I recently turned 40. Due largely to my total aversion to the sun and my complete obsession with skin care, not to mention some very fortunate genetics, I have quite good skin. Thus far, I've only just begun to see slight signs of aging around my eye area, and still have pretty good texture and little to no discoloration to my skin.
That being said, I did turn 40, and I've suddenly become preoccupied with preserving the state my skin is in and halting any further signs of aging. I was considering going with a prescription-strength retinoid...until one of my coworkers went that route. Seeing her red, flaky face convinced me that I just don't have the patience to deal with that breaking-in period. I want my skin to look better, not like a victim of leprosy. Although she eventually acclimated to her product, I got pretty turned off by the entire process.
Enter retinal. Supposedly, retinAL is the step between retinOL (what you get at the drugstore and in many HE beauty products) and the prescription-strength retinoic acid (Retin-A, Differin, etc.) It is stronger than OTC retinoid products, yet doesn't require a prescription. It also doesn't cause the irritation, redness and flakiness associated with retinoic acid. Although the results are not as fast or dramatic as those found with prescription products, neither are the side effects. Could this be the perfect product for me?
Avene Retrinal is a retinal cream sold in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. It is suggested that users begin at the lower strength to determine the effectiveness of the product and minimize the chance of irritation, then move up to the higher strength as their skin allows.
I began using the 0.05% cream approximately 30 days ago. The cream itself is dispensed from a tube, is thick and peach-colored, and is lightly scented. It spreads fairly easily, although I do have to work it a little more than I'd like to get it to spread evenly across my entire face. The first few times I used it, I felt it wasn't spreading well at all, but as I began to see the exfoliating effects of the product it began to apply more easily and sink in more quickly. While I initially felt it necessary to apply moisturizer on top of the cream, within a week I found this was no longer necessary, although I continued with my eye cream. I was also told by the aesthetician who sold it to me that it is, indeed, okay to wear moisturizer over this product...it will not dilute the effectiveness. Just let it soak in for a couple of minutes first, then continue with your regular moisturizer if you like.
For the first week or two, it was a rocky road. Although I had previously been using a 14% glycolic acid lotion on my skin, I still had some minor peeling for the first week or so, although no redness or irritation. The peeling mainly occurred around my mouth, and was especially obvious at the end of the day. I was able to exfoliate it off with a washcloth and moisturize it away, but it returned each day. Of course, YMMV, as my skin was pretty well conditioned due to the glycolic acid usage. Depending on how dry or oily your skin is and how well-conditioned your skin is to exfoliating ingredients, you may see more or less peeling. I do have dry skin, despite it being used to the glycolics, so maybe that was the problem.
My skin also had some pretty good breakouts for the first 10-14 days. This really freaked me out, as I almost never break out. They were only small red bumps and whiteheads (no nasty cysts), but there were enough of them concentrated around my cheeks and jawline to alarm me quite a bit. However, I hung in there and rode out the storm, and the breakouts diminished around day 14 and disappeared completely around day 21.
So are there any actual benefits to this cream, you ask? Has it been worth the breakouts and peeling? Why yes, it has! After just 30 days, I have seen a great improvement in the clarity and tone of my skin. My skin looks fresher and more radiant. It's clearer, with fewer discolorations. It's softer, with a finer texture. The fine lines around my eyes have not really diminished (these things take time), but the area seems plumper and more refreshed. It seems as if my under-eye circles have diminished somewhat. This product has done more for my skin in 30 days than my glycolic acid lotion (which I was very happy with) has done in the last year. Gotta love that!
I have to give a big YES to the Avene Retrinal so far. Although it's still early in the game, I feel the improvements in my skin are well worth the $56 price tag and difficulty in locating the product (it can only be found online and in select dermatologist's and aesthetician's offices). Well worth the effort, in my opinion. Of course, it's imperative to wear a high-SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day while using this product, so please be careful if you are going out in the sun--better yet, do what I do and just avoid sunlight as if you are a vampire.
I will continue with this tube, and plan to go up to the 0.1% next, at which point I will submit an updated review. If you've used it, let me know--I'd love to know what you think!
This product was purchased by me at my own personal expense.