Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Skincare

If you’ve someone near and dear who doesn’t indulge in luxury products, give them a helping hand this holiday…

DERMALOGICA
OMG look at all those gift sets €17.15-79.70
DERMALOGICA group
This literally puts the truth in the phrase ‘there’s something for everyone’ — and something for every budget, too. The Clean Start is perfect for the tween/teen on your list — and not just the girls, my nephews are huge fans of the Soothing Clearing Booster and would use this stuff in a shot. Skin that is mature, dry, normal oily, frequent travellers who want to keep their body care routine on fleek, those love a good facial exfoliation, those who just love the brand and its best sellers — that’s all catered for here. The packaging is also refreshingly non-festivity specific, so those who don’t celebrate via the fat man in the red suit won’t be alienated.

 

CLARINS PARIS
Double Serum And Super Restorative Collection €69.50
CLARINS Double Serum gift
Here’s one of the many offerings from this brand, and all of them targeted to a variety of concerns, but this has to be my pick, thanks to the Double Serum. I went through that stuff for a shortcut and still think of it fondly. The addition of the Super Restorative Day, Night, and Eye cream only adds to the attraction. Plus! It all comes in an elegantly iridescent gold clutch — I adore that detail on the zip tab.

 

CAUDALÍE PARIS
Huile Divine/Divine Oil €8.70 Eau de Beauté/Beauty Elixir €12.60
CAUDALIE BAUBLES
May be the best beauty baubles ever: both are a terrific introduction to the natural, paraben-free French brand, they look adorbz, and they are really well-priced. This is Secret Santa sorted. The Divine Oil is suitable from top to toe and smells delicious; the Beauty Elixir works as a toner, a makeup setting lotion, and a general pick-you-up.

 

CLINIQUE
Clean Skin, Great Skin €89
CLINIQUE Clean Skin Great Skin
Bit of a splurge, but I am such a fan of the Sonic that I urge you to splash out on someone special. It’s not enough that you get their terrific skin-cleansing brush — you get a carry case too! I will not travel anywhere without this little beauty, and a case like that surely beats the pair of socks I’ve been using to protect in as we journey forth. The samples of the soap, DDM+ and Clarifying Lotion pretty much set your dearly beloved up for a kickin’ start to the new year.

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Two Micellar Waters That Have Changed My Mind: Eau Thermale Avène and Bioderma

Not in that order, but still. I did not take a seat on the micellar water bandwagon, due to having tried many and finding them all to be useless. About 100 cotton pads later and maybe my mascara and eyeliner was mostly off; several more were required to remove the foundation, leaving behind a nasty stickiness.

Micellar water is, funnily enough, made of micelles, which are molecules made of oil that are suspended in water that dissolve (or are meant to dissolve) make-up, grime, and whatever else is on your face, on contact. Or, on repeated contact, as far as I was concerned. I wanted very much for this to work, though, as they are chemical-free and less harsh on the skin, but found that most were only good for cleaning my make up brushes {h/t letzmakeupblog.com}.

And then I got two samples of two different brands — both French, though, so that might be food for thought — and one changed my mind rather a lot, and the other changed it entirely.
EAU DE AVENE micellar
I love the Cleanance range from Eau Thermale Avène even though I don’t really need it. It’s geared towards oily skin, and mine hasn’t been since I was thirteen, but there is something about its, well, cleanness that appeals. I went through their toner for a shortcut, and I’m not a toning kinda gal, and they have a soapless cleanser that looks appealing — so I reckoned if I was going to give a micellar a second chance, it would be this one.

It’s good! It’s light and closer to water than any of the others that I’d tried at this stage, and it left my skin feeling far less tacky than previously. I liked it well enough for taking off the dreaded mascara/eye liner combo, and at €20.99 for 400mls, that seems like a good deal to me. This one does not get put on foundation brush detail for sure.

BIODERMA micellarHowever. When it comes to wiping off that make up and foundation in four-cotton-pads-or-less, the winner and reigning champion is Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution Sensitive Skin, designed for normal/dry/sensitive pelts. This is as good as those bi-phase concoctions that remove everything in one swipe, but leave behind an oily residue; this leaves nothing behind but clean, un-irritated skin. I honestly couldn’t believe how good it was until I used it again. At €14 for 250mls, it’s a big saving over some of the more expensive, less-effective waters {the above excluded, of course} and it’s got a permanent place on my hero list, not only of 2015, but of maybe ever.

