Avene Physiolift: An Anti-Aging Range Gentle Enough For Sensitive Skin

by Gio

avene ühysiolift range

I used to pride myself on having tough, resilient skin. It could put up with anything. Glycolic acid, retinol, vitamin C…. other folks had to take them slow, until their skin got used to them. Mine loved them from the start.

Well, the love affair is over.

My skin hasn’t been the same since I moved to London, and now winter is finally here, it’s become as dry as sandpaper, flakes often, and is much more sensitive. *sighs* But, hey, at least it’s not oily anymore. I guess there’s a silver lining in everything.

Anyway, when your skin is in such a mess, there’s only one brand to go to: Avene. The brand is famous for its gentle formulations that soothe and moisturize even the most sensitive of skin. Now, they’ve brought out an anti-aging line, Physiolift, that addresses the needs of mature skin without drying it out or irritating it. The secret? No, not the water (that’s marketing). The chemicals.*

Just take a look at the ingredient lists. They’re short. They barely feature a natural extract. And they’re full of chemicals, like silicones, we’re told are bad for us. So, why is Avene, a brand renowned for it sensitive-skin friendly products would use them? Cos, as strange as it may seem, mad-made ingredients are actually much gentler and safer. Here’s why:

  1. Plants are made up of tens of thousands of compounds, most of which are good and some of which are bad and can cause irritations (usually, these are their defense mechanisms against plant-eating animals). Synthetic ingredients, on the other hand, are made with only three or four compounds, so there’s a lot less chance they’ll cause irritations.
  2. Plants live all their lives outside and so, they can easily be contaminated with resins, pollen, and other stuff that can trigger an allergy or an irritation. Synthetic ingredients are made in a sterile lab, so they don’t contain anything that shouldn’t be there.

The Physiolift formulas are also pretty basic. Normally, I’d see that as a con. But, now my skin has become so sensitive, I see the point of a range that addresses the basic needs of skin, until it reaches a condition where it can, again, put up with stronger and beneficial ingredients, like vitamin C. That’s why my rating now is slightly higher than it would have been in the past.

Ok, after this long preamble, let’s take a look at the Physiolift range, shall we?

avene physiolift day smoothing emulsion

First up, the Physiolift Day Smoothing Emulsion. It’s the lightest moisturizer in the range. It has to be. It’s formulated for combination and oily skin types. My combo skin would have loved it once, but now it’s become dry and sensitive (thank you, London), I need something richer. If your skin still produces too much oil, you’ll like it. It sinks in really quickly and makes a great base for makeup.

The formula, though, is very simple. The only “wrinkle-fighter” present in high amount in the formula is dimethicone. And that works by filling in fine lines and wrinkles, so they look smaller. The other active ingredient is sodium hyaluronate, an humectant that can attract up to 100 times its weight in water. This way, it moisturizes skin without adding even more oil. The result? Softer, plumper, and younger-looking skin.

avene physiolift day smoothing cream

These dry days, my skin much prefers the Physiolift Day Smoothing Cream. This one has a basic formula too. It contains sodium hyaluronate to hydrate skin, too. But, this time, shea butter gives it a helping hand. Shea butter is one of my favourite ingredients. Very moisturizing, it creates a barrier on the skin that prevents moisture loss for at least 8 hours. It may have antioxidant properties, too, which is always a plus.

Like the Emulsion, the Day Cream contains dimethicone, too, but in a higher amount. As annoying as all that extra oil is, it makes oily skin age better and slowly. On the other hand, dry skin develops wrinkles sooner, so it needs more help in this department.

Basically, the Day Smoothing Cream does what any good moisturizer is supposed to: it hydrates skin, makes it softer and plumper, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Needless to say, the cream has a richer consistency, but absorbs quickly as well (not as quickly as the emulsion, obvoiusly!).

avene physiolift soothing regenerating night balm

The last facial moisturizer in the range, the Physiolift Smoothing Regenerating Night Balm has a lovely texture. A cross between a balm and a gel, it sinks in quickly, without leaving a greasy residue on your face, or your pillow.

It contains the usual suspects, too: sodium hyaluronate to plump up skin and dimethicone to fill in fine lines and wrinkles. But, the night cream, just like the rest of the night-time range, contains another goodie: retinal.

Also known as retinhaldeyde, retinal is a form of vitamin A that can be converted by the body into retinoic acid or retinol in just one simple step. Once that happens, retinal boosts the production of collagen and increases skin’s thickness and elasticity. It’s less effective than retinol, but also gentler, which is why it’s a much better choice for those with sensitive skin. It’s also a great starting point for those of you who want to try retinol but are too afraid to take the plunge.

Unlike the other two moisturizers, the Smoothing Regenerating Night Cream can really reduce wrinkles, not just their appearance. But, of course, it won’t do so overnight. It takes weeks to see a small improvement with retinol. With retinal, it takes even longer. But, keep at it. In the meantime, enjoy the short term effects of the balm: hydrated, smoother, and plumper skin.

avene physiolift eyes

There’s a moisturizer for the eyes too. Like the rest of the range, Physiolift Eyes is pretty basic. It contains the same active ingredients (including retinal), too, so I won’t repeat it all again. I’ll just tell you what it did for me.

