Two days ago, I wrote a blog post about three great retinol creams, including Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 ($41.95, SkincareRx.com). Unfortunately, there was an error on Amazon.com with the ingredients of Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5, and I erroneously posted that there was “retinyl palmitate” rather than retinol in the product. With that said, I apologize to anyone who read the original post. Now let’s get a real review of Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5!
Why 0.5% retinol? Is this a high concentration?
Relatively speaking, yes. Companies generally do not report the amount of retinol in their products. However, 0.5% and 1.0%, the latter being the concentration found in Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 ($47.99, SkincareRx.com), is high for an anti-aging retinol product, and the highest available in the U.S. until recently. One four-week treatment, Matis Le Concentre Caviar Retinol ($244.00, Beauty.com) was reported in this June 10, 2007 article in Britain’s Sunday Mirror to contain an unprecedented 10% retinol. A second product available now in the U.S., Emergin-C Multi-Vitamin Retinol Serum ($79.00, Amazon.com) was reported in the Mirror to contain 4% retinol.
Matis Caviar Retinol contains 10% retinol, the highest on the market. Unfortunately, it may be too harsh.
Unfortunately, however, with retinol, more, especially over 1.0%, may not be better. According to Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun, even 1.0% retinol is often associated with “effects that are similar to, but less pronounced than, those caused by topical tretinoin, including redness, flaking/peeling, and possibly stinging.” These effects should be reduced if you start using retinol every 2-3 days for a few weeks. However, in some cases, they do not dissipate, and if this is the case, then retinol at the level you are trying is not right for your skin. Ask your dermatologist if you have concerns about whether or not retinol is right for you, and at what level.
How do over-the-counter retinol creams compare to prescription tretinoin?
In general, retinol is considered to be about 20 times less potent than retinoic acid, and thus higher concentrations of retinol need to be used to achieve similar efficacy to all-trans retinoic acid (i.e., 0.04% or 0.07% versus 0.025%). This is because, according to Dr. Leslie Baumann, chief of the Department of Cosmetic Dermatology at the University of Miami, retinol is classified as a cosmetic rather than a drug because it must first be converted to retinaldehyde, and then all-trans retinoic acid within the skin in order to be effective.
Is Skinceuticals 0.5 a Good Option?
Yes, it is one of the best over-the-counter retinol creams out there, with a relatively high concentration of retinol, ceramides and other emollients to moisturize, and a small concentration of soothing chamomile and bisabolol. Unfortunately, the product also contains a fairly high concentration of Hypericum Perforatum Extract (St. John’s Wort), which can make the skin sensitive to the sun, according to the British Journal of Dermatology. Add this in with the fact that retinol makes your skin photosensitive (a well-established fact), and this makes Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 a night cream only. In addition, you must make sure you wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning when using this or any other retinol product.
Why so much talk about retinol?
Retinoids are amongst dermatologists’ favorite ingredients. According to research by Fisher et. al cited by Dr. Leslie Baumann, retinoids are effective in preventing and treating the collagen loss caused by photodamage. In addition, Fisher et. al demonstrated that application of tretinoin inhibits the induction of matrix metalloproteinase genes (more here), which are in part responsible for collagen degradation. Retinoids also increase cell turnover and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. According to Dr. Ranella Hirsch, president-elect of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons in Allure: “We have beautiful, profound data that shows if you use it for 20 years, you’re going to look a lot better than someone who doesn’t.”
Overall product review: a 9/10
A great night cream with retinol! If your skin can handle it, using Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 provides even more retinol. My only dislike of the product is that it contains photosensitizing St. John’s Wort. At any rate, if used at night in conjunction with sunscreen during the day, it is one of the best sources of retinol out there. Happy shopping!
Ingredients in Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 (courtesy SkincareRx.com)
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.
- Above: The mechanism of action of retinoids. Source: Nature. Editor's Note: There is an updated version of this post on FutureDerm.com, available on June 3, 2011. Retinoids are one of the most effective ingredients in skin care products today, running the gamut from increasing collagen production to decreasing the appearance of wrinkles. Although this 2001…
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