Retinol! In my late teens and early twenties, I had only heard of retinol through the pages of Allure magazine. At the time I thought retinol was only for aging skin and wrinkle treatment so I didn’t pay much attention. My main concern was acne prevention.
My skin has changed from oily and acne prone to more of a dry-normal combination type. Sunscreen is now a high priority. The texture of my skin has changed as well. I still get the occasional breakout, but now it’s relegated to the mouth & chin areas.
In my quest for great skin, I bought a Clarisonic Mia in January of 2011 (review here), a bottle of Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid toner last fall (review here) and a Kate Somerville EradiKate acne treatment in January of 2012 (review here).
- Clarisonic Mia –> Physical exfoliation, skin resurfacing, cleaning
- Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid toner –> Chemical exfoliation, skin resurfacing, cleaning, acne prevention
- Kate Somerville EradiKate acne treatment –> acne treatment after-the-fact
I had seen a few reviews on YouTube about retinol in general and how it resurfaced the skin AND prevented acne. So I was curious to try it.
- Retinol boosts the epidermal layer of the skin by promoting cell production, making the skin look rejuvenated and even-toned.
- Over-the-counter retinol creams gradually restore the skin over time. However, prescription-grade retinoic acid visibly reduces the signs of sun damage to the skin.
The main concern associated with using retinol is the skin sensitivity that may result from its use. Retinol sensitivity can cause redness, dryness and flaking of the skin.
I looked for the highest rated retinol cream I could find and came upon the MakeupAlley review page for Skinceuticals Retinol with a 0.5% Retinol concentration.
The Skinceuticals brand is NOT cheap… a 30mL tube will set you back $49 at Skinmedix! No thanks. I didn’t even know if it would work for me yet!
I decided to go a cheaper route. At the end of December I bought 5 travel tubes on Ebay for $25 with free shipping. (I just checked the same Ebay seller, they upped the price to $33.75 unfortunately.) If you decide to go the Ebay route like me, please do your research in order to get an authentic product… I’d hate for any of you to be disappointed.
I’m glad I bought travel tubes instead of the full product… as each application is only about a pea sized amount and I’m barely through a single tube!
(Skinceuticals also has a 1.0% concentration but I wanted to play it safe with a lower dose. Just in case.)
From the Skinceuticals website:
- Helps reduce appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, ages spots, blemishes, and blotchiness
- Preserves optimal retinol stability and minimizes less erythema commonly associated with the use of retinol
- Ensures maximum amount of retinol is delivered to the skin
If you have never used retinol products before, begin by limiting use to twice a week, then gradually increase frequency to every other night, and finally once an evening as tolerated. Consult your skincare professional for a dosage schedule appropriate for your skin.
Apply a pea-sized amount of Retinol .5 to thoroughly cleansed skin in the evening. Carefully avoid the eyes and the corner of the eyes. To ensure optimal results, wait at least 30 minutes before applying any corrective or moisturizing products the same evening as applying SkinCeuticals retinol.
Do not use retinol products if you are pregnant or lactating. Do not use if taking prescription acne medication, or if undergoing a skin peeling regimen.
At first I applied a pea sized amount onto my clean skin at night, waited 30 minutes, then washed it off gently with water. I did this once a week. The cream is not drying on the skin. I was a little concerned that 30 minutes with just this cream and NO moisturizer would make my skin shrivel up, but thankfully it didn’t dry it out.
Little did I know that I wasn’t supposed to use ANY chemical exfoliants with it! If you see the directions above, I didn’t realize that glycolic acid and salicylic acid (=”skin peeling regimen”) would have an adverse effect with the Skinceuticals Retinol cream.
One evening I accidentally used the Mario Badescu glycolic acid toner and I immediately regretted it. I had red, flaky, irritated skin for at least two days. Ouch!!! I’ve since hidden the bottle under the sink lest I forget!
Another (fortunately less painful) incident was when I unknowingly used Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. My skin didn’t react as strongly as with the toner, but I did feel a slight stinging sensation. This is a gentle rice-based exfoliant that releases Papain, Salicylic Acid and Rice Enzymes after becoming in contact with water. Keywords: Salicylic acid. Whoops.
