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Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum represents both the very best and the very worst in skincare today. Here’s why:
The Best of Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum
First, let’s start with the best. I consider “the best” to be scientifically-proven ingredients, in high concentrations, with quality delivery systems. And Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum has those in spades, with retinol, vitamin E, jojoba and purified honey (two of the few natural ingredients proven to work for skin). Along with sunscreen, retinoids are still the gold standard of anti-aging in skin care. And retinol in particular is amazing. Unlike prescription retinoids, which only work in the uppermost layers of the skin, retinol or retinyl palmitate get through all five layers of the skin, waaaay down into the deepest layer (the dermis) (Toxicology and Skin Health, 2006). Considering this is where collagen is formed, this is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And in addition to stimulating collagen production in peer-reviewed studies, retinol has also been found to have significant antioxidant activity and to inhibit enzymes called MMPs that degrade collagen production (Cosmetic Dermatology).
Vitamin E is also awesome. Your skin naturally has vitamin E in spades when you are young, both because you produce a lot of it, and because your skin preserves it well (oh, youth!). In fact, according to a study by J.J. Thiele, depleted levels of vitamin E are a sign of aging, a “very early and sensitive biomarker of environmentally-induced oxidation.”
And I love using vitamin A and vitamin E together. According to a 2001 study, also in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, vitamin A and vitamin E both benefit the skin, but in distinct, complementary ways. According to the study, in the mouse skin model, “topical vitamin A has been shown to prevent the UV-induced epidermal hypovitaminosis A [low levels of vitamin A in the skin],” and “topical vitamin E prevents oxidative stress and cutaneous and systemic immunosuppression elicited by UV.”
The Worst of Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum
In the U.S., ingredients must be listed from highest concentration to lowest concentration (unless they’re found in concentrations of 1% or less.) Take a look at where retinol falls on the Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum ingredients list:
Water, Glycerin, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Isoamyl Laurate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Shea Butter Cetyl Esters, Triheptanoin, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Behenyl Alcohol, Methylpropanediol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Retinol, Glyceryl Stearate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Betaine, Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Limonene, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lecithin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Maslinic Acid, Lysolecithin, Phenylpropanol, Bht, Sodium Phytate, Dimethiconol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Mel (Honey/Miel), Pectin, Phospholipids, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Helianthus Annuus(Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil.
The reason for the discrepancy? Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum contains 2% “retinol complex,” not 2% “retinol.” And I hate this. It’s misleading for an increasingly ingredient-savvy audience who believes higher concentrations will yield higher results, and also for those who abide by the rule that you should work up to increasingly higher concentrations of retinol. But the truth is, we don’t know if Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum contains 0.1% retinol, 0.5% retinol, 1% retinol, or 1.5% retinol. All we know is that 2% of the mixture is a “complex.”
I hate it when brands do this.
If you’re looking for a quality skincare product that may improve fine lines and wrinkles and skin hydration, Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum is solid.
But if you’re a skincare fanatic like me and are looking for a skincare product that actually has 2% retinol, look elsewhere. Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum contains 2% “retinol complex,” not 2% “retinol,” and this really pisses me off, quite frankly, because it is misleading to anyone but the most savvy of skincare buyers. For that reason, I’m moving on past this one.