive cleansing, drying cosmetics or dermatological treatments. It quickly calms irritation, helps restore the hydrolipidic film and provides long-lasting protection. Its formula has been specially developed with a minimum of ingredients, all selected for their gentleness.

What I liked:
– lightweight texture, sinks in quickly
– moisturizes skin, leaving it soft and smooth
– creates a protective barrier that prevents water from evaporating and external agents from penetrating skin
– gentle, doesn’t irritate skin

What I didn’t like:
– very basic formula
– not moisturizing enough for very dry skin

Dry, intolerant skin can be a nightmare. It gets all red, starts to flake, and becomes prone to all kinds of irritations. Sometimes, it seems everything you put on it will cause havoc. *sighs*

Avene wants to come to the rescue. Its Skin Recovery Cream claims to be able to quickly calm irritations, help restore the hydrolipidic film and provide long-lasting protection. How does it accomplish all this?

Mineral oil. Are you put off? Many are. Mineral oil is derived from oil, which is enough for some people to refuse to use it. They are scared it will cause cancer or other health problems. But it doesn’t. Cosmetic grade mineral oil, the only kind allowed to be used in cosmetics, must undergo a rigorous purifying process to rid it of all toxins and impurities. So, it is safe.

But is it effective? Yep. One of the most moisturing ingredients available today, mineral oil works by creating a protective barrier on the skin. Skin already has its own protective barrier. When it is intact, skin is soft, supple, and hydrated.

But when it is broken (harsh weather, sun damage, drying cleansers, and overexfoliation are just some of the things that can damage it), it allows water to evaporate and bacteria to penetrate inside the body. It’s this that leads to dryness and causes irritations.

That’s when mineral oil comes in. The barrier it creates prevents water loss, restoring the hydrolipidic film of the skin, and offers protection from external agents that are now unable to get in. Now that the skin’s barrier function is restored, irritations calm down.

avene skin recovery cream 02

So, yes, Avene Skin Recovery does what it claims, which is a good thing. But I am a bit disappointed its mechanism of action is so simple. Mineral oil is indeed a good choice for a cream designed for dry and sensitive skin, but I would have loved to see some anti-inflammatory agents, and maybe antioxidants and SPF, included too.

Instead the formula is pretty basic. In addition to mineral oil, it contains glycerin, which helps replenish moisture in the skin by attracting some from the environment. The other ingredients are slip agents (they allow the product to glide on smoothly), emulsifiers (prevent the oily and watery parts of a formula from separating) and preservatives.

Even the Thermal Spring Water Avene is so famous for is pretty unremarkable. All the studies that rave about its alleged benefits for the skin were conducted by the brand. But at least, the cream doesn’t contain fragrance, alcohol, or other irritating ingredients that sometimes sneak their way even into products especially formulated for sensitive skin.

Enough about the ingredients. Let’s talk about the texture now. That’s lightweight, spreads easily on the skin, and absorbs quickly. But this also means it’s not moisturizing enough for very dry skin. I’d also say it performs better in the summer rather than winter. But again, that depends on how much the weather dries out your skin.

So, is it worth purchasing? That depends. Personally, I don’t like to spend money on moisturizers with very basic, albeit effective, formulas. I want something that both moisturizes and helps fight premature aging. This one only moisturizes. But if you are ok with that, and have very sensitive, irritations-prone, skin that reacts to anything, then a basic formula with few ingredients like this may be worth considering.

Avene Thermal Spring Water, Mineral Oil, Cyclomethicone, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Squalane, Benzoic Acid, Carbomer, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Triethanolamine

Available at: Amazon, Derma Store, and Escentual

Avene Skin recovery Cream has a lightweight texture and very basic formula that moisturizes skin (as long as it is not very dry), leaving it soft and smooth. Gentle, it doesn’t irritate skin.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration.In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Is Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar Better Than The Original?

philosophy renewed hope in a jar

Hope sells more creams that science. No one knows this better than Philosophy. Its iconic Hope In A Jar range targets the optimist in us, but there’s little in it that can do skin much good. It just leaves you (and your skin) hoping for more.

