philosophymiracle worker miraculous anti-aging retinoid pads and solution
60 application for $75
Expert Rating
Community Rating (5)Write a Review
Expert Reviews
Community Reviews
Brand Overview
Expert Reviews

We need to state up front how ridiculous the packaging concept for this product is. You get 60 pads along with a 1.7-ounce bottle of solution. The directions tell you to pour the entire contents of the solution into the jar of pads, steeping all of them at once. Why philosophy didn’t just do that ahead of time is a good question, but it may be because they wanted to keep the air-sensitive ingredients in the solution stable. The thing is, once you’ve soaked the pads and toss the bottle, you’re exposing the delicate ingredients to air and light with each use. The solution is a form of silicone with solvents that aid penetration; these solvents have an oxygenating effect when mixed with water, so it’s a good thing this is a non-aqueous product. Then again, we don’t know what happens when these solvents contact skin and mix with its water content, but, theoretically, it could prompt oxygenation that leads to free-radical damage.

philosophy includes a type of retinol they refer to as HPR, an acronym for hydroxypinacolone retinoate. The company maintains that this form of retinol boosts surface cell turnover rate without irritation. The lack of irritation is the big sell here; lots of consumers concerned with mitigating signs of aging know that a retinoid (e.g., topical prescription drug Renova) is a better option than a cosmetic, but that tolerance is an issue for many, and for some it means that retinoids are best avoided.

Does philosophy have the answer for those whose skin cannot tolerate traditional retinoids? Possibly, but you’ll have to take their word for it because there is no substantiated research proving that hydroxypinacolone retinoate is a viable option for treating wrinkled, sun-damaged skin. However, there is research demonstrating that other forms of retinoate, such as retinyl retinoate and retinyl gallate 6, improve wrinkles and enhance healthy collagen production without notable irritation (Sources: The British Journal of Dermatology, August 2009, Epublication; and Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, June 2008, pages 6387–6393). Of course, there are volumes of research attesting to retinol’s ability to improve aging skin in numerous ways, but I suppose simply touting “plain” retinol in this product wouldn’t make it seem like such a miracle worker.

Getting back to the ingredient hydroxypinacolone retinoate; the only information pertaining to its efficacy comes from Grant Industries, the company that sells this ingredient to cosmetics brands. Their sole study on the effectiveness and claims for this retinoid involved five people, which is not nearly a large enough sample to declare that this retinoid is the one to beat (Source: http://grantinc.com/cosmetics/active_series/granactive_rd-101.php). It’s a leap of faith (a lo-o-o-ong leap) that the retinoid in miracle worker is going to work as claimed. There are antioxidants in the formula to support the company’s anti-aging claims, but if you follow directions and pour the solution over the pads, you’re rendering both the retinoid and the antioxidants less effective with each use—and without those ingredients, this product won’t be of much use to anyone.

Last Updated:12.31.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

miracle worker miraculous anti-aging retinoid pads deliver the ultimate in skin confidence, revealing youthful-looking, radiantly luminous skin in one easy step. these miraculous multitaskers diminish the appearance of wrinkles, dramatically improve skin discoloration and promote flawless clarity, while inspiring a stunning healthy glow. this fresh-pour elixir is formulated with hpr next-generation retinoid technology that helps maximize skin's rejuvenation potential, while minimizing the risk of irritation commonly associated with traditional retinols. loaded with antioxidants, skin conditioners and soothers, these one-step, multitasking miracle pads deliver miraculous results that can be seen in days.


Ethyl Trisiloxane, Methyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Methyl Perfluoroisobutyl Ether, Ethoxydiglycol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Hexyldecanol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Tocopherol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Bisabolol, Cetylhydroxyproline Palmitamide, Stearic Acid, Laureth-4, Cyclopentasiloxane, BHT

Brand Overview

philosophy At-A-Glance

Strengths: Relatively inexpensive; some of the best products are fragrance-free; very good retinol products; selection of state-of-the-art moisturizers; innovative skin-lightening product.

Weaknesses: Irritating and/or drying cleansers; average to problematic scrubs; at-home peel kits far more gimmicky than helpful; several products contain lavender oil; several products include irritating essential oils; the majority of makeup items do not rise above average status.

Believe in miracles. That's the "lifestyle" branding statement philosophy makes, which is an approach that is decidedly different from their former positioning, which encompassed family values and spirituality along with a dash of department-store élan and endearingly clever quips. The miracle angle may grab your attention, but the company is also quick to point out that its history is steeped in providing products to dermatologists and plastic surgeons worldwide (so, in addition to miracles, philosophy has a serious side, too). Although its heritage may have included providing clinically oriented products to doctors, we have yet to see or hear of any medical professional retailing philosophy products. And that's a good thing because, by and large, most of philosophy products are resounding disappointments. Moreover, several products, including almost all of their sunscreens, contain one or more known skin irritants. We would be extremely suspicious of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who recommended such products to their patients, and even more so if they actually believed some of the more farfetched claims philosophy makes.

Interestingly, when you shop this line at department stores or at the cosmetics boutique Sephora, what you'll notice is the preponderance of food- and drink-scented bath products, all in vivid colors or cutely boxed for gift-giving. It seems that somewhere along the way, the company decided to promote these nose-appeal products while downplaying their more serious-minded, simply packaged skin care. Perhaps the body lotions and bubble baths have become philosophy's bread and butter. Given the hit-or-miss nature of their facial-care products, that's not surprising. Then again, they've also heavily promoted their anti-aging-themed Miracle Worker products...

So what's to like if you're into the vibe philosophy puts out? Well, this is still a line with some well-formulated staples, including an AHA product, some retinol options, and a handful of state-of-the-art moisturizers. The products that get the most promotion at the counter are the ones you should avoid, such as the at-home peels, scrubs, pads, and anti-acne products. However, the somewhat confusing, conflicting image philosophy presents shouldn't keep you from considering their best products—but it's not a lifestyle brand in the sense that using the entire line will somehow bring you a more joyful existence, or significantly improved skin. The philosophy line is now owned Coty, a cosmetics brand primarily known for their fragrances. Their acquisition of philosophy is their first major foray into a widely-distributed skin care brand.

For more information about philosophy, call (800) 568-3151 or visit www.philosophy.com.

Note: philosophy opts to use lowercase letters for every product they sell, so the listings below are simply following suit.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.

Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!