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Hello, 

welcome to SKINCARMA!

These are the musings of a skincare junkie + writer + brand guru with 25+ years of product wisdom put into action to demystify skin care. 


You can change your skin’s destiny.™

PRODUCTS I LOVE : SKINCEUTICALS NIGHTLY RETINOL FACE CREAMS

When it comes to skin care, I’m always on the hunt for what works. Funny, when I worked at Kiehl’s, I had a running joke with a friend on the product development team that “nothing works”. That wasn’t quite true. Products do work — often better than expected, but more often less than expected. To be more accurate, what we probably meant was, “nothing works like we want it to work.” We had high expectations! All these years later, I know we were on some sort of high-speed conveyor belt ride to develop the next big thing that would wow management and customers alike. It’s human nature. We all want excitement. We long for what’s new and different — something, anything to break up the monotony. Imagine where we started as humans, clans of bored cavemen (and cavewomen!) hanging out around the fire. I imagine Caveman Carmine grunting into the flames:

“Can someone please tell a story or I’ll die right here of boredom.”

That’s where we got the phrase “bored to death.” From the cavemen!

I’m always studying skincare products and ingredients, intrigued by the stories they tell. 2019 All Right Reserved. Photo by Cody Dash

I’m always studying skincare products and ingredients, intrigued by the stories they tell. 2019 All Right Reserved. Photo by Cody Dash

Skin care, like the marketing of all consumer products, is about storytelling. Sometimes it’s more story, sometimes it’s more reality. The sweet spot is when the story is based in reality. I like to think that’s my aim as a copywriter when I’m developing product messaging.

Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate

Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate

It goes for skincare ingredients, too. Cannabis in skin care is hot right now. But is the story being told by marketers about Hemp Oil even based in reality? Beyond being an effective skin-replenishing and moisturizing plant oil, does it actually have the effect of calming skin? As far as I can tell, the science hasn’t caught up just yet. Even Kiehl's, in the marketing around their new Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate, was cautious to build the story of their oil’s benefits around additional ingredients that may soothe irritated, problem skin — among them Green Oregano Oil.

Which brings me to snail slime.

That’s a classic example of a skincare story loosely based in reality. Call it “snail mucin” or snail secretion filtrate if you want to make it sound more credible, but slime is slime. The only time I’m so in love with snails that I don’t mind getting their slime on my face is when they’re on a plate of mouth-watering escargot. Like that succulent serving of escargot from my most recent trip to Paris!

My succulent escargot appetizer in my Parisian lunch last year.

My succulent escargot appetizer in my Parisian lunch last year.

Celebrated across K-Beauty for its allegedly miraculous reparative and moisturizing properties, the snail-slime-in-skin-care story is one I just can’t get behind. I prefer tried-and-true ingredients like vitamins, minerals, botanical extracts and plant oils. As unsexy as it is, Vitamin C work wonders. And Vitamin A, or Retinol, does too. Talk about a miraculous ingredient! Retinol is a proven skin-restoring, wrinkle-smoothing, firming ingredient — in addition to being a powerfully protective antioxidant. It’s not very sexy, but why does skin care have to be sexy at all?

There have been a lot of stories told about Retinol over its long product history, some more story, some more reality. But science is science, based in fact. Retinol is simply one of the most potent anti-aging ingredients available. On the Paula’s Choice site, there’s an outstanding, research supported article on the fact-deprived stories told about Retinol called “5 Retinol Myths, Busted.” You can access it here. 

Myth #5: You shouldn’t combine retinol with vitamin C.

A recent study revealed two important facts: not only did retinol prove effective when paired with vitamin C, but the two worked beautifully together to defend skin against environmental assault when applied under a sunscreen.

The strongest, most potent forms of Vitamin A can lead to irritation and intense peeling, particularly the prescription-strength form called Tretinoin, or Retin-A. Available through a dermatologist, the ingredient is used to treat acne, smooth skin texture, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. So what about Retinol itself? Without a prescription, how effective is it? Honestly, in my experience, just as effective in higher doses as Tretinoin. “Retinol” is the name for the entire vitamin A molecule and has been proven to promote cell turnover, the process through which skin replaces old, dead skin cells with new, vibrant ones.

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As with so much of what I believe from skin care, I hold scientists and dermatologist-supported brands in high esteem. They’re the true experts. One of the derm brands I consider a go-to is SkinCeuticals. I’ve talked quite a bit about the fact that they make the most effective sunscreen for the eye area I’ve ever come across. The SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 is indispensable to me and I credit it with maintaining the youthful quality of the skin around my eyes — without ever having used any kind of injection or invasive procedure. I’ve reviewed it previously here.

So, I was super intrigued to try SkinCeuticals’ three Retinol treatments. They’re perfectly complementary, though not used at the same time. Rather, they’re more like steps, levels or stages of Retinol potency — one that helps to ameliorate the common irritating effects of Retinol use.