But could Renewed Hope In A Jar, the new addition to the family, provide that something more the original formula lacks? Let’s take a look at the ingredients:

What Philosophy Says

philosophy skin labs’ original breakthrough moisturizer is changing the face of skin care again. the revolutionary lightweight, whipped formula of hope in a jar is renewed and infused with a new innovation: clinically proven skin renewal technology. this groundbreaking formulation features a triple blend of alpha hydroxy acids, 3 forms of hyaluronate plus an asian fruit extract, delivering an even longer-lasting glow and continuous hydration benefits.

Ingredient Analysis

glycolic acid benefits

Glycolic Acid

One of my main problems with the original Hope In A Jar is its choice of exfoliating ingredient. Although the brand says it contains lactic acid, the formula includes only its derivative lauryl lactate, which, sadly, doesn’t share the same exfoliating properties. Lauryl lactate only enhances the spreadability of the cream onto your skin, but won’t remove any dead cells from its surface.

Thankfully, Philosophy has made a much better choice for the new Renewed Hope In A Jar: glycolic acid. My favourite exfoliating ingredient, glycolic acid works by dissolving the “glue” that holds skin cells together, allowing them to slough off.

But that’s not all. Glycolic acid has also been shown in studies to boost collagen production, improve photoaged skin, treat hyperpigmentation, and hydrate skin! Pretty impressive, isn’t it? The only problem is that it can increase photosensitivity (make skin more prone to sun damage). But that’s easy to fix. Just use the cream at night, or, follow it up with sunscreen during the day.



Renewed Hope In A Jar contains a lot more silicones than the original formula. I don’t mind that at all. In fact, I’m quite fond of silicones. They enhance the spreadability of the cream, allowing it to glide on more easily; give skin that silky soft feeling that makes you want to touch your face all the time; temporarily fill in fine lines and wrinkles, so that they look smaller; and create a protective barrier that slows down water loss.

The latter is seen as a problem by many people. There is this misconceptions that this barrier can suffocate skin, but that’s not true. Silicones have a particular molecule structure made of larger molecules with wider spaces between each molecule. That makes the barrier they create both protective and breathable.

The real “problem” with silicones is that they only make skin look younger, but can’t boost collagen production, fight free radicals, or anything else that’s needed to truly fight premature ageing. They only provide a quick, short-term fix. For long-term results, you need goodies such as glycolic acid (check) and antioxidants (check?).



Unfortunately, both the original and Renewed Hope In A Jar contain only a handful of antioxidants, and in low amounts too. Gone from the new version is Retinyl Palmitate, one of the weakest forms of Vitamin A. It was replaced by yeast extract. Both versions also contain Tocopheryl Acetate, a form of Vitamin E that can both fight free radicals and moisturize skin.

Few antioxidants are better than no antioxidants at all. But, to make this a true state-of-the-art moisturizer, Philosophy should consider adding a few more, and package them properly too. That means no jars. Antioxidants lose a bit of their effectiveness every time they are exposed to light and air, which happens whenever you open the lid.

Final considerations on the formula

Glycolic acid is the true star of this moisturizer. The rest of the formula is pretty basic: humectants, like glycerin, to hydrate skin; emollients, like Cetearyl Alchol (a non-irritating type of alcohol) to make skin soft and smooth; silicones to temporarily fill in wrinkles; and a little bunch of antioxidants to help fight premature aging. Its lightweight, creamy texture makes it suitable for all skin types bar very dry.

Full Ingredient List

Aqua/Water/Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycolic Acid, Dimethicone, Polyacrylamide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ceteareth-20, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Laureth-7, Citric Acid, Chlorphenesin, Mandelic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Ethlhexyl Palmitate, Propanediol, Parfum/Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Evodia Rutaecarpa Fruit Extract, Limonene, Faex/Yeast Extract/Extrait De Levure, Magnesium Stearate, Opuntia Coccinellifera Flower Extract, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Caprylyl Glycol, BHT, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Silanetriol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbic Acid, Hexylene Glycol, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163)


Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar is packaged in a 2 oz jar. Available at Sephora and Ulta, it costs 47.00.