Careful though! I availed of a two-for-one of the green version of this, the Sébium H2O Purifying Cleansing Micelle Solution, and while it is as good as regards the foundation and brow make up, it’s not so good on the eyes {and it may not be not meant to be…} This is the version for those who have oily skin, so I don’t know, maybe buy one of each if you are looking for a micellar water that removes eye make up too.

There’s a blue one, Hydrabio, which sounds like a Harry Potter Spell: this is for dehydrated, sensitive skins. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect it’s just as good as the other two in terms of general, gentle, thorough cleansing.

Eh, yep, really did love this.

BIODERM ALL GONE

BONUS LAVA LAMP IN SHOT

All this talk about cleanliness is making my face itch. Gotta go give it a good swipe now!

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BIODERMA GIFTThis fab gift pouch from Bioderma contains BB Cream, some of the magical micellar water, shower gel, and face cream, for €17.50. Available at all good pharmacies, or online at mccabespharmacy.com.

Laisson Entrer Le Soleil: Suncream, A Theme

I got a truck load — or a lorry load, depending on which national lexicon I am writing with — of sunscreen this year, and it is actually even more necessary than ever to have been testing it out. I’ve only had time to write about my faves because we’re having a rainy patch — a brief rainy patch before the sun starts splitting the stones once more — which it has been, off and on all day, but my weather app is looking a bit ominous towards the end of the week.

I found, in the course of my investigations that I had a penchant, if you will, for French brands. Alors: mes pensées.

NUXE PARIS Sun: Milky Spray for Face and Body 20SPF {€19.95} and Delicious Cream for Face {€19.95} smells abso spectac, feels like super posh product, won’t break the bank, and works. Did I say it smells good? It smells great, floral without being too heady, and completely like you are on holiday, even if you are only walking down the seafront, or hanging out in the park. The milky spray is really milky, but the spray is focused, so it doesn’t make a mess. Well, not unless you’re trying to spray yourself from all sides.

I adore the convenience of a sunstick, especially when — wait for it — I am out on the horses, but find that many of them are so hard in texture (the sticks, not the horses) that what they are imparting in protection from wrinkles from the sun, they are causing in pulling my skin all over the place. PAYOT‘s Sun Sensi Protective Anti-aging Stick, SPF 50 {€24.20} goes on like butter, and absorbs like… like something super absorbent. This is terrific for lashing on to your face at the last minute, and also for quick touch-ups, espesh on the nose.

LES SUNCREAMS 2014

 

GARNIER Ambre Solaire Dry Mist Medium SPF 20 Ultra-Light Dry Protection Mist {€24.20} is a true mist. It actually lands on your skin and soaks right up, so you can skip the middle-hand and just let it dry. Of course, in the beginning, I was so used to having to rub it in that I did, and it wasn’t necessary at all. This is perfect for when you’re out-of-doors and just want to get the application over with, or whilst indoors, when you just want to get the application over with. You could even, ahem, spray this on in your front room because you almost forgot, and it won’t ruin your furniture.

This falls into the make up category for me — it says BB on the tube, and it’s actually an excellent hybrid. VICHY LABORATOIRES V Capital Soleil SPF 50 BB Tinted Dry Touch Face Fluid {€16.50} is instantly tanning + SPFing, so if you’re lounging by the pool drinking cocktails, this will make you look amazing with zero effort. I find it too shiny for the office, if that makes any sense to you. I only wear it when I’m going to be mainly outside, reflecting the sun, looking stupidly healthy. It isn’t all that fluid — it really feels exactly like a BB, which is grand — but I love it anyway.

Here’s to having more reason to use them!