The rich but not-greasy texture hydrates the dry patches under my eyes well, and fills in the small fine lines that are starting to appear at the corners of my eyes, so they look a lot less noticeable. In the long run, thanks to retinal, it may actually reduce them, too. All in all, a solid, if simple, eye cream for dry, mature skin.

avene physiolift precision wrinkle filler

The last product in the range, Physiolift Precision Wrinkle Filler is also the trickier to use. The thin, long tube looks like a syringe. It’s made this way because this cream is supposed to be applied only on those deep wrinkles around the nose and mouth, and forehead, not all over the face.

In theory, this packaging makes application more precise. In practice, it took me a couple of sessions to learn how to use it easily. To make the product come out, you have to twist, and then press, the bottom. I don’t think I need to say that you have to press when the syringe is pointed right onto the wrinkle, right? Well, actually, maybe I do, because there was that one time when the bathroom wall got a bigger dose of cream than my face. Ops!

Again, retinal, sodium hyaluronate, and dimethicone make wrinkles appear smaller, and hydrate skin too (which also helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines). If you need an extra dose of these goodies to smoothen your face, I think you would appreciate this targeted approach.

All the products are packaged in sleek white tubes that are hygienic and don’t spoil retinal (it doesn’t like light and air). Finally, a brand that gets it.

*I’m using the word “chemical” here to mean “synthetic”, “man-made”. I know that everything, including water, is a chemical.

Physiolift Day Smoothing Emulsion Ingredients:
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Isododecane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Polymethyl Methacrylate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Arachidyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Behenyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Mica, PVP, Silica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Tocopheryl Glucoside, Water.
Physiolift Day Smoothing Cream Ingredients:
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Bis-PEG-12 Dimethicone Beeswax, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ammonium Acryloyl Dimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Mica, PVP, Silica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopheryl Glucoside, Water, Xanthan Gum.
Physiolift Smoothing Regenerating Night Balm Ingredients:
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Isohexadecane, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, BHT, Ceteareth-33, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Methyldihydrojasmonate, PVP, Red 33 (CI 17200), Retinal, Sodium Hyaluronate, Water, Xanthan Gum.
Physiolift Eyes Ingredients:
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Glycerin, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, BHT, Caprylyl Glycol, Ceteareth-33, Disodium EDTA, Red 33 (CI 17200), Retinal, Sodium Dextran Sulfate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydrpxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Water, Xanthan Gum.
Physiolift Precision Wrinkle Filler Ingredients:
Avene Thermal Spring Water, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Tribehenin PEG-20 Esters, Sodium Polyacrylate, Behenyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Behenic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Mica, Red 33 (CI 17200), Retinal, Sclerotium Gum, Silica, Sodium Hyaluronate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Tocopheryl Acetate, Tribehenin, Water.


Pros: All the products are moisturizing, and leave skin softer and plumper; Thanks to silicones, they all minimize the appearance of wrinkles; All the textures sink quickly into the skin, without leaving a greasy residue behind; The night-time products also contain retinal, a gentler form of vitamin A that can reduce wrinkles; Hygienic packaging; None of the products irritated my skin or caused breakouts.

Cons: If you like your skincare loaded with antioxidants and powerful anti-agers, this line isn’t for you.

Summary: Avene Physiolift range gently addresses the needs of sensitive and mature skin without causing irritations. The products are pretty basic, but they all moisturize and plump skin, and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Price & Availability: Eyes £22.00, Emulsion £25.00, Day Cream £25.00, Night Balm £26.00 and Wrinkle Filler £29.00

Rating: Day range 3.5/5, Night time range, 4/5

PR Sample. Affiliate link.

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

Screenshot from 2017 04 30 11 51 35

Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.

Powered by ConvertKit



tirurit February 10, 2016 - 2:06 pm

On a similar note, there is a similar reason as to why synthetic drugs are more effective than natural extracts. If you take an aspirin you are taking a know amount of the active ingredient, something that you can never measure if you take a bark tea 😉

In any case, I am glad that you have found a range that suits your current conditions. What do you think has brought about this drastic change? The weather? The pollution?

Gio October 6, 2017 - 9:00 pm

Tirurit, definitely the weather! And I couldn’t agree more!

Alex September 30, 2017 - 8:59 pm

What age range is it suitable to?

Gio October 6, 2017 - 9:00 pm

Alex, I think anyone, from teenagers to the elderly, can use it.

Helen August 29, 2018 - 10:41 am

Hi Gio – how would you rate Avene with La Roche-Posay for rosacea prone skin?

Gio September 7, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Helen, most of their products are fine for rosacea skin. Just avoid anything with fragrance.

Linda January 21, 2019 - 10:46 pm

Hi Gio
In this article you say retinaldehyde is not as effective as retinol but I’ve read another one of your article that says retinaldehyde is more effective https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/does-retinaldehyde-provide-the-benefits-of-retinoids-without-the-side-effects/
Can you please clarify – very confuse.

Gio January 25, 2019 - 8:32 am

Linda, sorry for the confusion. This article is older than the retinaldehyde one. Back then, I hadn’t seen the new research I’m seeing now on retinaldehyde that shows it’s a much better alternative to retinol than we previously thought.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.