The Bottom Line

Although Renewed Hope In A Jar is much better than the original formula, it still contains too few antioxidants. The jar packaging compromises their efficacy and needs to be revamped too.

Have you tried the new Renewed Hope In A Jar?

Product Review: Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Day SPF 18

vichy liftactiv retinol ha

Name: LiftActiv Retinol HA
Brand: Vichy
Size: 1.35 fl oz
Price: $47.50

From Vichy’s website:
Anti-aging moisturizer with SPF 18. Formulated with advanced Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid to deliver an immediate filling and resurfacing action.

What I liked:
– hydrates skin and makes it look plumper
– makes wrinkles appear smaller
– contains retinol, which helps fight premature ageing
– contains SPF
– although the texture is on the thick side, it spreads easily and absorbs quickly

What I didn’t like:
– not moisturizing enough for very dry skin
– not suitable for oily skin
– retinol can cause irritations in people with sensitive skin

Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA boats of being able to fight the appearance of all 3 types of wrinkles: permanent, reversible and genetically-programmed. It’s the first time that I hear someone classify wrinkles this way, so let’s see what Vichy means.

Apparently, permanent wrinkles refer to the deep, etched lines that just won’t go away, no matter what you put on your face. Reversible are those lines caused by dryness or irritations. Finally, I suppose programmed refers to the wrinkles, caused by genetic or cumulative unprotected sun exposure, we are all bound to get as we get older.

Can Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA fight them all? Yes and no. This cream can make wrinkles look smaller, and contains ingredients that can reduce or prevent lines, but it won’t completely get rid of all signs of ageing, no matter by what they are caused. No topical cream can do that.

But how does it make wrinkles look smaller? Silicones and humectants. Vichy LiftActiv contains a generous dose of dimethicone, a silicone that temporarily fill in lines and wrinkles, reducing their appearance (and no, it doesn’t suffocate skin!). Dimethicone also gives slip to the cream, so that, despite its thick texture, it glides smoothly on the skin, and makes your face silky soft to the touch.

Humectants are ingredients that draw water from the environment into the skin, thus replenishing its moisture levels. The main humectant in this cream is glycerin, but a small amount of sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of hyaluronic acid, is also included.

Sodium hylauronate is a lot more effective than glycerin because it can hold 1000 times its weight in water, and it works well both in high and low humidity conditions. As a result, skin is well-hydrated and looks plumper. So, if your wrinkles are caused by dryness, this should help a little.

If your wrinkles are caused by sun damage, or you just want to prevent new lines from forming, then retinol is your ally. Considered by dermatologist as the golden standard in wrinkle-busting, it can increase cellular turnover, boost collagen production, and firm skin. Retinol can help reduce wrinkles, not just their appearance, but it works really slowly, especially at a low concentration.

And there really isn’t much of it here. That’s surprising because, when I first used Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA, it caused a very mild burning sensation in my skin. That usually happens when you first use retinol (your skin needs time to adjust to it), but I’ve been using it for years, and never experienced anything like that.

It disappeared when my skin got used to the retinol, but if you have sensitive skin, stay away from this. Instead, you should opt for a product where retinol is time-released (meaning it is delivered a little at a time over a period of several hours rather than all at once), like Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate For Deep Wrinkles. That’s still very effective, but gentler.

The cream also contains Octisalate and Octocrylene, which protect against UVB rays, and Avobenzone, which neutralizes the damaging effects of UVA rays. Although it is impossible to reach the SPF level stated on the packaging (you’d have to apply too much), a little protection is always better than nothing and can help prevent some of the damage, including wrinkles, caused by UV rays.

Who should use this cream? Only those with normal, combination, or slightly dry skin who don’t have too many, or too deep, wrinkles yet. For older skin, a cream with a higher concentration of retinol paired with a bunch of antioxidants, like Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer with Retinol, would be more effective. Those with oily skin, instead, won’t love its thick but fast-absorbing texture, while those with very dry skin won’t find it moisturizing enough for their needs.