Now I know that if I’m using a retinol product, I can’t mix with other chemical exfoliants. I really thought my skin was tough, but this cream has proved otherwise. I read in Allure recently (and also on this article and this article online) that retinols should NOT be mixed with: “salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or vitamin C.” Learn from my mistakes and do not mix! Try to separate them as best you can in your skincare regimen.
I continued to apply the cream once a week. One night, I left the cream on as I was sleeping. I did have some visible flaking as a result. Later on, I even tried to push it to 2x a week. It was still too much flaking for me to be comfortable, so I’m scaling back once again to 1x a week, and washing it off after 30 minutes.
Retinol does make the skin sensitive to sunlight, and I did notice that my nose was getting a little more pink and irritated as a result. So now I wear a hat in the mornings during Buddy’s morning walk to help shade my face. And I’m now I’m trying to apply a lot more sunscreen underneath my makeup.
So what about the results? After the peeling subsides, I can tell that my skin’s clarity has improved slightly. I haven’t had a real acne breakout in a while and I’m less self conscious when going out sans-makeup. I’m even more impressed with my acne results than the Mario Badescu Glycolic acid toner that I raved about in the past. Last week I saw a clogged pore coming up to the surface and I dabbed a tiny bit of the retinol cream just on that spot. It went away without incident a day later. Perhaps if you’re too scared to try it on your full face, just use it on problem areas.
This is definitely not a miracle product, but I find that the hassle is worth it. For now at least! It seems as if the quest to attaining perfect skin will never end.
- Helps keep my skin clear
- Increases clarity
- Not drying upon application, even when waiting 30 minutes without any moisturizer
- Renews skin texture
- You don’t need much per application
- Strict guidelines for application
- Reactive with other skincare items due to pH: chemical exfoliants, acids
- Makes skin sensitive to the sun
Rating: 4 stars. It’s a hassle, but clear skin is worth it.
Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment (find here)
I first saw this product on Youtube on Checkinthemirror‘s channel as one of her favorite acne treatments. Since I’m a fan of the Mario Badescu products that I’ve tried (glycolic acid toner review here), I read reviews on the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. Reviews were mixed and I decided to pass for the time being. But upon hearing some raves for the Kate Somerville line in general I decided to try this product out.
After a month of testing it on my skin, I’m ready to review it!
From the Sephora website:
EradiKate Acne Treatment
What it is:
An effective blemish banishing therapy.
What it is formulated to do:
Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment heals blemishes and prevents future breakouts quickly!
What else you need to know:
This skincare solution provides the highest level of sulfur allowed in order to calm acne flare-ups and free skin of further bacteria buildup. The result is a clear complexion that lasts!
The price is $22 for 1 oz of product. (The Mario Badescu drying lotion is $17 for 1z) Quite pricey for a skincare product, but I haven’t had much results with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide treatments in the past. This is a dual phase product with a light pinky sediment with a layer of isopropyl alcohol on top. Essentially you’re getting 0.5 oz of active product, I think it will last a while. The isopropyl alcohol layer is there to keep the pink sediment from drying out.
Sulfur is a ingredient that causes the skin to dry up and peel. I’ve heard that your outer layer of skin is renewed every 30 days or so. So this essentially speeds up that skin renewal process.
To apply this treatment, you dip a clean Q-tip into the bottle to pick up the pink sediment at the bottom. It has a wet powder consistency and dries to a light pink powder on the skin.
After using it on two different types of acne, cystic and surface acne, I feel that this product does work. But up to a point. This is no acne miracle product, but knowing what the active ingredient is and its purpose, it does do what it claims to do. Sulfur makes the skin slough off quicker than if you try to leave it alone, as it speeds up the skin cell renewal process.
For surface acne my spots dried up within a day and completely healed within a day or two. Cystic acne does take time for it to rise to the surface and this product does not make that process any faster. But once it does come up to the surface I do see that the EradiKate treatment helps with the inflammation, and the drying and subsequent healing process is faster with nightly treatment.
