Which Moisturizers Work Best with FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5?

Skin Care

FUTUREDERM_retinolYes, the rumors are true: Due to the success of our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, we do plan to release an entire line of skin care products by December 2013.  That starts with the release of our FutureDerm Brilliance CE Caffeic later this month, and will continue with several scientific product launches every 3-4 months. So stay tuned!

Yet, in the meantime,  what’s a girl (or guy) to do? The great news is, with so many fantastic moisturizers on the market already, there are definitely choices that work sensationally well with FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5. Our product contains 0.5% microencapsulated retinol, which is designed to work within the skin for eight full hours. Research demonstrates retinol at this concentration may fight age spots, treat lines and wrinkles, prevent collagen loss, and firm skin.  Even better: FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 is formulated to be a lightweight gel. So those with oily skin can skip a moisturizer, but those with normal-to-dry skin types can benefit from one of these afterwards:

Best Preventative (Wrinkles, Fine Lines, Sagging): RevaleSkin Intensive Recovery Treatment


Little-known fact about antioxidants: Different antioxidants work on different pathways within the skin.

This is good news for those of us who vary their skin care during the day. For instance, I use FutureDerm Brilliance CE Caffeic with 16% vitamin C and 2% vitamin E in the morning under a sunscreen. (Yes, I have one. I’m sorry – it’s because I made it. Don’t hate me.) This is because vitamins C and E in combination have been shown to enhance UV protection up to 400% when worn under a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen (American Journal of Dermatology, 2005). But then I mix up the antioxidants that I use at night.

Yet, of those antioxidants, CoffeeBerry has been shown to have the highest antioxidant potential in a 2007 study, as measured by its ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score. CoffeeBerry also has less irritant potential than idebenone, the latter of which has a rather tarnished track record associated with contact dermatitis (Contact Dermatitis, 2008;Contact Dermatitis, 2007; Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2008).  I personally got contact dermatitis after using Prevage a few years ago, so I’m not a fan. Instead, I’m CoffeeBerry all the way!

Of the RevaleSkin CoffeeBerry treatments, the best one I’ve encountered is the RevaleSkin Intensive Recovery Treatment ($130.00 retail, $78.00 Amazon).  It contains 1.5% CoffeeBerry, the highest of any RevaleSkin treatment. Its lightweight texture and fast absorbing nature also makes it perfect layered over our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5.

Best Drugstore: Olay Pro-X Hydra Firming Cream


For under $35 retail (and $17 on Amazon), Olay Pro-X Hydra Firming Cream is amongst the best we’ve tried following FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5. Not only is the price divine, but the texture is ideal for nearly all skin types. There’s also what we estimate to be 4% niacinamide, which has been proven to treat dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, and inflammation. Check it out:

  • Niacinamide has been proven in independent studies to help stimulate ceramides and other lipids within the skin (British Journal of Dermatology, 2000). As a result, using products with approximately 4% niacinamide (the highest you can find over-the-counter) keeps skin feeling hydrated long after using a retinoid.
  • Niacinamide reduces inflammation. In one study, acne was treated with either 4% niacinamide or 1% clindamycin. 4% niacinamide was found not only to have similar efficacy to clindamycin, but to additionally alleviate inflammation within the skin (International Journal of Dermatology, 1995). Because use of a retinoid can temporarily irritate the skin, this soothing anti-inflammatory ability of niacinamide is well-coveted!
  • Niacinamide reduces hyperpigmentation and sallowing of the skin. Like prescription hydroquinone, niacinamide has been shown to combat hyperpigmentation by inhibiting production of melanin (skin pigment) (British Journal of Dermatology, 2000). For the ultra-scientific at heart, there is one key difference: Hydroquinone inhibits the production of melanin by inhibiting tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme of melanin production. On the other hand, niacinamide has been shown to allow tyrosinase to function normally, but it inhibits the transfer of melanin to melanosomes that carry it within the skin (British Journal of Dermatology, 2000). Nonetheless, you can expect slight decreases in the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation with regular niacinamide use.

The other reason I love Olay Pro-X Hydra Firming Cream is the palmitoyl pentapeptide-3.  I’ve encountered more research on palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 than any other peptide available in topically-applied form.  Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 been demonstrated to stimulate new collagen synthesis and to result in an increased production of extracellular matrix proteins (both types I and II collagen and fibronectin).  In a 2005 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 was found to significantly improve the appearance of fine lines + wrinkles, as well as overall moisturization levels.  Given that this was 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, split-face, left–right randomized clinical study, it seems quite sound. Research has also shown that palmitoyl pentapeptide increases skin firmness over time (Cosmeceutical Peptides, 2007). Yet, despite this evidence, some dermatologists, like Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D., author of The Skin Type Solution and CEO of The Baumann Research Institute, maintain that peptides are too large to be absorbed into the skin, and hence are non-efficacious. Given the evidence that is available, we maintain at FutureDerm that peptides may have some benefit, perhaps through intracellular signaling or another pathway. As such, considering Olay Pro-X Hydra Firming Cream with niacinamide and peptides is about the same price as Olay Regenerist with niacinamide and without peptides, we say, go for it anyway.

