SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 is an excellent choice if you want to use a retinol product to prevent aging and help get rid of acne. 0.5 stands for 0.5% of the total product formula. That may not sound like a lot, but it actually is. This stuff is potent. Even at 0.5% of the total product, that is actually quite a lot. The higher the concentration of retinol, the higher the potential for irritation and reactions like flaking and dry skin. So definitely introduce this slowly, or start with the 0.25% concentration first for awhile. Even 0.25% retinol is actually higher than most cosmetic retinol formulas.
Also be aware that when you start to use retinol, your skin may purge out any impurities and clogged pores you may have. So sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. But the purging phase should last no longer than 6 weeks or so. If it gets beyond that and you are still seeing a lot of new breakouts, then it may be time to try something else.
SkinMedica Retinol Complex products are really nicely formulated lotion-style serums. They are slightly creamy and have a pale yellow colour. The ingredients list is great, and contains lots of antioxidants and moisturizing components that help protect against signs of aging (such as vitamin E, squalane, glycerin, ceramides, niacinamide, magnolia bark extract, and peptides to name a few). Although this is definitely not moisturizing enough to use alone, it requires some sort of cream/lotion/oil over top. It is alcohol free, fragrance free, silicone free, paraben free, and cruelty free.
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycine Soja Oil, Niacinamide, Polyacrylate-13, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Retinol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-8, Dunaliella Salina Extract, Magnolia Grandiflora Bark Extract, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Ceramide 3, Bisabolol, Phytosterols, Squalene, Tocopheryl Acetate, Oryza Sativa Bran Cera, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Palmitate, Laureth-23, Trideceth-6 Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide, Dicaprylyl Ether, Lauryl Alcohol, Polyisobutene, Dextran, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin
I have found this product fairly difficult to tolerate on my sensitive skin, so I don’t use it more than a couple times per week. If I use it too much my skin gets peely and flaky. I made the mistake of layering it with a BHA product and that was a bad idea. I would advise against using acids and retinol at the same time unless your skin is super tough. It can cause a lot of extra and unnecessary irritation.
That being said, I have seen definite improvement in my skin since I started using this. I was seeing the start of the “elevens” between my eyebrows as well as some forehead creases and they are totally gone now after several months of use. I have also seen a great deal fewer breakouts (although that is also in part to my skincare product selection). My skin is also less oily throughout my T-zone, which is great since my nose can produce an impressive quantity of oil. I used to have to blot my T-zone by lunchtime every day, but I can usually go until mid-afternoon now unless its a particularly hot day.
I highly recommend this product (or the gentler version) if you are looking to use retinol. However, it is a good idea to either start slowly, once or twice per week. Or begin with other over-the-counter cosmetic products that contain smaller quantities of retinol so that you can get used to it before switching to this dermatologist-grade “cosmeceutical” product.
Also available in a gentler formula at a concentration of 0.25 for $62USD (also available at Dermstore or Apothica), or in a stronger formula with a concentration of 1.0 for $93USD (Dermstore or Apothica).