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Next up: my go-to sporty sunscreen…

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I Used It All Up: Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Toner

… in fairness, this is in all likelihood the third one I’ve used up, if not the fourth. I heart this stuff.
CLEANANCE ALL GONE
I went and double-checked myself, but for sure, this is the first time I’ve posted about having Used This All Up. The Cleanance range is designed for blemish prone, oily skin, which I can’t say that my skin is at all, but I loved the purely clean feeling I got after using this every evening. It’s bi-phase — shake it up! — and it feels like a little breath of fresh air  post-cleanse/pre-night cream or oil.

This is great for keeping your pores from enlarging, and mattifying your complexion. It’s also a two-times-a-day job, if you choose, but I can’t imagine how quickly I’d go through this had I done so. Sigh.

Here’s something new, that I’ll probs go through for a shortcut:
AVENE XERA CALM
XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil can be used all over the body, and it’s terrific if you’ve got dermatitis or eczema. Again, I’ve got neither, but I love a good oil, as it soothes and manages to get sebum production under control. Which seems counter-intuitive, but it works. And this isn’t all that oily, it feels very much like a gel, if oil makes you nervous.

The new line includes a balm and a cream; all of the products are paraben free, and suitable for children and infants, too. And of course, Avène spring water is a primary ingredient, and there’s more info about that here.

Wow, I really feel sad about that toner. Off to the chemists I go!

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Cleanance Toner: 200mls, €15
XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil: 400mls, €16.50

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Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Year of Disposable Knickers

I was extremely fortunate last year, and enjoyed spa experiences up and down the country. I think the only corners I didn’t get to visit were down in Kerry and up in Donegal. Well, okay, and the very bottom in Cork, and maybe there is someplace in up in Antrim that would like my kind attention to their matters of mind, body, and spirit.

Not bein’ smart: it really is beneficial to all three to go and get some class of treatment somewhere. I wrote this in a burst of gratitude and guilt, and it still holds true. Self-care is important, and under the below circumstances, it ain’t cheap. The thing that is good though is that those local to such places might like to join the mailing lists of such posh spas — you never know what sort of deals are going down. That will cost you nothing…

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REVAS SPA fitzpatricks
I went to REVAS SPA in Fitzpatrick’s Woodlands Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick, less than a month after I’d arrived back home after my dad passed away. Since his mum was from Limerick City, I am not discounting his hand in this gig, and indeed in all the spa treats I got this year. This came up somewhat last minute; lots of internet organisation ensued, as I was going to have to get the bus to the train to the bus to a taxi to get there. Would it all be worth it in the end?

It would, even with the usual but-the-website-said unreliability of information on our wee rock. I had expected to leg it off the train for the bus, because that’s-what-the-website-said {is Bus Eireann’s the worst website in the world? I think so!}, but yeah, no. I did have enough time, though, to go light a candle for my dad in his mother’s parish church, which, given time, space, generations, and an ocean, was kind of like a miracle.

My treatment at Fitzpatrick’s was kind of like a miracle, too, mainly when it was over: I got tucked into a daybed, wrapped in fleece, given fruit and a healthy beverage, and left to lay there. I would still be lying there if I had my way. It felt as relaxing and decadent as anything I’d ever done, swathed in warmth and feeling entirely relaxed. I had the Essence of Fiji treatment, which involved full body exfoliation, massage, and a facial. Prior to that, I enjoyed the freedom of the Thermal Suite, which, to my mind, is as important as anything that is to transpire in the treatment rooms.

I felt that their suite, while well-appointed, was a little down-at-heel and in need some sprucing up — and then I found the mahoosive outdoor hot tub, and much was forgiven.

I will also say that the spa is a significant distance from the main body of the hotel, which is something of a buzz kill. Otherwise, everything else was fab, from the room to the food to the service. Also, having been able to drop the name of a dear pal in Dublin who is originally from the locality — well, that didn’t hurt. Heart U Éire!

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SPA SALVEO knockranny
Speaking of my ancestry. My great-gran on my dad’s side is from the Ballyhaunis area, and the invitation to spend a couple of days at Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, to avail of their Wellness and Radiance Ritual also seemed eerily apt. All I remember is that they use Kerstin Florian products, that the massage got down into the marrow of my bones, and that I saw God {She’s gorgeous.}

Well, okay, that’s not all: SPA SALVEO has garnered many awards lo these many years, and it’s easy to see why. The thermal suite is compact but complete; the pool is a decent length for getting your laps in; there’s a jacuzzi type set-up in a corner of the pool that is seriously strong and feels great; the staff and practitioners are welcoming and well able to deliver an unforgettable experience.

