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In Defense of Thermal Water Spray

To you, it’s fancy tap water. To me, well, it’s a lot of things.

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Three bottles of Avène Thermal Water
Avène Thermal Water (starts at $14)

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I first snagged a bottle of Avène’s Thermal Water (or Eau Thermale, as the bloggers who studied abroad in Paris more than a decade ago and still talk about it would say) from the freebie table at Vanity Fair when I was first starting out as an assistant’s assistant. I didn’t really care too much at the time that it was indeed just a bottle of fancy spring water (or that it cost $14 for the smallest size, ah!), but I cared that, unlike most of the luxe products I’d find in the office, I could actually afford to repurchase it after I ran out.

But after nearly two years, some actual skincare understanding, and the worn-off sheen of French anything, I’m totally aware of the fact that it looks like I’m drinking the overpriced, slightly rose-scented Kool-Aid. Even if I wasn’t, I’ve had enough people in my life — from my boyfriend to Twitter goblins — pop in to let me know that I’ve bought into a gimmicky, well-marketed equivalent to tap water. (At the very least, I know that’s not true: Tap water can cause a lot of problems for your face, including acne, rosacea, and induced inflammation.)

Sure, knowing that the only two ingredients listed on Avène’s popular spray bottle are spring water and nitrogen (lol) makes me cringe a little, but I still buy it. I keep one in my bag and another at my desk.

Aside from the obvious usage of a mid-day spritz, I use it in place of a toner (though you could use both, if you live by K-beauty’s more-is-more approach) to undo how stripped my face feels after cleansing. Unlike a toner, though, you can think of the thermal water spray like a lipstick or lip gloss — something you keep with you and reapply often.

It’s been clutch for my skin’s many tantrum-like phases, too. When my intense hormonal breakouts or my winter-induced dry patches cause my face to feel wildly itchy 24/7, the spray immediately soothes and calms my face. When my face turns bright red after a run or when it’s exposed after a peel, wax, or deep exfoliation, it dials back the flushing, calms irritation, and restores moisture back into my skin immediately.

I also use it as makeup remover when I run out of wipes and as a makeshift remedy for my (still post-summer) peeling skin; it was once a lifesaver that soothed my sister’s nasty sunburn, which made me feel like the Windex dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

All things considered, I stand behind spraying $14 spring water on my face even if all it does is offer a small luxury in my life. Or just because I feel like it. That feels like a good enough reason, doesn’t it?