What are the Best and Worst Products from Rodan + Fields?

Reviews, Skin Care
Rodan + Fields

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kathy Fields for the FutureDerm blog in the past. As her candid interview mentions, she and her team are committed to providing the best in skin care — as well as amazing MLM-based career opportunities that offer profitability and flexibility for many women.

The brand of course emerges from the brains and expertise of Stanford-trained Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, both of whom boast experience founding and selling Proactiv®, in addition to their dermatology expertise.

However, as with any skin care company, some of the products are better than others. While their merit and experience has certainly generated many stellar products, there are as well a couple to avoid when shopping for the perfect summer skin:

Must-Buy: Rodan + Fields SOOTHE Mineral Sunscreen

Rodan + Fields

This sunscreen was covered in depth in a previous product review, and the verdict was very positive. Years later, this product continues to be one of the best sunscreens on the market, largely for the same reasons.

The presence of zinc oxide as the main active ingredient provides the maximum power-punch against UVA and UVB rays, while support is provided by the addition of titanium dioxide. And of course I love that; it is a little-known fact that zinc oxide is better than titanium oxide.  This is because UVA and UVB rays are separated into longer UVA (UV-aging) and shorter UVB (UV-burning), and zinc oxide blocks a significantly longer portion of UVA rays.  (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2005)

These compounds in conjunction with one another provide an extremely effective defense from UV rays. I’m all in on this one!

Must-Buy: Rodan + Fields AMP MD Microexfoliating Roller + AMP It Up Special

Rodan + Fields

Turns out the ingredients in the Rodan + Fields Anti-Age AMP MD TM system are pretty phenomenal.  The Rodan + Fields Anti-Age AMP MD system features both retinol and peptides in effective concentrations, while the roller helps these ingredients penetrate the skin, where they are needed to work.  Myristoyl tetrapeptide-8 is the product of the reaction between myristic acid and Tetrapeptide-8, while Myristoyl pentapeptide-8 is – you guessed it – the combination of myristic acid and pentapeptide-8.  Pentapeptides have been documented in a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, amongst other sources, to improve photoaged human skin.  Interestingly enough, I could not find any independent, peer-reviewed research to substantiate the efficacy of tetrapeptides on the skin, but companies that incorporate the ingredient into its products (i.e., Rodan + Fields, Philosophy) suggest that tetrapeptides may increase collagen production and firm the skin.

Must-Buy: Rodan + Fields REDEFINE Pore-Minimizing Toner

Rodan + Fields

The secret to Rodan + Fields REDEFINE Pore-Minimizing Toner? Lactobionic acid, a superstar AHA that is new and quite hard to find.

Lactobionic acid sets itself apart by being gentler and more effective than other AHAs.  Chemically, lactobionic acid has more oxygen-hydrogen groups (called “hydroxyl” groups) than other alpha hydroxy acids.  These additional hydroxyl groups make lactobionic acid more hydrating than glycolic acid (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2010).

In 2010, researchers in London, Serbia, and Slovenia compared the efficacy of 6% lactobionic acid and 6%glycolic acid in a gel and an emulsion.  Twenty-six volunteers applied one of the four different formulations twice daily for two weeks.  The lactobionic acid was better tolerated than glycolic acid in both forms, with similar results (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2010).  Considering glycolic acid is proven to refine fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate the skin, and renew collagen to firm skin over time, this is an exciting finding!

In addition, lactobionic acid also has been found to brighten the skin with time.  In the same study, it was noted that the melanin index was significantly reduced with lactobionic acid use.  However, the researchers noted this finding would need further investigation.

I definitely approve of regular use of Rodan + Fields REDEFINE Pore-Minimizing Toner, especially in the AM, when the ideal pH of the skin is low to prep the skin before applying a concentrated vitamin CE serum and sunscreen.

