Pros: Reasonable price, easy application, some results
Cons: Lack of adequate information on packaging...exaggerated claims?
My darlings, I feel I am slipping on a white lab coat, arming myself with a magnifying glass and mounting my soapbox. What started as a simple product review has led me to an obsession with the cosmetics industry and the options available for safe, healthy, affordable, and honest skin care.
I am not a scientist, a dermatologist or a professional researcher. I am woman with a wrinkle and a desire to find the truth about aging and all the worthy comrades capable of assisting me with this battle.
In today's skin care market, you have no doubt noticed that there is an overwhelming selection of anti-aging products. From lotions, serums and masks to toners, moisturizers and cleansers...all claiming to be "the one" to rid you of fine lines...to moisturize, texturize, illuminate. Some have Retinol, some Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Q10, multi vitamin formulations, and botanicals.
I was puzzled as to what I should try, but in the end, as I have come to value so many of their other products, I decided to try St. Ives Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum.
What is Retinol
Retinol is the purest form of Vitamin A, a substance believed to improve the appearance of the skin by repairing and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin at the epidermis level.
Retinol is gentler on the skin than Retin-A though it too can cause skin to feel sensitive and irritated. With long term use of Retinol you should expect to see improved clarity and tone, and over the long term a reduction in the size and appearance of those nasty lines and wrinkles.
For the past two weeks I have dedicated myself to an exhaustive search of the web to unearth everything I could about the use of Retinol and other anti-aging products. The pros and cons, rants and raves have been enough to drive me absolutely batty at times. Jamieson Vitamins, a Canadian company, puts out an all natural night cream containing 10,000 I.U of Vitamin A, the highest available without a prescription, and it warns to avoid use on the delicate area around the eye.
Through countless, fascinating sites on dermatology, beauty care, and those selling products created from their own patented formulas, I have come up rather empty handed on exactly how much Retinol is necessary, save that one bit of information, and for exactly how long one should expect to use it to reap the maximum results.
Not to mention I have subjected myself to a future onslaught of wrinkles by squinting away at the computer screen. All for the love of you my darlings and my own insatiable thirst for the die-hard truth.
I am on a quest.
After using the St. Ives Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum, and armed with a great deal more information after my most thorough of searches, I realize that I am greatly disappointed in this company, the makers of my favourite Apricot Scrub. A great deal of product information is lacking on the packaging and the web site. I can tell you there is Retinol but I have no idea how much. As the directions tell you to apply the serum to the under-eye area that would be most valuable to know. I can only hope and assume that the amount of Retinol in this product is safe enough for delicate tissue, but that would logically lead us to assume that, by all rights, it does not contain the maximum amount to achieve the type of results they are claiming.
What about those claims
St. Ives proclaims you will see dramatic results in only two weeks, using a capsule of serum nightly during that time. In fact, you should see a 43% reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. What grabbed my attention and propelled me to purchase this was the promise that it would also increase my skin?s clarity and reduce the appearance of large pores (which I have), leaving my skin with a youthful glow. It also claims to reduce the appearance of age spots, but at the moment I am joyfully lacking any of those.
To be honest, I did see an improvement in the tone and texture of my face. Honestly, I cannot confirm that it was a 43% improvement, but my skin was firmer and clearer. Foundation was easier to apply and blend over the new smoother skin. I see no difference in the appearance of the fine lines under my eyes however.
But that point takes us back to the information provided on the package.
As a newcomer to the world of anti-aging remedies I had virtually no idea what I should do once I completed the two-week treatment. What I know now, and what the box does not tell you is that most Retinol treatments may take up to six months to see maximum results. Once you stop using Retinol the results will slowly start slipping away. This is not a one-time-cure-all-miracle solution.
The condition of your skin will also affect the performance of this product. If you have healthy skin obtained from eating a well balanced diet containing all the nutrients your skin requires, drink plenty of water, and protect yourself from the sun, your skin will be better able to absorb the Retinol and you will see better results than someone who is stressed, eats Fritos for breakfast, and skips the sunscreen.