SkinCeuticals’ three Retinol offerings are more like three skincare steps.

SkinCeuticals’ three Retinol offerings are more like three skincare steps.

These three Retinol Refining Night Creams — RETINOL 0.3, RETINOL 0.5 and RETINOL 1.0 — are simply three varying strengths of Retinol. The key to using this form of Vitamin A most effectively is to start with a low-grade formula and build skin’s tolerance over time until your skin can tolerate the most potent, and most results-heavy form. SkinCeuticals has nailed it with their three treatments. First, they’re packaged in opaque, airtight tubes that protect the ingredients from the effects of UV degradation and oxidation resulting from exposure to air. Each contains similar ingredient cocktails with a different Retinol potency. Plus, they’re formulated with a calming complex comprised of Boswellia Serrata Extract and Bisabolol — the active component of the chamomile plant and one of my favorite irritation soothers.

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SkinCeuticals’ entry level product is the RETINOL 0.3 — a concentrated Retinol face cream with 0.3% pure Retinol. I started out with version 0.3 three weeks ago, even though I’m an experienced Retinol user. Two weeks ago, I leveled up to RETINOL 0.5 which contains 0.5% pure Retinol. SkinCeuticals recommends it for skin that has been “preconditioned” with the lower-strength RETINOL 0.3. Normally, you would want to use up an entire tube before moving on, so I kind of cheated. In neither case, using the treatments every other night as a part of my PM regimen, did I experience any peeling or significant irritation — something that is common on my sensitized forehead.

By week three, I stepped up my game to the most potent of the three treatments, the RETINOL 1.0 Retinol face cream. About the 1.0 cream, SkinCeuticals says it’s intended “for problematic and sun-damaged skin that has been preconditioned with the use of Retinol 0.5. Formulated with the highest concentration of 1.0% pure retinol, this night cream is enhanced with the latest stabilization and delivery technologies to ensure a steady, even release of the maximum available concentration.”

I did experience a small degree of irritation with 1.0 which, again, is expected. I’m an experienced Retinol user, so I wasn't anticipating excessive peeling and extreme redness — and didn’t experience that at all.

Each of the SkinCeuticals Retinol Refining Night Creams claims to do the same thing, with varying degrees of efficacy:

Promotes cell turnover

Improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, pores, and blemishes

Formulated to minimize irritation commonly associated with the use of retinol night creams

Specialized packaging preserves retinol potency

Non-comedogenic, paraben-, fragrance-, and gluten-free

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I know skincare marketers have done one thing really well: they’ve confused us all with their stories about Retinol. But I think I’ve come across a solid solution that treats Retinol application as it should be treated — in measured doses that gradually increase potency to enhance results over time. That’s how a dermatologist does it. And SkinCeuticals has taken that exact approach here. The formulas aren’t perfect as they include a degree of Denatured Alcohol that I assume is intended to aid in the absorption of the Retinol. Personally, I’m no fan of alcohol in my skin care.

Hey, if you’re looking for a solid Retinol regimen, I think this is a worthy option — for beginners and advanced users alike.

🖤 SKINCARMA


**WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE SKINCEUTICALS NIGHTLY RETINOL CREAMS ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE.**


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The Ingredient List of the SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3:

aqua / water / eau, propanediol, dimethicone, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, alcohol denat., dipropylene glycol, ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, hydrogenated lecithin, allyl methacrylates crosspolymer, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, isopropyl myristate, retinol, polysorbate 20, sodium citrate, boswellia serrata resin extract, dimethiconol, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, bisabolol, citric acid, bht, propyl gallate.

The Ingredient List of the SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5:

aqua / water / eau, propanediol, dimethicone, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, alcohol denat., dipropylene glycol, ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, allyl methacrylates crosspolymer, acrylamide/sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, hydrogenated lecithin, isohexadecane, retinol, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, polysorbate 20, isopropyl myristate, sodium citrate, boswellia serrata gum, polysorbate 80, dimethiconol, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, bisabolol, bht, sorbitan oleate, citric acid, propyl gallate.

The Ingredient List of the SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0:

aqua / water / eau, propanediol, dimethicone, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, alcohol denat., allyl methacrylates crosspolymer, dipropylene glycol, ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, acrylamide/sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, retinol, hydrogenated lecithin, polysorbate 20, isohexadecane, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, isopropyl myristate, sodium citrate, boswellia serrata gum, polysorbate 80, bht, dimethiconol, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, bisabolol, sorbitan oleate, citric acid, propyl gallate.

SKINCARMA APPROVED : MY FAVE FACIAL OILS FOR WINTER SKIN

SKINCARMA APPROVED : MY FAVE FACIAL OILS FOR WINTER SKIN

SKINCARE 101 : MY AM ANTI-AGING SKINCARE ROUTINE

SKINCARE 101 : MY AM ANTI-AGING SKINCARE ROUTINE