The hotel itself is enormous. When I was heading to my room, it felt a bit like The Shining, with its seemingly endless hallways. The room itself had more furniture in it than I would sit on in a week, much less two days, and the bathroom was stunning. I love a good bathroom.

As well, the food and service was spectacular. This was a large gathering of beauty journos, and it was utterly the craic. The train back to Dublin was a hungover post-party conveyance, with the majority of carriages filled with sore-headed folk returning after a weekend of debauchery in da Wesht. Couldn’t have asked for a better crowd with which to travel.

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MUCKROSS PARK cloisters
When I was designer for lady magazines, I would routinely do layouts for spa awards, and inevitably would be working with the photo above, and would inevitably yearn to be there. CLOISTERS SPA in Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney is another one of those multi-award winning venues, and I wrote in full about it here. I just transported myself back, through time and space, to their outdoor hot tub. *Sigh*

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SPIRIT ONE radisson
I interviewed Emer Gillen of Elemis here, about the tenth anniversary of Pro-Collagen Marine Cream’s launch, and about various other skincare related matters. There, too, find my review of the Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial in SPIRIT ONE SPA in the Radisson Blu Galway, which also involved the massage of shoulders, hands, and feet – which is genius, because I always find myself yearning for a facial when I get a massage, and a massage when I get a facial…

This was another big beauty journo bash and once again the craic was had. Did I mention that on many of these jaunts, I am able to bring a pal? A pal was brought along on this one, and we got breakfast brought to the room, and sat around and chatted for ages — for so many ages that the front desk actually rang to see if we realised we had to check out.

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FRANCE le petit dejeuner
Oh, bon jour! This was a big trip, to the South of France grace á EAU THERMALE d’AVÈNE, to the town of Avène-les-Bains, to avail of their therapeutic bath treatment and learn more about the spa, and the products in which the water figures largely.

I had met Bao-Tan Pham, head marketer for the spa’s brand, and have a Q&A with her here. She accompanied us on the junket that incorporated not only the benefits of the spa, but the indisputable delights of cold champagne on hot Mediterranean nights, chats, and gorgeous, delicious food.

The treatment itself is shown to greatly reduce the severity of skin conditions like psoriasis, and is beneficial to burn victims, too. I was the de facto translator, and I did très bien, thanks very much. The bath itself was only twenty minutes long, but oh! what a comprehensive twenty minutes it was. It was followed by a shower that sprayed at us with varying degrees of strength, and then we all got to lay down and sigh in room full of loungers that overlooked a typically Southern French landscape. Le bliss! My skin was so clean and clear that I felt the Avène products that I used, when we were done, were working even more effectively than I had known them to work previously.

One night, we went out to eat by the sea, and the man set fire to the fish:
FRANCE le grande motte

And on the last day, we sat and moaned on the rooftop terrace of a truly stylish and fabulous Montpellier boutique hotel:
FRANCE montpellier roof top pool

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I zipped down to Kilkenny, a town I adore, for an overnighter in the Lyrath Estate Hotel, to give OASIS SPA a look in. I was to try their Ginger Renewal, an 85 minute treatment incorporating {ha} scrubbing, rubbing, and wrapping.

Service was a little funky, as the hotel is in receivership, but the place itself is being kept in great nick. Below, as perfect an autumnal view out of a hotel window that it is possible to gaze upon:
LYRATH grounds
Now, back in my days of designing spa awards pages, I downloaded many a photo of hot stone massage, which looked like a stupid and useless treatment, because the stones were laid down the spine, and what, left there til they cooled?

Uh, the therapist actually rubs the hot stones all over your body? Am I the only person in the world not to know that? I was too zoned out to laugh at myself, at that stage, although I am sure I made a noise. I suppose they are used to it, but I’ll take this opportunity to apologise to all the aestheticians at whom I grunted and gurgled in 2013.