Pass By: Rodan + Fields UNBLEMISH Acne Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment

Rodan + Fields

Do you know how benzoyl peroxide works? Yeah, neither do I. And neither does anyone in the dermatological or scientific community, for that matter — at least not for certain. One benign theory is that benzoyl peroxide may work by reducing the skin’s population of the bacteria that causes acne, ultimately allowing the skin to dry and peel, which is said to improve the skin’s texture. Another more malignant theory is that benzoyl peroxide can cause oxidation within the follicle, causing the acne lesion to erupt. It is for this reason that I don’t recommend using benzoyl peroxide all over the face — who wants to use a pro-oxidant?

Benzoyl peroxide also shouldn’t be used together with retinol. Although the UNBLEMISH line does not contain retinol, retinol in general is a superb ingredient for anyone with acne, as it exfoliates the skin and advances desquamation. Despite rumors on the market, retinoids cannot be used effectively with benzoyl peroxide or acidic products like AHAs or L-ascorbic acid, because they inactivate the benzoyl peroxide. However, each of these ingredients can have respective potent on-the-spot acne-fighting and lightening, tightening, and brightening effects when used separately on alternating times of the day, days of the week, or in different skin care regimens altogether.

Pass By: Rodan + Fields REVERSE Regimen for Brown Spots, Dullness, and Discoloration

Rodan + Fields

In other products, there are some really great ingredients against hyperpigmentation (i.e., brown spots, dullness, and discoloration). I consider these to be “top tier”:

Then there are ingredients I consider to be ‘just OK’ at treating hyperpigmentation. I wouldn’t use these alone, but would use these to enhance the action of the superstars listed above:

Truth be told, I don’t see a lot of the “Tier 1” superstars against hyperpigmentation in the REVERSE line, nor do I see them in the concentrations needed to get rid of pesky age spots and discoloration. Just my opinion, but I’m not a big fan of using retinol and vitamin C in the lower concentrations they appear to be in with these products.

I also don’t believe in mixing retinol and vitamin C, and the REVERSE regimen has both in the REVERSE Dual Action Brightening Complex.

My reason for not mixing retinol and vitamin C is simple: It comes down to pH. With vitamin C, it has been reported in the Journal of Dermatological Surgery that vitamin C and its derivatives should be formulated at a pH under 3.5 in order to allow the vitamin C to enter the skin (at this pH level, the molecule is protonated and thus can penetrate the skin).

Unfortunately, it has also been reported that the pH optimal for retinol esterification (a process necessary for its activation in the skin) is between 5.5-6.0 (Journal of Investigative Dermatology).  This doesn’t mean that products containing vitamin A and C don’t work – many products contain both! – but it does indicate that using them separately may be a bit more beneficial than mixing the two. I personally use L-ascorbic acid in the morning to boost UV protection, and vitamin A/retinoids at night, when skin care tends to work the best due to the elevated basal body temperature.

Bottom Line

Rodan + Fields has some exceptional products, including the AMP MD microroller facial technology, the SOOTHE mineral sunscreen, and their REDEFINE Pore-Minimizing Toner with the new AHA superstar lactobionic acid.

On the other hand, I don’t particularly care for the fact that the REVERSE line is weak compared to many others out there, the UNBLEMISH treatment line uses benzoyl peroxide all over the face, and I don’t like it that the REDEFINE line includes an ultra-drying cleanser with kaolin, when most older women need to maintain all of the facial oil that they can.

That said, I have the greatest of respect for Drs. Rodan and Fields, and I think that their company is doing wonderful things for women who want to go into business for themselves. Kudos to them, and if you want to try any of their products, I definitely recommend their SOOTHE mineral sunscreen and REDEFINE Pore-Minimizing Toner with the new AHA superstar lactobionic acid!

Looking for the best skin care? FutureDerm is committed to having its customers find — and create — the best skin care for their individual skin type, concern, and based on your ingredient preferences. Learn more by visiting the FutureDerm shop!

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