Revitalift Derm Intensives .3% Nightly Retinol Serum
L’Oreal’s Revitalift Derm Intensives .3% Nightly Retinol Serum has the basic foundation of a good retinol treatment, but one questionable ingredient means that for the sake of your skin, this is not one to consider.
First, the good: this comes packaged in an opaque blue bottle with a dropper dispenser, which products its good ingredients from light and air exposure. It’s fragrance free, and has a light, gel-lotion texture suitable for all skin types.
The amount of retinol present here is – as the name states – 0.3%, a potent and effective amount that will have a visible impact on signs of aging, including wrinkles. This also contains sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid that helps to plump and rehydrate skin.
Other than that, though, there isn’t much here. Noticeably lacking are skin soothing ingredients that can help mitigate the sensitivity some people experience when using higher strengths of retinol (as an example, 0.01% would be considered low strength).
More of an issue: this contains a high amount of drying denatured alcohol – it’s the third ingredient in this product. L’Oreal touts this formula’s quick-drying formula, and the amount of alcohol is the reason why this occurs. But the other side is that alcohol can damage skin, leading to increased signs of aging, and working against the retinol that’s here (see More Info below for details).
Our advice is to skip this one and instead choose a much gentler option from our list of best retinol products.
- Lightweight gel-lotion formula is suitable for all skin types.
- Contains 0.3% retinol, which will visibly improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Packaged to protect its light- and air-sensitive ingredients.
- Fragrance free.
- Contains a high amount of drying and irritating denatured alcohol.
- Includes no soothing ingredients to temper how some people’s skin might react to retinol or buffer alcohol’s effects.
Alcohol-Based Skin Care Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skin care product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.
When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skin care 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, the product is highly likely to irritate and cause other problems for skin; it doesn’t take much of this type of alcohol to trigger skin stress. 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, erode 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.
What about very low levels of denatured alcohol? These sometimes show up in products because the alcohol may be part of the preservative system or may have been used to make certain ingredients more soluble in the formula. In these instances the amount of alcohol is typically below 0.1%, so is unlikely to pose a risk to skin.
References for this information:
Journal of Hospital Infection, August 2019, pages 419-424
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2017, pages 188-196
Drug Design, Development and Therapy, November 2015, pages 6,225-6,233
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, November 2014, pages 109-117
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in Practice, March 2013, pages 195-196
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
OUR MOST POWERFUL PURE RETINOL FORMULA TO VISIBLY REDUCE WRINKLES, EVEN DEEP WRINKLES. Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum with 0.3% Pure Retinol is our most potent and has our highest concentration of Pure Retinol.
L'Oreal Paris At-A-Glance
Strengths: Budget-friendly prices; good makeup removers; wide assortment of self-tanning options; one of the best, most comprehensive makeup collections at the drugstore, with superb options in almost every category; the mascaras are a tough act to follow.
Weaknesses: Jar packaging hinders some of the skincare formulas; many of their skincare formulas contain problematic amounts of fragrance and/or other irritants; exaggerated anti-aging claims.
L'Oreal's extensive makeup collection retains its stature as one of the better selections at the drugstore, though they have stiff competition from Revlon and, in some cases, sister company Maybelline New York. In recent years L'Oreal has made significant strides with foundation shades, powder textures, concealers, and, of course, superlative mascaras that rarely fail to impress. Their lipsticks are excellent and you will find many L'Oreal makeup products have a Lancome counterpart, and that the differences are minorif there are any at all.
L'Oreal's displays in many drugstores reflect better-organized products and shade categories (though testers are still scarce). Given the number of lipsticks they sell, it only makes sense to put them in color families so consumers have a better shopping experience. Their True Match products are also sensibly laid out, but the rest of the foundations aren't as organized, likely due to the smaller selection of shades. Speaking of foundations, L'Oreal has made further strides by offering more that provide sufficient UVA protection. Revlon still has the edge for consistently launching impressive foundations with sunscreen, but at least L'Oreal is (finally) catching up.
The bottom line is that every category of L'Oreals makeup has some winning (and in some cases, benchmark-setting) products.
Unfortunately, despite the brands enormous presence in the beauty industry, L'Oreal's moisturizers and treatment products are a nearly all unremarkable and repetitive. When it comes to moisturizers or serums, just about anything from Dove, Olay, Neutrogena, or Aveeno is preferred. L'Oreal does well with most of their cleansers, along with scrubs and self-tanning products, but given the widespread availability and financial resources of this line, they could be doing so much more. The good news is their makeup has made major strides and now ranks as the best overall color collection at the drugstoreimagine the results if their skin care followed suit.
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.