Anyway, look at this.
LYRATH outdoor jacuz
I clearly have a fetish for containers of water placed in the out-of-doors, because here’s another hot tub that opens out into the wild. This is maybe the best one because you don’t have to entirely leave the building, so less feeling vulnerable in your togs. It’s more like a pool than a tub, too, and you can drape yourself over the edge and ponder the shrubbery as bubbly water massages your bod, and cool air wafts over your face.

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So, fingers crossed for 2014, but also: do investigate deals and such, especially of the day spa variety. Leaving is always a buzz kill, but most of the relaxation areas were worth their weight in gold — espesh at Revas, and at Cloisters — and even when you have to drive away after, you’ll have given yourself a really fantastic treat.

Also: brides! Ask for this on your registry!

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Let’s Review! Eau Thermale Avène Tinted Compact 50 SPF

I reviewed this a year ago, and happily received a tweet from a pal last week, who was loving it as much as I did.

I felt it bore repeating, particularly as I was hosted by the actual spa itself only a week or so ago. I feel, even more strongly, the courage of my convictions, and will be posting about Avène-les-Bains in due course. Until then, read on.

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When reviewing things
It helps to read directions.
Call me crazy, right?

I love French stuff: the food, the wine, the lifestyle, the whole santé thing that they do. I’d never heard of the Avène line before, but have had the chance to try several of their products. I particularly got a kick out of the Thermal Spring Water, but haven’t really made it a big part of my regime. I was spritzing myself with the pressurised spray because I was bored during the snowpocalypse. It helped break up the day, and I suspect my skin, housebound as I was, enjoyed the refreshing sensation.

AVENE TINTED COMPACTWe don’t suffer from a lack of moist air in Ireland, so it doesn’t seem necessary to carry around a container of hydrotherapy in my handbag. Neither is the sun much of an issue, but SPF enthusiasts will insist that any sun is sun that is going to age us and give us skin cancer, so when the Eau Thermale Avéne Tinted Compact 50 SPF came through the letterbox, I thought, ‘Better safe than sorry.’

Of course, I didn’t bother reading exactly what it was so when I tried to use it as pressed powder, uh yeah, it didn’t work. Because it is foundation. Unaware, I swiped it over a face that was already sporting foundation. Crazy! I put it aside and forgot about it, scarred momentarily by my misuse of it.

Then one day I was running late, and I wanted to cut out the middle woman, meaning the time-consuming dispensing of foundation and then application of it onto my face > yeah, wha’? This makes sense to me, okay? Remind me to tell you about the time I used to take a cab four blocks to work — And so! So I picked this up, and using the pad that cunningly rests in the hinge between the top of the compact and the flip-up mirror, had a flawless face in three-ish swipes of product. I’ve never actually counted. I’m trying to reconstruct in my mind’s eye… okay… more like four-ish.

I brought this with my on my hols because it’s compact and effective and easy. It looks amazing, and it lasts and lasts. It’s also got a laundry list of excellent qualities — protection against UV radiation, free radicals, and sweat, as well as offering irritation reduction — but frankly the most important thing to me, at the end of the day, is that I don’t want to have to be touching up excessively throughout said day. This is a matte finish that combines the best effects of foundation and powder, and I am quite sad that I am near to using it up.

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€24.41/£15/$35

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B&B! Q&A: Taking the Waters of Eau Thermale Avène

BAO-TAMBao-Tan Pham trained as a Pharmacist in Paris and worked as a Dispensing Chemist before joining Eau Thermale Avène in a training role. She’s now heading up the Marketing Team to enhance the awareness of the brand. She talked to Bright & Beautyfull! about why the French lifestyle is so healthy, and about some of the line’s hero products, including my favourite new-to-me cleansing range, Cleanance.

Spa culture seems to be big in France, in that it seems like people naturally partake of the local waters. Why do you think this is? How is it beneficial to one’s health?
Doctors in France prescribe state-subsidised treatments and visits to a medical Hydrotherapy centres as a matter of course, so “taking the waters” is part of the accepted way of life.

The use of medicinal waters is one of the possible treatments a French Doctor can prescribe to help patients with different ailments. As long as the water has been clinically proven efficacious by the Academy of Medicine, the Hydrotherapy centre can provide treatment courses subsidised by the French NHS for an array of health conditions. These differ from spa treatments that are wellbeing orientated, as these aren’t reimbursed.

