Judy Johnson visits Eau Thermale Avene's centre in France, where sensitive skin is their speciality

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There is one brand that really helped me on my  sensitive skin journey and became a grand love affair, and that is Eau Thermale Avene . I rave about it so much that when I recently tweeted to announce I was off on a trip to the south of France to see the company's base for myself, a friend replied that she couldn't think of anywhere better for me to be in my element; Avene and I were meant for each other.

Avene is a French brand which is based around the science of the local spring water. Discovered way back in 1736 when, the story goes, a horse with a severe skin condition was found to be healed after plenty of dips in the water, the thermal spring in the small village is now renowned for its  skin-soothing properties. Without trying the products, it's easy to be cynical - I mean really, how effective can water be at doing anything for our skin, which can't absorb it? However on closer inspection, the science speaks for itself.

As anyone who lives in a city will know, hard water can leave skin feeling parched and this is all down to the higher mineral content. The magic of Avene's spring water however is that it is very low in minerals, has a neutral pH and contains plenty of silica which is known to help in the healing of scars and for forming a barrier on the skin's surface. The ratio of calcium to magnesium is two to one; the same as our skin, something which experts believe may explain its calming properties. Recognised as far back as 1874 as water that is of 'public interest', it has since been proven to soothe even the sorest of skin; from eczema to psoriasis and everything in between.

Sadly, we can't all reside in the small quaint village of Avene, where locals wander up to the centre regularly to fill up water bottles with the notorious spring (a sure recommendation if ever there was one). Nor can we keep staying for one of their three week programmes in which your body is brought back to its best with the help of the Avene treatments - baths, showers, cold cream wraps - it's all part of the experience for visitors to the hydrotherapy centre where skin is gently coaxed back into good condition. But the products, thankfully, are as good as the real thing. All the formulation and packaging is done on site, where the water is bottled at the source; therefore the moment you start to use the products is the first time it sees daylight for 40 years, after its long journey through the Cévennes Mountains right through to the manufacturing plant.

The Avene centre

The product range is impressive - it easily includes everything you'd need for a good skincare regime and covers all skin types so no one is left out. There are some standouts such as the Micellar Lotion and the serum, and although you may not necessarily feel that 'wow' factor with a lot of the range, when your days are dominated by rashes, irritation, eczema or extreme dryness, quite frankly you are wowed by the simple things in life: cleansers, moisturisers and even hyperpigmentation treatments that soothe the skin as well as performing a function. Avene is my skincare safety net, and in my search for beauty regime perfection it has become The One; anything else is but a fling.