I get a lot of questions about retinol, which often throws me for a loop. Unlike many bloggers or skincare enthusiasts who have jumped on the trend, and who are raving about it, I have struggled with retinol – something I will share another day.
But in recent times, there’s been so much talk about retinol and Vitamin A going around, I had to dip my toes into the pool.
One of the brands that come very highly rated in this segment of skincare, is Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment. I acquired a bottle one day, and decided to devote some time to figuring it out.
A month into using the product, I’d have given a sigh, a resigned laugh and shrugged it off as yet another product to shelf. Almost 3 months later, I think I understand why it’s so popular.
Why use a retinol?
I do not profess to be an expert in this field, so I cannot answer your questions on retinol. Instead, I’d direct you to Dr. Sam Bunting, a popular UK dermatologist.
Dr. Sam has produced a series of very informative and easy to understand videos on retinoids and retinol, including the why, what and how, so I’d recommend that you watch it, if you want more information. You can find the videos here.
What I can say, based on my understanding of this very technical area, is that retinol or retinoids are an active ingredient that is scientifically and clinically proven to encourage and boost collagen product in the skin, and encourage faster turnover of cell renewal.
The upshot of it all, if you don’t want to get all technical is this – you should expect brighter, clearer, smoother skin. Everything that people look for in an anti-aging product, or if they feel like they need to arrest and slow down the aging process.
Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment – targeting lines and wrinkles
Please note that the packaging has been very recently changed (pictured here is the old packaging), but they promise that the formula remains the same. As this is the one I have right now, my photos and observations will reflect my experience with it.
The Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol treatment serum does not only contain 1% retinol (which is quite a high percentage), it is formulated also with peptides and Vitamin C. Peptides help boost skin repair and collagen production, for healthier, stronger skin. This will also translate to smoother skin.
There are also a whole host of skin soothing ingredients in there, that calm skin, soothes redness and helps to reduce any potential irritation caused by the retinol. Retinol, as you may find out, can be very irritating to skin, and can easily cause redness or even skin to peel.
Be careful when using retinol
A note of warning when using retinol, be it serums or creams.
Use it at night.
Retinol can cause the skin to become sensitive to light and UV rays, so it is only recommended that you use retinol at night. Think of it as something that repairs your skin while you sleep, and don’t be too gung-ho and overzealous.
The second point to note is to always start slow.
Start by using a retinol serum once every 2 days for at least 2 weeks, before moving on to shorter intervals, if you feel comfortable. You can eventually work your way up to daily use, but always pay attention to your skin.
I started out using the Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol treatment once every other day. Then, when I sensed that my skin was tolerating it well, I moved on to using it daily. Now, I use it about 4-5 times a week, depending on how I and my skin feels.
My experience with the Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol
When I studied the Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol, I noticed that it targets wrinkles and fine lines. I often say that that isn’t my key concern. I have been lucky to not have as many fine lines and wrinkles as most women my age, and I am very thankful for it. It’s one less thing to think about 😛
The texture is that of a lightweight lotion, that absorbs easily and quickly into the skin, and does not leave any residue.
I measure the amount I use using Dr. Sam’s finger technique, which is an amount equivalent to the length of your finger tip, measured from finger tip to the first joint. She talks about it in her videos, and I recommend you read it.
Then, I apply on my skin using again, Dr. Sam’s 13 dot technique, for even distribution.
RELATED READING: Have you heard of the 13-dot technique? You haven’t? Don’t be left behind! READ HERE
I apply it on dry skin after cleansing, and then give it a minute to absorb, before moving on to the rest of my skincare.
In the first month or so, I must say that I wasn’t noticing much change in my skin. I suppose I look at my own face so much, I don’t notice minor changes.
But it’s now about 3 months since I started using the Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol almost daily, and I must say that I have seen a difference in my skin tone.
Disclaimer: I do not attribute any improvements 100% to this product. It is a global approach to the products I use and have been using, the way I use them, and a general lifestyle and mindset change that I think is a better way of looking at it. The retinol has helped. But I don’t give it full credit. I was also using the Clinique Vitamin A serum about 3 weeks before I started this product.
The most significant thing I’ve noticed isn’t the smoothening of lines. It was that my skin tone was much more even-toned, and my pigmentation appeared to be a wee bit lighter. My skin appears less reactive to heat and the sun, and it just feels stronger.
I notice the lightening of pigmentation, because that’s where my concealer goes, and I have found myself using less concealer now. I also walk out of the house with just a dab of concealer and no foundation on many occasions, especially when I’m in a hurry. The redness in my skin seems markedly reduced.
Do note however, that I use Vitamin C serums religiously in the day, a high SPF sunscreen and I focus strongly on hydration. I believe it all plays together to arrive at this current situation.
Here’s an example of what I’m trying to explain.
This is not a walking advertisement for Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol. It is just my showing you that I am happier with the condition of my skin TODAY as opposed to 3 years ago. Being comfortable in my skin is a given. But being happier about it is a feeling I have.
As I say, it is attributed to a myriad of products, key ingredients, and lifestyle. But using retinol has helped me with my skin tone, and I appreciate that. It has also taught me that being consistent, is beneficial, and that I am definitely slowly sold on the concept of using a retinol serum (even if not necessarily this Paula’s Choice one)
Use retinol with other moisturizing products to reduce irritation
Because retinol is known to be drying and irritating to skin, I always ensure that I follow up with products that are emollient and moisturizing for my skin.
Aside from the Moisture Sandwich, once the retinol has absorbed into my skin, I usually layer on a basic facial oil and a moisturizing lotion or cream. The ones I favour for now are the REN Omega-3 facial oil and the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion.
