Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream with 0.5% Pure Retinol
Skinceuticals’ Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream’s gotten a makeover since the first time we reviewed it, and unfortunately the latest formula is not an upgrade.
Just as before, this has a lightweight creamy texture that’s easy to smooth across skin and is suitable for all skin types. It remains fragrance free and still contains an effective amount of retinol (yes, even half a percent is still effective!) to help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. There are even a couple of skin-soothing ingredients in the mix.
The issue is that those ingredients are fighting an uphill battle in this formula. This contains more of the skin-drying type of alcohol than either retinol or soothing ingredients, which does skin a disservice (see More Info for details).
While alcohol can improve a product’s aesthetics, and help ingredients penetrate skin more easily, it can also be drying. In this case, it’s also allowing the retinol to penetrate skin a bit too much, with very little to buffer it, meaning it’s more likely to cause a sensitized reaction. That’s bad for anyone but considering this is a product positioned for retinol beginners, the likelihood of a not-so-pretty outcome increases, and we worry such results will cause more people to shy away from using retinol again.
There are plenty of still-potent but less irritating retinol products on the market, so there’s no need to waste your time with this one.
- Lightweight texture is suitable for all skin types.
- Contains an effective amount of retinol to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Includes some skin-soothing ingredients.
- Fragrance free.
- Contains a high amount of drying alcohol.
- Low amount of soothing ingredients.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.
When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we’re referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.
When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There’s no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.
The reason they’re included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it’s easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn’t lead to negative long-term outcomes!
Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin’s protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.
The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.
There are people who challenge us on the information we’ve presented about alcohol’s effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded “alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing….” But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.
Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you’ll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It’s important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.
References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190
Retinol 0.5 contains 0.5% pure retinol and is enhanced with the latest stabilization and delivery technologies to ensure the full dosage is slowly and evenly released. Designed to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin discoloration. This night cream can minimize the appearance of pore size, while reducing the appearance of blemishes associated with problematic skin.
With a strong presence in the professional (meaning spa and aesthetics) skincare market, SkinCeuticals has a mostly well-deserved reputation for producing serious-minded, research-driven products, several of which are centered on L-ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C).
There are many good reasons to shop this line; it boasts a lineup up impressive vitamin C products, as well as some good retinol options and sunscreens. Even better is that the majority of its anti-aging products are packaged in containers that will protect their contents from light and air. Focusing on what Skinceuticals does best (which is serums, sunscreens, and specialty products) will be money well spent for visible results. The main drawbacks of this line are some products that contain fragrance ingredients, as well as potentially-drying alcohol, though they represent the minority of the brands offerings.
For more information about SkinCeuticals, call 1-800-771-9489 or visit www.skinceuticals.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.