Active: Avobenzone 3%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 7%. Other: Water, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, Poly C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides, Sucrose Stearate, Silica, Beeswax, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Methylparaben, Sodium Polyacrylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Retinol, Phenoxyethanol Adenosine, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance

Available at: Amazon and Skin Store

Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Day SPF 18 hydrates skin, temporarily fills in fine lines and wrinkles, and can help fight premature ageing. But it’s not suitable for very dry, oily, or sensitive skin.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: the review contains an affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Can I Skip Moisturizer And Use Serum Alone?

use serum alone

I was a late adopter of serums. For the longest time,  I didn’t see their use. I already had a moisturizer, which I religiously used every day and night. So, what did I need a serum for? Then, I tried one, and was amazed at the results.

Serums are the real workhorses of skincare. They are especially formulated to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients, such as antioxidants and skin-lightening agents, deeper into the skin. Mosturizers can contain those goodies too, but, usually, in lower amounts that work more slowly.

So, then I started thinking about ditching my moisturizer instead. If serums are more effective, wouldn’t it make more sense to only use them, and save both money and time in the morning? Well, that depends. A moisturizer has its uses too, and can be a serum’s best friend.

Moisturizers are especially designed to improve the moisture levels of the skin and repair its natural protective barrier. Cold weather, unprotected sun exposure, and harsh skincare products can all damage this barrier. When that happens, skin is not able to retain moisture well, and becomes dry, flaky, and more prone to irritations. Moisturizers contain ingredients (like fatty acids, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid) that can fix this barrier and seal moisture in, keeping skin hydrated.

If you have normal or oily skin that’s healthy and doesn’t need any additional moisture, you can get away with skipping moisturizer. Sometimes I do. After applying my retinol serum all over my face at night, I only dab moisturizer on my dry areas, skipping the t-zone.

But if you have dry and damaged skin, then following up your serum with a moisturizer is a must. A moisturizer will then seal in your serum, preventing the added moisture that provides from evaporating from your skin, and create a shield to protect your face from the environment.

The Bottom Line

Although they sometimes share the same ingredients, serums and moistruizers have different functions. Serums deliver higher concentrations of antioxidants and other goodies into the skin, while moisturizers seal in moisture and repair the skin’s protective barrier. Unless your skin is oily or in perfect condition, both are a must.

Have you ever used serums alone?

Product Review: Nivea Creme

nivea creme 01

Name: Creme
Brand: Nivea
Size: 200 ml
Price: £3.39

From Nivea’s website:
NIVEA Creme’s unique preservative free formulation has remained under lock and key since its birth in 1911. It provides the skin with all it needs to stay pure, making it the all time beauty classic!

What I liked:
– thick texture absorbs quickly on dry skin
– very moisturizing, leaves even extra dry skin soft and smooth for hours
– the price

What I didn’t like:
– very basic formula; it can only moisturize skin
– not suitable for combination or oily skin

I’ve already talked about Nivea Creme before, but I have yet to write a proper review about it. It’s high time I remedied that, don’t you think? So here we go, these are my thoughts on the German version of this cream.

Nivea Creme is very old. It was first formulated more than a century ago, in 1911, and since then has only undergone an aesthetic rejuvenation. The retro yellow jar has morphed into the minimalist blue container we are all familiar with, but its content has stayed pretty much the same throughout the decades.

And that’s the problem. In 1911, Nivea Creme’s blend of mineral oil, glycerin, paraffin, and waxes was cutting edge. If you wanted to treat dry skin back then, you could hardly have chosen a better cream. Now, though, it is terribly outdated. In the past decades, skincare research has made leaps and bounds, bringing us a lot of other ingredients, such as antioxidants, ceramides, and amino acids, that are very beneficial for dry skin.

And yet, Nivea has taken the old adage approach, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Why? Nivea Creme has always been very popular, so maybe the brand is just scared of losing customers if it modernizes it. Or, maybe, it’s just laziness. After all, even though the ingredients in this cream can only moisturize skin, and nothing more, they do that very well.