And now. The smell! I’m not a fan, but I can deal with it. Justin affectionately calls me “match face” when I treat my spots. But hey, beauty is pain! Or smell, in this case. It doesn’t stop me from using it.
So! Will I buy it again? Yes, I think I would. There are products out there that prevent acne and products that will treat acne when its already here. This product is the latter. In my experience the EradiKate acne treatment helps dry up and heal my acne faster. I’ll try my best to prevent acne, but when it pops up I just want it gone! :P
Pros: Skin turnover is faster, helps heal blemishes quicker.
Cons: Expensive, smelly.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Long time no post! ( I’ve been very busy with my Etsy shop, and between sewing orders and mousing/typing at work my hands have been hurting again. sigh.)
Anyway I wanted to write about the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid toner, since I bought it in April 2011 and I feel I’ve had enough time to give a substantial review.
I first found about Mario Badescu years ago through their magazine ads, most notably their famous dual-layered drying lotion.
Sometime last year I was working through my subscriptions in my Google reader and someone had posted a link to FREE Mario Badescu samples through the company site, so I decided to try it out!
(Here’s the link)
In order to get the free samples you have to answer questions about your skin type and they will recommend a series of products for you. I don’t guarantee you’ll get the glycolic acid toner in your sample set though, since the samples you’ll receive depend on the answers you give them. But nonetheless if you aren’t familiar with the brand it will be an inexpensive way to try their products out.
My skintype is a combination type: dry cheeks, oilier nose and chin that isn’t overly sensitive to products. Before my current regimen I had a pimple maybe once a month or so. In my teen years my skin was much oilier and acne prone. Thankfully my skin has become much more manageable and I’m so glad those days are over!
In a few weeks after completing the questionnaire I received 6 little bottles and containers of samples as well as an extensive product guide. And in my little sample kit I received a tiny bottle of the blue Glycolic Acid toner.
From the Mario Badescu website:
A Solution For Wrinkles and Pigmentation. Formulated with 2% Glycolic Acid and Grapefruit Extract which work together to exfoliate, refresh and stimulate dry and congested skin. Helps reduce discoloration from old acne scars as well as build-up that can cause skin to look tired and dull. Alcohol free.
For: Dry or Sensitive Skn
HOW TO USE: Twice daily after cleansing, pat skin dry and apply lotion dampened cotton by wiping in an outward direction until cotton comes up clean. Avoid eye area. Follow with moisturizer or night cream.
INGREDIENTS: Deionized Water (Aqua),Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice) Gel,Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis Fruit) Extract, Glycolic Acid
I tend to get clogged pores around my nose and chin and I really feel that this toner has helped significantly.
How I use it:
AM: When I wake up in the morning, I use the toner in place of washing my face. I swipe my cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin with a toner-soaked cotton pad; I feel it gets rid of any oiliness and dirt nicely. Although its meant for sensitive skin, I *do* notice a bit of stingy-tingliness but it goes away after about a minute or so. After this I apply my moisturizer plus sunscreen.
PM: After washing my face in the shower, I apply it the same way before my nightly moisturizer.
I haven’t seen any results on my acne scars honestly, both old and new. I don’t feel like the glycolic acid is strong enough to make that kind of change. The amount of redness in my skin has not changed either.
But for oil control, reducing dry flakes, and reducing the frequency of my breakouts, I think it works wonderfully!
Price: $18 for 8 oz
- Not alcohol based, therefore not drying
- Only 4 ingredients
- Helps keep my skin clear
- Skin texture feels smooth and keeps flakies at bay
- Good at removing oil and dirt
- A bit pricey for toner
- A tiny bit sticky due to the aloe ingredient, but I don’t mind it
- Packaging is simple and not pretty
- A little bit of stinging after applying
- Probably won’t lighten older acne scars
Rating: 5 stars
Since my breakouts have been less frequent, I have to say that this is my HG toner. Clear skin is priceless!