My Skin Saviour: Avene Skin Recovery Cream

I have never written a post on a moisturiser before. Seriously, have a look, I’ll wait. ‘What kind of skincare blogger doesn’t write about moisturisers?’ I hear you ask…

Well, one with very, very sensitive skin, is the answer. I had absolutely rubbish skin for the longest time. Spots, redness and dry patches were the norm for most of my life. It didn’t matter how expensive or gentle my moisturiser was. Two years ago I discovered rosehip oil and while this was a revelation in lots of ways, it still wasn’t the perfect moisturiser because it blocked my pores, so I was still (cautiously) on the lookout for my holy grail. I was definitely dubious when I tried Avene’s Skin Recovery Cream, but as their XeraCalm oil sorted my eczema out in no time at all, I decided to trust them. I have been using Avene’s Skin Recovery Cream and Rich Skin Recovery Cream for a year now so I thought it was time to talk about them…

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These moisturisers saved my skin. I started with Skin Recovery Cream as I had lots of blemishes and wanted something light. From the first day, I could see that this cream was different. It sank into my skin immediately, leaving it comfortable and hydrated without any oily residue (or tightness, my skin can go either way). Make-up sat perfectly on it, and within a week I could see the redness and irritation I’d grown so used to was disappearing. I honestly never thought I would be able to find a moisturiser that could do this for my skin. It felt incredible.

After a while, my skin started to get a bit drier, which always happens to me in the winter. Instead of having to panic about needing to change my moisturiser, I simply switched to the Rich version. With shea butter added to the formula, it nourished my skin but still absorbed immediately, leaving a perfect base for make-up.

So what is it about these creams that make them so perfect for my skin, when NOTHING else worked? I think it’s to do with the fact that there are no preservatives in the formula. This is pretty much unique for a cream – even E45 and other aqueous creams contain preservatives, even if they say they don’t. Brands get around this by using ingredients called ‘incidental preservatives’ which are registered as performing a different function (in the EU every cosmetic ingredient has to be registered with a specific use), but also have a microbial effect. Why is this bad for the skin? Well, it doesn’t matter why you’re applying an anti-bacterial agent to your skin, it still has the effect of killing bacteria. And for sensitive skin, your microflora levels can really make a difference between hot, irritated, red skin, and calm, soft smooth skin. I’ve tried so many moistuirsers over the years that I really think this must be the answer.

Of course, if brands could make a formula without preservatives just like that, everyone would be doing it. Avene have to be very clever about how they protect this formula, and they do it with the packaging. This cap is called a DEFI cap, and it prevents any air or contaminants from getting into the tube when you squeeze the product out. You see the circle in the middle, with the smaller circle inside it? When you squeeze the tube it comes up, and the product comes out around the smaller circle.

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Through a series of valves, this cap ensures that the product inside doesn’t come into contact with the air, so there’s no need to preserve it. It a bit weird to use to begin with as you actually have to concentrate on squeezing it, (the valve is pretty stiff) but that is a very small price to pay for smooth, calm, clear skin.

These creams have transformed my skin, and I am so happy I found them. They are my HG product and the fact that I can go make-up free now because my skin is so calm has genuinely changed my life. Get them from Look Fantastic; here’s the original version, and here’s the rich version.

Do you have sensitive skin? What do you find works for you?

Review: Niki’s Organic Original Balm

First things first, I want to say thank you to anyone that shared my post about Kew Gardens, I was blown away by the amount of interest, and I will be talking more about it soon.

I bought this little pot of Niki’s Organic Original Balm almost a year ago, from an exhibition at a health show. I kind of forgot about it and it just ended up in a nondescript box of things in my bathroom.

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I knew it had loads of uses, but having so many other products to use I never had a reason to get it out. Until I actually got it out, and tried it on a spot that was taking ages to heal. And wow, is it amazing! I’ve become obsessed with it, and have been putting it on all my ‘healing’ blemishes. I’m of the opinion that spots that are coming to a head need completely different treatment to ones that have already done their damage, and are calming down. So, Weleda Aknedoron when they’re red and angry, Niki’s Organic Original Balm when they’re healing.

I can really see the difference in healing since I’ve been using it – my skin is prone to hormonal outbreaks so I tend to spend one half of the month trying to control spots and the next half dealing with the aftermath. Now, I literally have nothing apart from a few marks that haven’t completely gone away yet (I’m still not showing you my face without makeup though). I scoop a bit out with a clean nail, and just pop it on the problem area in the evening after I’ve washed and moisturised. It goes on so smoothly, and feels lovely when it’s on!

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The balm smells absolutely beautiful – and no, there isn’t any lavender in there but I have a whole bunch of dried buds which I needed to use for something. The smell is zingy and refreshing, and comes from lemon tea tree which I’ve never heard of before, but I like it very much. The balm itself is one of those gorgeous mixtures that blemishes and skin problems don’t stand a chance against:

Calendula oil – gentle healing, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory and protective

Hypericum – healing and antibiotic

Tea tree – antibacterial

Rosemary – stimulates microcirculation to enhance healing

Beeswax – antibacterial, healing and protective

Sunflower oil – gentle carrier oil, nourishing, protective, non-comedogenic

Vitamin E – good for scarring

Lemon Tea Tree – yummy scent

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I’m so impressed with Niki’s Organic Original Balm, and really pleased I came across it when I was last at home! Make sure you check out the list of uses on the website, because it’s really versatile. At £4.99 for a 10ml pot, I think it’s amazing value because you don’t need to use much at all, and it’s really effective. You’ll also be supporting a handmade product which is really important – there are some absolute gems out there in the independent market. This is unquestionably one of them.