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Product Review: Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30

Peter Thomas Roth Power Fusion SPF 30Peter Thomas Roth makes some great skin care products, including the Power K eye cream.  I love that because vitamin K is proven to reduce dark circles when combined with a cream containing vitamin A.  Unfortunately, I'm just not a huge fan of the new Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30 ($67.00, Amazon.com). The truth of the matter is, I can't get used to the idea that retinol should be used during the day.  It is well-established in the dermatological community that retinoids increase your sensitivity to the sun, with everyone from Dr. Perricone to the good folks at LIVESTRONG and MedScape agreeing retinol increases photosensitivity.  This is because retinoids slough off the top layer of skin, increasing its reflective surface area.  If this doesn't make sense to you at first, think of how tanning oil works - more reflection! (Science Update, 2010). Although a study in Clinics in Dermatology found over-the-counter retinol is 20 times weaker than prescription retinoids (e.g., tretinoin), retinol is still enough of a concern where I will not use it during the day.  And while Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30 does contain its own sunscreen, I'm a little leery of using it.

Keep In Mind the Dermatological Community Says Retinyl Palmitate+Sunscreen is Safe

English: A ball-and-stick model of retinyl pal...
Still, despite my own personal aversion to using retinol during the day, I should affirm that there's really no scientific reason not to do so when pared with sunscreen. Some people still believe that one form of retinoids - retinyl palmitate - is unsafe for use in sunscreens.  This is due to reports in 2010 that the retinyl palmitate in sunscreens could potentially cause skin tumors.  However, this has since been proved false.   The report was based upon a single study in which a high concentration of retinyl palmitate was used as the only ingredient, applied to mouse skin, and irradiated with light. The experimental design was flawed, as Dr. Steven Q. Wang, M.D. Ph.D., director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center later explained, “Despite the concerns raised by these non-human studies, retinyl palmitate operates within the skin as only one component of a complex antioxidant network. In these non-human studies, retinyl palmitate was the only compound studied, making the biological relevance of these findings to humans unclear.”
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02:  A woman reads...
Retinyl palmitate is also about ten times weaker than retinol, which is in turn 20 times weaker than prescription tretinoin (Clinics in Dermatology, 2001).  So I want to affirm:  while I'm averse to using daytime creams with retinoids of any kind, the dermatological community says they're safe, so long as they are pared with sunscreen.

Bottom Line

I personally am not a fan of Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30 because I feel retinoids are best reserved for night.  That said, the dermatological community has affirmed retinoids are safe for the daytime when pared with sunscreen, as this cream is.  It is also a fairly concentrated source of retinol (my best guess is around 0.5%), and you will generate results from it over time.  So, for once in my life, this bit of a negative review is based upon personal preference. What about you?  Will you apply retinoids during the day? Ingredients in Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30:  Water, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myrsitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Squalane, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, Bentonite, Cetearyl Glycoside, Titanium Dioxide, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Polyacrylate, Xanthan Gum, BHT, Picea Excelsa Wood Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Borate, Sodium Hydroxide, Panthenol, Arginine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycine, Copper Tripeptide, Sorbitol, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Propyl Gallate, Disodium EDTA, Ascorbic Acid.
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Date: May 31 2012 at 11:32 AM
  1. jeff
    May 31 2012 at 12:18 PM

    They make a night time retinol product but it comes in a botte with a dropper, Paula Begoun says its a good prodcut but wont the packagin render the retinol unstsabe?

  2. Lynn
    June 1 2012 at 7:20 AM

    Oh perfect timing. i was looking to buy some PTR. now i know which to avoid

  3. Nicki
    June 1 2012 at 7:59 AM

    @Jeff - The Retinol Fusion PM is a really great product overall. The only thing is, yes, light and air do make retinol unstable. Great call on your point. I personally only use retinol from an airtight pump! I'm hoping PTR starts to make Retinol Fusion PM in single-dose vials or pumps. Hope this helps!

  4. Nicki
    June 1 2012 at 8:01 AM

    @Lynn - haha, Glad you liked the post. It's not that this product is bad, it's just that I personally wouldn't use retinol during the day because of the increase in photosensitivity. Plus, antioxidants like vitamins C and E have been shown to boost the power of sunscreen when they are applied underneath sunscreen - and when 80-90% of the visible signs of aging are attributed to sun damage, why not get that extra boost? That said, I do love a lot of PTR products. Just not this one.

  5. jeff
    July 5 2012 at 5:44 PM

    as an aside, i wanted PTR laser resurfacer but in the ingredients it contrains "oxygen" pfluro carbon (spelling?), why would anyone want O2 in a skin care is beyond me, since we want anti-oxidants!

  6. @Nicki - I was under the impression that the retinol in the PTR PM serum were micro encapsulated with polysorbate20. Can you please tell me your opinion on whether or not the packaging must be airtight with encapsulated retinoids? Thanks!!
    August 26 2012 at 10:55 AM

    @Nicki - I was under the impression that the retinol in the PTR PM serum was micro encapsulated with polysorbate20. Can you please tell me your opinion on whether or not the packaging must be airtight with encapsulated retinoids? Thanks!!

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