Vichy Laboratoires Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream 1.7 oz

A pot of Vichy Laboratoires Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream ($31) landed on my desk the other day. Vichy is a tres populaire pharmacy brand in France that has managed to convince consumers that Vichy mineral water has benefits for the skin if applied topically.

Vichy Laboratoires Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream is content with humble water” listed in its ingredients, but elsewhere says the moisturizer has Vichy Theramal Spa Water, "rich in rare minerals." Actually, most water (even tap) contains calcium and magnesium, but bottled mineral water has about four times as much. What seems to set Vichy water apart is the amount of sodium: one liter contains half of your daily sodium allowance (which is an awful lot when you stop to think about it). On the calcium and magnesium front though, Vichy is a bit of wash out with only tiny amounts compared with, say San Pellegrino.

Unconvinced by Vichy water, I wondered what else could set Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream apart – especially as its price point is at the upper end of what you might find in drugstore aisles. The answer is not much besides sodium hyaluronate. Which is a perfectly good hydrating active that works by drawing on and retaining moisture.  Vichy has supposedly encapsulated the sodium hyaluronate and the Vichy mineral water – although it doesn’t say in what or why other than encapsulation "improves diffusion."

The rest of the ingredients (with the exception of shea butter), that is to say the vast majority of the ingredients, are synthetic emollients, synthetic oils and and synthetic waxes, preservatives, cellulose (actually one that is typically used in nail polish, cellulose acetate butyrate) and acrylics.

At 30 bucks, Vichy Laboratoires Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream, is a shameful waste of money given that it has just one active, the sodium hyaluronate. And if it is that you are tempted by, you could look at Episilk Pure Hyaluronic Serum ($59.95 in the shop), which is water (probably tap, but really who cares?) and hyaluronic acid – and that’s it. Or for the price conscious, there’s Sheer Miracle’s Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($16.50 in the shop).

Ingredients in Vichy Laboratoires Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream: Water, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) (Shea Butter), Synthetic Wax, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Ammonium Polyacrylatedimethyl Tauramide (Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate), Stearyl Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Sodium Cocoyl Ethylenediamine PEG-15 Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, Disodium EDTA, Propylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Acrylates/C12 22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Fragrance