I must say however, that I did not experience any irritation, dry skin or flaking/peeling from using the Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol serum. My skin looks and feels the same.
But something about it has changed in the most subtle of ways, for the better.
So I’ll say this. The Paula’s Choice Clinical Retinol treatment is a great product. But you must be consistent, and importantly, patient before noticing any results. And the results might surprise you. This isn’t an instant quick fix.
It is about being the tortoise, plodding along, ensuring you get there in the end.
IN A NUTSHELL
The Paula’s Choice 1% Clinical Retinol Treatment is a retinol serum that is formulated with a large number of skin soothing ingredients to reduce irritation, as well as peptides and Vitamin C. It is a lightweight lotion that absorbs very easily and quickly into the skin. I recommend only using it at night, and to start slow because retinol can irritate the skin. Also, always use a good, SPF50 sunscreen in the day to protect your skin. I did not particularly notice any lightening of lines, although my skin does feel a bit smoother. But the most significant different I noticed was that my skin tone was much more even, less prone to redness, and my pigmentation is marginally lightened. It took me 3 months to notice this, and I attribute it not only to this serum but also to a host of other products, active ingredients and techniques that I use. It is a global effort, and this serum is not a magic pill. But, with a little patience, it will deliver results. I’m happy to repurchase!
Lightweight lotion texture absorbs easily and quickly
Does not irritate or dry my skin (based on my experience)
With consistent and prolonged use I have noticed a more even skin tone and marginally lightened pigmentation
Skin feels smoother overall
A little pricey
May irritate or dry out skin
Results will take a while to show
WHO WILL LIKE THIS: Anyone who wants a retinol serum with a high percentage of retinol but is fairly gentle on skin, Anyone who wants to address problems with lines and wrinkles
PRICE: RM295 | US$58 for 30ml
This is the ingredient list for the Paula’s Choice 1% Clinical Retinol Treatment.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Dimethicone (skin-softening), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Butylene Glycol (hydrating), Isononyl Isononanoate (emollient), Castor Isostearate Succinate (skin-softening ), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Dimethicone Crosspolymer (texture enhancer), PEG-33 (stabilizer), Polysorbate 20 (texture enhancer), Behenyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), PEG-100 Stearate (texture enhancer), Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate (stabilizer), Polymethylsilsesquioxane (texture enhancer), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Retinol (skin-restoring), Ceramide NG (skin-replenishing) , Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin-restoring), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-replenishing ), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (antioxidant plant extracts/skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Arctium Lappa Root Extract (burdock extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Salix Alba Bark Extract (willow bark extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Glycine Soja Sterols (antioxidant/skin-softening ), Lecithin (skin-restoring), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (antioxidant/skin-softening), Sorbitan Laurate (texture enhancer), Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester (skin-soothing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Hydroxyethylcellulose (texture enhancer), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Tribehenin (emollient), Caprylyl Glycol (skin-softening), Ethylhexylglycerin (skin-softening), Pentylene Glycol (hydrating), PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides (emollient), PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer (stabilizer), PEG-10 Phytosterol (fatty acid-based emollient), PEG-8 Dimethicone (skin-softening), PEG-14 (texture enhancer), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (texture enhancer), Arachidyl Glucoside (texture enhancer), Arachidyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Sclerotium Gum (texture enhancer), Carbomer (gel-based texture enhancer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Benzoic Acid (preservative).
Have you tried the iconic Paula’s Choice Retinol serum?
It’s taken me a while, but I got there! LOL! I’m glad I gave this a shot. I never really held out any hope that my pigmentation could be addressed by topical products, but apparently, I can still be surprised! 😀
4 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
shermie tee says
Your skin texture in year 2016 was actually look more stronger n healthier.
Paris B says
Thanks for the feedback 🙂 I guess photos aren’t quite as accurate a representation of real life as I thought it might be 😀
This was a great post, especially coming off of our little convo previously. I really appreciate how you’re always willing to say, “I don’t know, I’m not an expert,” and still having some great info to share. With retinol it seems those who experience the most extreme of changes are those who are specifically targeting acne with tretinoin, since I think any reduction of acne is pretty amazing. The fading of fine lines and wrinkles seems a bit harder to notice on a day-to-day basis.
Since our last chat, I’ve stopped the TO retinoid and started trying out Herbivore’s Bakuchiol (plant-based retinol alternative) serum, of which I got a sample size for free. It’s only been a few days, but my skin is noticeably smoother and most of the closed comedones have disappeared, though there’s still the hyper pigmentation to worry about. It’s going to take a while to repair all the damage the TO retinoid did to my skin, which is very unnerving when I’m supposed to be visiting family in Malaysia for the first time in two years in September, but I feel so much better already. If you hadn’t told me of your similar experience in breaking out with the TO retinoid, I might still be suffering the so-called purging! Thank you 🙂
Paris B says
Hi Kelly, thank you for your input! I do think that someone in my position shouldn’t mislead others with information that might not be as accurate as I think it is, or think ourselves any more an expert than a trained doctor! It is how many misconceptions are spread. Retinol really got its reputation as a game-changer from those who use it to treat acne, but you do need months of use to see any effect on lines and wrinkles, and only then, if the problem is severe. Still, I don’t write it off as a good ingredient to use. It just might be too strong for everyone. Bakuchiol is the ingredient of the moment. We will be seeing many brands use it as part of their product range, and it does fascinate me. I will have to try some of them some day!
I’m glad to know your skin is healing better now. Just keep at what you’re doing to help your skin heal. And I hope you enjoy your visit here in Malaysia! Get your sunscreen ready! 😀