Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skinceuticals Refining Night Cream with 0.5% Pure Retinol

Since my terrible comedone outbreak last month, I've been adding retinol to my skincare regimen with the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5% Refining Night Cream. This product comes in a 30 ml/1 ounce aluminum bottle with a plastic pump, and retails for $46.00.

I always had perfect skin until my late teens, when I started to develop terrible congested skin and cystic acne. My mother took me to a dermatologist regarding my acne problems on my forehead and upper back, and he prescribed me Sulfalac (sulfur soap), Buf Puf (special loofah for the face), some Benzoyl Peroxide cream, Retin-A Micro, and some antibiotics. When I started out using this combination, my skin dried out within 3 days and became incredibly flaky and sensitive, so I had to stop. However, any over-the-counter products weren't strong enough, so I couldn't use those either. (I wish I knew the things I know now then, because maybe I wouldn't have broken out as much.)

Even though I didn't like my former experience with Retin-A Micro, which contains retinol, when I read up about this Skinceuticals cream, I definitely wanted to give retinol another shot. Retinol does have the side effect of drying out the skin, but the positives far outweigh the negatives--it helps stimulate cell regeneration and collagen production by penetrating deeply into the skin layers. This makes it great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Furthermore, it relieves congested skin (i.e. acne, blackheads, whiteheads), diminishes pore size, corrects blemishes, and reduces age spots and blotchiness.

Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 contains, like its name says, 0.5% pure retinol. It's different than other retinol products because it contains the most cutting edge formula to adjust to your skin's moisture levels and deliver the retinol accordingly. (The website says it also "stabilizes" to your skin--I'm not quite sure what that means, so if there are any dermatologists or med students out there, please tell me!) Skinceuticals also makes a Retinol 1.0 which contains 1% pure retinol, but since my skin dries out easily and has been really sensitive lately, I wanted to start out with this. I've read that you can build your skin's tolerance to retinol, so eventually I may start using the 1.0%.

I think everyone can benefit from adding retinol into their routine, but the frequency of use should definitely be varied depending on your skintype. Skinceuticals recommends people who've never used retinol products before to start by using twice a week. I think twice a week is fine for people who have oily skin. If you have dry to combination skin, I definitely suggest starting with once a week, and only applying to areas that are problematic or congested. If your skin does not start to dry out, then move up to twice a week...and slowly keep increasing the frequency. How often you want to use it is up to you; I personally do not like to use retinol daily because I want to keep my skin from becoming tolerant to it as long as possible. Also, retinol weakens your skin's outer skin layers and makes it more vulnerable to UV rays/sunlight, so I prefer to use it when I know I won't be going out into the sun the next day.

The directions say that you should apply this to cleansed and toned skin, and then wait at least 30 minutes before applying moisturizer over it. I think it's important to distinguish the difference between this product as opposed to a serum--serums work better with moisturizers over them, but I believe this works best alone. Adding a moisturizer on top would basically help protect and soothe your skin because of the retinol's drying effect. Also, this is called a "refining night cream," but don't let that mislead you, because it is not thick, or is it intended to moisturize, even though it contains some emollients. Because I have combination/normal skin, I normally don't apply moisturizer over this the occassions I do use it, but I don't notice any instant drying or burning sensation. For a product with such a high concentration in retinol, it really applies smoothly and nicely, almost as if it were a primer. One pump is good for my forehead, and a second pump is good for my nose, upper lip, and chin. If I want to apply it to my cheeks, I'll split the third pump evenly between them. That brings me to the one thing I dislike about this product; the pump feels fragile and is very hard to control, and I can't just dispense a little bit. But maybe my bottle is defective, I don't know.

Comparing the Skinceuticals 0.5% to Retin-A, the Skinceuticals goes on much more smoothly, and has a nice matte, silky finish, and becomes virtually indiscernable on my skin. I did not like the Retin-A because when it dried, it left these white flakey, grainy marks on my face as if my face had fallen into a pot of grinded rice bits. (Does that analogy make sense?) Not very attractive, especially for those of you with husbands/wives/etc. It also was way too drying in general. When I apply the Skinceuticals 0.5%, it sinks immediately into my skin, and I can see it actually shrinking my pores and flattening out my congested comedones. When I wake up in the morning, my skin looks calmer and more evened out. Also, Retin-A is a prescription retinol product, and Skinceuticals is over the counter.

Overall, this is a great corrective skincare product and I highly recommend it to anyone concerned about age prevention, pore size, blemishes, or acne! Don't be dissuaded by the price, because this will last you an extremely long time--a year or more, maybe.

Water, Cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane (and) Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone (and) Dimethiconol (and) Laureth-4 (and) Laureth-23, Hydrogenated Lecithin (and) Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) (and) Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (and) Ceramide 2 (and) Ceramide 3 (and) Phytosphingosine (and) Cholesterol, Hypericum Perforatum Extract (and) Propylene Glycol, Allyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer (and) Polysorbate 20 (and) Retinol (and) BHT, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dimethicone PEG-7 Isostearate, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide (and) C13-14 Isoparaffin (and) Laureth-7, Bisabolol, Rosa Canina Leaf Extract (and) Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract (and) Possiflora Incarnata Flower Extract (and) Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Leaf Extract (and) Citric Acid, Methylisothiazolinone, Tetrasodium EDTA.


fuzkittie said...

Very interesting.. I've been hearing a lot about how great retinol is! But I have very little understanding of it, so thanks for this post!

Tina { Luphia Loves... } said...

love these tips! thanks for sharing :)

ponds age miracle said...

Gorgeous so interesting i lie this product.


farah said...

does this makes u suffer from inital breakout?

Rachel said...

Farah: Yes, it contains retinol which chemically exfoliates the top layer of the skin, and when your skin is getting adjusted to it initially, you could break out. I didn't break out from it initially though, but my skin got dry and irritated. You can follow up with a thick moisturizer to prevent that.

Anonymous said...

This was so expensive, and the pump does not work at all! I FINALLY got it to spit out a minute amount after seriously 5-10 min. of constant pumping. the company is sending another, but honestly, my husband had to break off the pump top and I have to apply it by pulling out the 'wand' and putting a little on my fingers. I just try to keep the outer cap on it, so it won't dry out. I WOULD NEVER EVER BUY THIS PRODUCT AGAIN. THERE ARE OTHERS WITH THE 1% RETIN A, I AM SURE, THAT DON'T COST AS MUCH OR ARE AS IMPOSSIBLE TO USE!