A few years ago—in the "before times"—I was strolling through a Parisian pharmacy, and grabbed myself a bottle of Avène’s best-selling cleanser: Cleanance Gel ($21).Though I have a dry skin type, I was also dealing with some annoying hormonal acne, and needed something to help quell the breakouts without dehydrating my already struggling complexion.
This, my friends, was the antidote. Cleanance is a best-seller (and a "French Girl" medicine cabinet must-have) for a reason. This stuff works, and it works well. And as it turns out, it’s a dermatologist favorite, too.
Board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD says Cleanance Gel is “a fantastic option for those with sensitive or allergic skin that is still prone to breakouts.” She also points out that this isn’t just for your face (gasp!)—it works for body acne too.
“I love that this cleanser is safe enough for use on both the face and body,” says Dr. Gohara. “It’s gentle enough that it won’t irritate sensitive skin, yet is still able to hold its own in the acne-fighting department. Avène Thermal Spring Water soothes, softens, and calms the skin thanks to its unique mineral and biological properties,” she says.
That spring water packs a punch. Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD shares that this French-sourced miracle water—alongside zinc gluconate—“helps to soothe the skin.” There are evidently 150 clinical studies on Avène’s thermal spring water, which comes from a town called (surprise) Avène, in the south of France.
And that zinc gluconate is nothing to sleep on, either. While it can assuage “angry, inflamed skin,” thanks to its calming properties, it can also “inhibit the production of excess sebum,” says Dr. Gohara.
Dr. King finds this to be a rock-solid hormonal acne cleanser for those with dry skin because “it contains gentle surfactants as well as soothing ingredients, so it effectively cleanses and is also soothing to the skin.” On the list of those surfactants you’ll find a different zinc—zinc coceth sulphate. This ingredient, Dr. King says, “effectively cleanses without stripping the skin.”
And last but not least, the final standout ingredient that makes this a wonder-cleanser: “A milk thistle extract helps to prevent the formation of comedones,” says Dr. King. Comedones, FYI, are blackheads and whiteheads (which is why you tend to look for ‘non-comedogenic’ products… it means it won’t create more comedones).
Dr. Gohara corroborates this. “Comedoclastin, an ingredient proprietary to Avène, is truly the star of this formula,” she says. “It’s a stabilized extract derived from milk thistle that visibly reduces and limits the appearance of blemishes.”
My only regret after buying this and using it myself? I didn’t get the value-size bottle.
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