For the record, this is what I use after FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5!

Best for Age Spots/Hyperpigmentation: Murad Rapid Age Spot Treatment Serum


There is a great irony when it comes to treating age spots and hyperpigmentation: Retinoids and acids like alpha hydroxy acids, kojic and azelaic acids have been shown in independent research studies to treat age spots and hyperpigmentation over time, but they don’t work optimally together. This is because retinoids must be converted within the skin in order to be active – first to retinaldehyde, then to all-trans retinoic acid. The enzymes responsible for this conversion, retinol dehydrogenases (RDHs) have optimized activity at a high pH (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1991).

With that said, it’s nearly impossible to find a treatment that is non-acidic and treats age spots. I suppose a 4% prescription hydroquinone fits the bill, but if it’s over-the-counter treatments you seek, then it’s Murad Rapid Age Spot Treatment Serum ($60.00 retail, $39.99 Amazon) that you seek. The treatment contains 2% hydroquinone (the highest legally available over-the-counter), plus glycolic acid. Because it is acidic, I’ve found best results with the following guidelines:

Best for Acne:  Topix Replenix Cream

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Acne can be ridiculously hard to treat because many of the agents used to treat it are drying. For instance, for acne, we always recommend a salicyclic acid or sulfur-based cleanser, benzoyl peroxide on-the-spot treatments, retinoids, and oil-free products all around.

After using FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, one product we’ve found works great with acne is Topix Replenix Cream. Some may balk at the fact that it is a “cream,” but it has no oil-based ingredients. What’s more, it contains concentrated green tea as standardized EGCG. EGCG, the primary active component of green tea, has 5-α-reductase properties, which means EGCG acts as an anti-androgenic agent.  Researchers think this might help the hormonal causes of acne when topically applied (Lipids in Health and Disease,Correspondence). Another study showed that the acidic polysaccharide found in green tea worked as an anti-adhesive against skin pathogenic bacteria (Ji-Hye, et. al.).  Together with its soothing properties, this makes green tea a must-have for acne. Perhaps not as “must-have” as salicyclic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur. But a must-have nonetheless.

Best for Sensitive Skin:  Atopalm Moisturizing Skin Complex


Whenever one of my friends comes to me with dry or irritated skin, I reach for this handy tube. Atopalm Moisturizing Skin Complex is chalk-full of some of my favorite ingredients, including green tea, niacinamide, and grape seed extract. Yet what I really love about Atopalm Moisturizing Skin Complex is the ultra-clever formulation: Thinner dimethicone holds moisture in towards the skin, while thicker glycerin provides a thick capsule of hydration. But the real magic is with the right amount of butylene glycol, which thins the formulation, and keeps it fast-absorbing on the skin.

I’m a huge fan of Atopalm Moisturizing Skin Complex, particularly when my skin is dry or irritated. It’s the perfect moisturizer for sensitive skin after using our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5!

Bottom Line

Until I have a whole line of moisturizers to introduce for use after FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, I love:

What are your favorite combinations? Let me know in Comments!

Check our bestsellers!

  • Laura

    I know you posted this months ago, Leila, but I was wondering the same thing and found the answer if you’re still looking:

    Basically, it’s just been renamed. So no, it isn’t different.


  • leila


    Is palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 the same as palmitoyl pentapeptide-4? After reading your review about OLAY, i went to see the full ingridients list and it had palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 not palmitoyl pentapeptide-3… is it different?


  • Kimberly

    As a stay home mom to a toddler and full time caregiver to a spouse who had a severe stroke (tho I am a masters degree educated former corporate HR manager) , I’ve seen stress and neglect of my skin wreck havoc on my 42 year old skin. After stopping Botox and Juvederm for the past two years, I’ve gotten Botox again while searching for a great OTC retinol product to ease into before I try or need prescription. I’ve researched for a week constantly trying to find reviews and unbiased info based on SCIENCE for the best delivery of a retinol product. When I found your blog, I began avidly devouring the information. What a refreshing site that provides unbiased info and science backed stats that offer a spectrum of products and info. I have chosen Future Derm as my first (yes late though) entry to retinol. I just ordered and I am excited to receive it soon. This blog clears up so many misconceptions about skin care and being a Southerner I find many southern women are simply unaware of the need for science based skincare. We fret over our appearance yet stick with mainstream products without delving deeper into what really works. That’s just my opinion of course. But beig from a rural southern area I find similarities with women from other rural parts all over the US who have a hard time accessing or knowing where to look for science based unbiased reviews. I appreciate this site for the diversity it offers and hope your company PR reps will look into how to spread your message of science based skincare that’s easy to decider for people of all socio economic backgrounds. It’s not how much money you spend but what you get for your money. I’ve spent hundreds on other options with little to no results as I didn’t understand or know what I was buying in terms of ingredients and how they work (or don’t work in most cases). I look forward to your new products as I was also pleased with the posts where you give great options to use with your retinol product from other brands. Very honest and refreshing! I also look forward to continuing to follow this blog for more great info on a variety of products!