What’s more, each centre treats different ailments, for example, the Avène Hydrotherapy Centre helps those with skin concerns such as severe psoriasis or eczema. The Avène Thermal Spring Water has been clinically proven to have skin soothing and anti-irritating dermatological qualities, and has been treating patients since the 18th century.

I don’t often think about water as an ingredient in products! How does the Avène water make for more effective skincare?
Water is an essential ingredient for all creams, but not all have the same properties — and sometimes, it is just distilled water that is used. All products in the Avène range contain a high content of the spa’s naturally soothing water. Ideal for sensitive skin, it has a low mineral content and is also rich in silica, which leaves a protective veil on the skin’s surface. It is an added value to cleanse and moisturise with a product that will always care for your sensitive skin.

Even something as seemingly harmless as washing your face in hard water can aggravate skin, especially if it is sensitive, so it is important to use products that won’t irritate it. Skin sensitivity is a real issue for many people. In fact nearly half (49%) of all of Irish women believe they have sensitive skin.

The spray is a real hero product. How can we it to its best advantage? What are some of the ways that one can incorporate it into the daily routine?
The Avène Spring Water Spray sells over 20 million units, worldwide, each year! It is a real multi-tasking product, and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine with a quick spritz to tone and refresh the skin between cleansing and toning.

It can also be used to soothe a whole host of skin irritations such as sunburn, prickly heat and eczema, as well as to set make up, soothe skin post-shaving and is so gentle it can even be used on babies’ delicate skin for nappy rash. It is also suitable for use post-surgery or after laser treatments.

Last but not least, it provides welcome relief on a hot day – I recommend keeping it in the fridge for a more cooling effect!

I am also quite a fan of Cleanance. Could you talk about the products in that range, and who they may suit?
The Cleanance range is suitable for those with oily/ blemish-prone skin of all ages and consists of the Cleanance Soapless Gel Cleanser, a gentle foaming cleanser, Cleanance Toner to mattify, Cleanance Emulsion to lightly moisturise the skin, Cleanance K, which is a moisturiser that hydrates and exfoliates more severe acne — and the hero product of the range: TriAcnéal.

TriAcnéal is a targeted treatment product which has won awards for its unique and effective formulation.  It has a three-pronged approach to help banish blemishes: Efectiose is an anti-inflammatory, Retinaldehyde prevents thickening of the skin and thus unblocks pores and has an anti-bacterial action, and Glycolic acid has a surface peeling effect to smooth the skin.

CLEANANCE products

The most recent addition to the Cleanance range is the Cleanance Mask, a multi-tasking mask that tackles oily/ blemish-prone skin by absorbing excess oil, unclogging pores and exfoliating dead skin cells. Exfoliating particles in the mask eliminate impurities and dead skin cells, leaving your complexion feeling clear and smooth.

This range is perfect for the 40% of Irish women who suffer from acne. We conducted some research recently and found that over 60% of Irish women surveyed said that they did not expect to have acne as an adult; with 68% admitting that it makes them feel less confident, 55% particularly unattractive, 46% embarrassed and a third of those surveyed even said it made them feel depressed when they had a flare-up.

Hydration is such a byword in health and beauty. How will using Avène products help with keeping ourselves hydrated?
As well as drinking water, there are also other ways in which to keep skin healthy and hydrated. Regular use of the Avène Water Spray, particularly during flights and when the temperature rises, can be beneficial in keeping water levels in the skin topped up.

Keep skin well hydrated with a good moisturiser, such as Avène Hydrance Optimale UV, which as well as actively adding hydration, also acts as a barrier to reduce water loss from the skin’s surface.

In addition, you could apply our new Soothing Hydrating Serum beneath your daily moisturiser to give dull winter complexions an extra boost of hydration: the serum’s encapsulated Avène water releases extra hydration during the day.

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The Eau Thermale Avène range is available from selected large Boots stores, CH Chemists (Tralee), Doc Morris, Unicare and independent pharmacies. For all stockists call +44 (0)1582 820 165 or visit www.avene.ie.

Follow the brand on www.facebook.com/AveneSkincare

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