Mineral oil and paraffin may have recently gained a (totally undeserved) bad reputation for being derived from oil, but they still are some of the most moisturizing ingredients available on the market. They work by creating a protective barrier that slows down water loss. Glycerin, instead, attracts water from the environment into the skin, providing the hydration boost dry skin badly needs.

nivea creme 02

Part of me can see why people are impressed. Whenever I apply it all over my body after a shower or bath, my skin, which is very dry, becomes soft and supple, and stays hydrated for most of the day. Not a lot of creams have that effect on parched, super thirsty skin.

But some do. Body butters from House Of Gloi and The Body Shop are godsend for very dry skin too. Made with shea butter and moisturizing oils, they are available in lots of different scents and flavours, all more pleasant than the clean and waxy scent that emanates from a jar of Nivea Creme.

They are all easier to apply as well. Although not as thick as the American version, the German cream has a thick consistency that doesn’t easily spread evenly all over my skin. But at least, it sinks in quickly, drying to a satiny, rather than greasy, finish.

Nivea Creme can also be used on the face. But do so only if your skin is very dry. This cream is too rich for other skin types. On my slightly oily t-zone, it feels greasier and takes longer to absorb. But even if you have dry skin, don’t forget to apply an anti-aging serum beforehand. This cream, alone, does nothing to keep wrinkles at bay, so you need extra help if you want to age gracefully.

Basically, if all you are looking for in a cream are moisturizing properties and a very cheap price, then Nivea Creme is hard to beat. But if, like me, you think that a face cream should also contain anti-aging ingredients, and a body cream, be infused with a fun and pleasant scent, then it’s worth to spend a bit more for something with a more complex, modern, and enjoyable formula.

Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Glycerin, Lanolin Alcohol (Eucerit®), Paraffin, Panthenol, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearates, Citric Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Stearate, Parfum, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamyl Alcohol

Available at: Amazon and Boots

Nivea Creme has a rich and moisturizing formula that leaves dry skin soft and smooth for hours. But don’t expect anything more than that.

Rating: 3/5

Disclosure: the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Pat or Rub: Which Makes Skincare Products Work Better?

skincare pat rub

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Do you rub in or pat on your skincare products?

I’m a patter, but not for the reason you think. Clarins, Hada Labo and a dozen other brands want us to believe that patting your lotions and potions on helps them to penetrate our skin better. I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

The patting technique doesn’t enhance penetration (and neither does rubbing)

Our skin is a very underrated organ. We often think about how to prettify it, but rarely of what it does for us. Its outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, has a very important function. It forms a barrier between our body and the rest of the world.

This barrier is very difficult to penetrate. And that’s a very good thing. If getting through it were easy, pretty much anything we come in contact with would enter our bodies, and, worse, our insides would spill out!

When this barrier is broken (that may be due, for example, to severe dryness and irritation, strong acid peels, or laser vaporizations), our creams, but also bacteria, and other substances can more easily get inside our bodies. But this often causes irritations, infections, and other problems we’d rather not deal with.

There are also ways to get through a healthy skin barrier. Substances like propylene glycol and linalool can help other ingredients better penetrate into the skin. Applying creams to damp skin increases absorption by about 10% too. But to the stratum corneum, it doesn’t make any difference whether you rub in or pat on your creams. Either way, they seep in slowly, at the rate the stratum corneum allows them to.

skincare tips 30s

Why patting is really better than rubbing

Patting may not enhance penetration, but it can help you age better. How? Rubbing too vigorously stretches skin, causing the breakdown of elastin and collagen. This, in turn, promotes sagging.

It’s true, though, that a gentle massage, using circular motions, can be beneficial for skin too. It help increase blood flow, which gives your skin a pretty natural glow. But there’s an exception. If you have rosacea or overly red skin you should avoid rubbing. It can aggravate the condition.

Patting is also a better way to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen is not skincare. It is not meant to be absorbed. To work properly, it needs to sit on top of the skin and form a protective layer against UV rays. Rubbing gets in the way of that. A 2006 study has shown that rubbing sunscreen in vigorously can affect the formation of this even layer, leaving tiny holes that are impossible to detect with the naked eye but allow UV rays to get through and damage skin.

The bottom line

Neither rubbing nor patting enhance the penetration of your lotions and potions. But patting is gentler on the skin, and, unlike rubbing, doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen.

How do you apply your skincare products?