Other Points to Ponder:
~ Using a product that contains AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) may help prepare the epidermis to better accept Retinol and other treatments.
~ Always, always, always use a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, at least with an SPF 15. Retinol is photodegradable (it breaks down if subjected to sunlight).
And more importantly Retinol can be photosensitizing...if you do not protect your treated skin you will be subjecting the newly exposed layers to the harmful affects of the sun and can actually create more damage. You will increase the chances for additional skin irritation and expose yourself to an increased risk of skin cancer. 95-98% of all skin damage is caused by the sun, do not take this point lightly.
~ The instructions do tell you to use this at night...now you know why (see above)
~ DO NOT USE RETINOL IF YOU ARE PREGNANT. I am very concerned, and downright angry that this information is not included on the packaging. Like a good, trusting soul I began using the St. Ives Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum without doing prior research. Had I been pregnant I may have caused damage to my unborn child. Always consult your physician before using any such product.
?Supplementation with vitamin A over 6,000 IU/day is associated with birth defects, and pregnant women should avoid any vitamin A treatments or supplements beyond what is contained in prenatal vitamins.?
A tour through the ingredients:
Please note: All definitions are taken from a very informative site, www.paulaschoice.com
With the jar of St. Ives Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum you will find 14 fish-shaped capsules. The top is twisted off easily at the neck, and the serum spreads easily over the face. I was struck by the silky feel and the immediate softness I felt. This was due to the presence of the first two ingredients on our list:
cyclomethicone and dimethicone crosspolymera: These are silicones. Silicone is a substance derived from silica (sand is a silica). The unique fluid properties of silicone give it a great deal of slip and in its various forms it can feel like silk on the skin, impart emolliency, and be a water-binding agent that holds up well, even when skin becomes wet.
Retinol: Vitamin A
Sambucus Nigra Extract: elderberry. May have anti-inflammatory properties on skin, though the evidence for this is mostly anecdotal.
Sunflower Oil: An emollient plant oil similar to all nonvolatile plant oils.
Matricaria Extract: chamomile: An herb that has been shown to have anti-irritant and soothing properties.
Primula veris extract: Derived from primrose or cowslip plants. It has no known benefit for skin.
Acrylates Copolymer: A film former. Includes ingredients such as PVP and acrylates that are used in hairstyling products to hold hair in place. When used in very small amounts in skin-care products, they can leave a smooth feel on skin and are good water-binding agents. They can be skin sensitizers for some individuals.
Propylene Glycol: A clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid that is an aliphatic alcohol compound...All the glycols help enhance the effectiveness and penetration of active or other ingredients in a formula, and have water-binding and moisturizing properties.
BHT: Butylated hydroxytoluene, a synthetic, potent antioxidant.
The Bottom Line
My greatest disappointment with this product lies in the lack of information and proper warnings. I simply expected more from a company I have grown to trust. I did experience some redness and irritation for the first three days, but this did, indeed, subside. I will also warn you to avoid using any sort of scrub, it is incredibly painful, a mistake I wish I had not made.
Do I recommend it? That is a very good question and I am still troubled as to what I should tell you. After two weeks I did see an improvement in my skin?s tone and clarity, and my rather predominant pores did seem tighter. There is, of yet, no noticeable difference on the fine lines and that one wrinkle. But my research has shown that this is a long-term project with a great deal of other factors coming into play.
This product is not moisturizing, so you will need to use an appropriate moisturizer geared towards your skin type. And again, only use this at night and use a sunscreen.
Above all else, if you decide to use this product, or any other containing Retinol go into it with your eyes wide open. Do your research, consult a dermatologist, and ensure that you are nourishing your skin from the inside to better reap the benefits of any topical treatment.
And my darlings, try to resist the influence of that monstrous public relations machine, beautifully adept at telling us everything we want to hear. Hang onto your wallet as you travel through this vast and troubling land of smoke and mirrors...tread carefully and do not forget to bring your magnifying glass.
You might be amazed at what you find.