  • Firn

    Really excited for your CE Ferulic! Skinceuticals’ broke me out so badly (due to the laureth-7), so hopefully yours will work for me! And I hope it’s in an airless pump bottle too.

  • @Anna – You’re very welcome!

  • Anna

    Thanks Nicki, it does help! I was expecting to use the Hydraluron BEFORE the retinol… so I would definitely have mucked that up.

  • @Jeffrey – Aww, thanks so much!

    We are in the process of rebranding the website, products, and printed materials. We have a lot of surprises for our readers in the months to follow (think mid to late summer 2013), so stay tuned! 🙂

  • @Anna – If I use a product with hyaluronic acid after our retinol, I wait for 20-30 minutes before applying the hyaluronic acid product. It’s still not ideal to use an acidic product, but I’ve still found results in trying it myself. Granted, I know this is not as scientific as, say, a peer-reviewed independent study documenting that waiting 20-30 minutes makes a significant difference, but it’s the best that I can do with the information that we have right now!

    Does that help?

  • I want to compliment you on what a great product FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 is. Everywhere I have read about it folks have been saying what excellent results they have achieved with it. And now you are getting your own full range of products which is something really exciting to look forward to!

  • Anna

    Hi Nicki, if you were going to use a product like Hydraluron (and for that matter, would you?) would it go under or over the Retinol product, or is the hyaluronic acid product too low in pH to use in conjunction at all?

  • Hi @Christina! I’m glad that you are enjoying our blog and our skin care advice!

    Here’s a video about our retinol for when you decide to make the switch (there’s an exclusive coupon code at the end):

    Let me know if you have any questions!

  • Christina

    Thanks Niki for the informative review. I am 37 years old, have sensitive oily skin and I’m very concerned about wrinkles. Also keen to try FutureDerm’s Retinol product but still working my way through Skin Ceuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream and I follow this with MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel. After reading one of your other reviews I also use Cosmedicine Primary Care Multi-Tasking Moisturizer SPF 20, during the day – thanks for the tip!

  • @AJ – Great question! The difference between niacinamide in Olay products and nicotinic acid in NIA 24 is the pH of each ingredient.

    Both ingredients have been shown to have similar benefits: Niacinamide and nicotinic acid have both been shown in peer-reviewed independent studies to hydrate the skin, inhibit hyperpigmentation, and to alleviate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles somewhat (though not as significantly as retinoids or AHAs).

    However, nicotinic acid works faster in exfoliating the skin (in my opinion). On the flip side, it is also more irritating. Niacinamide has been associated with very few allergic reactions, whereas nicotinic acid often produces a “flush” and a tolerance period for the skin. So if I were to pick one, I would say niacinamide if you need results in 4 weeks or less, nicotinic acid if you’re thinking 6-8 weeks or longer.

    Hope this helps! Full article: https://www.futurederm.com/2012/09/27/spotlight-on-vitamin-b3-niacinamide-and-nicotinic-acid/

  • @Nicholas – As soon as we get the ingredients and the droppers in! It takes a little while, but thankfully, both have been ordered. We are opening up pre-orders on March 26, and hoping to have the Brilliance CE Caffeic in no later than April 15.

  • @Moxie – Thank you!

  • Nicholas Zimmerman

    Nevermind! I saw the response already. I can’t wait to pre-order it!

  • Just wanted to comment that I’m so excited for you/FutureDerm! How awesome to have an entire line of skin care products by December 2013!! xo

  • Nicholas Zimmerman

    When is your antioxidant going to be available?!

  • AJ

    Nicki – How would you compare the Olay to Nia24 (other than price)?

  • @Kristina – Hi!

    The difference between Topix Replenix Cream and Topix Replenix CF is that the former does not contain caffeine, whereas the latter (CF) does. The caffeine has been shown to temporarily constrict blood vessels somewhat, and to more significantly dehydrate skin cells. This results in “depuffing,” which many people like around the eye area (especially in the winter or after consuming lots of salty foods).

    I personally like the Topix Replenix better. But that’s just me!

    Thanks for the comment on the Vitamin CE Caffeic Serum! It’s going to be revolutionary – a 2-in-1 serum and primer. It goes on really well under moisturizer, sunscreen, and/or makeup. I’ve been using it for two weeks and I’m really, really thrilled with it! We’ll do preorders soon, I believe the 26th of March 🙂

    Let me know if you need anything else!


  • carmen k

    Great post! Thank you, I started using your retinol 2 weeks ago & already see positive differences, I am very intrigued to try 1 of the moisturizer you recommended above to pair with the retinol, but would like to finish what I currently have, can you please comment on La Roche Posay Effaclar H after futerderm retinol? ingredients here: http://www.laroche-posay.com/products-treatments/Effaclar/Effaclar-H-p2228.aspx

    Thanks in advance!

  • Kristina

    Nicki, when you mention the Topix Replenix Cream…..are you talking about the Topix Replenix CF Cream? If not, what’s the difference between the two?

    I can’t wait for the Vitamin C serum!! I’ve been waiting for months! *continues waiting patiently…*

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