Monday, August 17, 2015

Retinol Fixed My Dull, Tired Skin in Just 18 Days | Before & After

Curious about retinol? This one-size-fits-all wonder ingredient can fix all your complexion woes. Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, is a cell communicating ingredient, which means it quite literally tells your skin to behave. After only a few days of use, I knew retinol would be a staple in my beauty arsenal forever. Check out my results and read ahead if you're ready for healthier, younger looking skin.

Before & After: With Makeup

On the day that I started this journey, I was in the middle of one of worst breakouts of my adult life due to an unfortunate mix of stress, airplane travel, and LA’s unforgiving smog and hard water.
My skin was dry underneath my eyes with an almost scaly texture and purple-ish hue, and was dull all over, my nose had been low-grade peeling for months (reason: unknown?!), and my skin was congested with breakouts in my T zone, cheeks, hairline, and chin. Basically, I was a mess. Enter: Retinol. In just two days, my pores became non-existent. After a month, I am happy to share my unfiltered results!

Before & After: No Makeup

Here's the Skinny:

  • I used Renew MD Retinol E 50 and Renew MD Nia Cream for a month.
  • My schedule was generally several days on retinol followed by several days off. I used Retinol a total of 18 days during the month-long period.
  • Because I wanted to show results from the retinol alone, I simplified my skincare routine. The only other skincare products I used were Cetaphil cleanser and my Lucrèce Hydrating Firming Toner for the first two weeks. After that I added in a basic scrub, because I realized all the dead skin buildup from the retinol (gross, I know) was causing me to breakout. If I were you, I would stick to my regular skincare routine while using retinol. You will see results faster.
I applied the retinol and recovery cream to my entire face, neck, and décolletage. I used about 3-4 pumps to cover everything.
For the recovery cream, I used approximately a tablespoon.

My Journey:

Here's your play-by-play of my retinol journey. Guys, I truly woke up like this. No makeup, no photo editing, un-brushed hair, and all. Feel free to zoom in on those pores.
Before: Dull, discolored skin and large pores
Night One 7/15:
The retinol is a velvet-y consistency and smooths onto my face without leaving it feeling greasy or sticky. I am not exaggerating when I say I immediately saw an improvement in my skin. It blurred all my fine lines and enlarged pores, minimized the redness of my breakouts, and matte-ified my skin. I am already hooked on this stuff. I use the retinol three nights in a row, always followed by the recovery cream the next day.

After two uses, my pores have decreased in size dramatically.
By the 4th morning, my skin is becoming itchy like I’m wearing a too-tight wool sweater. I can tell it’s about to start peeling. Time to cool it on the retinol and move into recovery mode for a few days. My acne is almost completely banished, and even the red marks are becoming a thing of the past. The recovery cream feels luxurious at first, but never fully absorbs into my skin. It sits heavy and slick on top of my face. It has been humid here, and I find myself wanting to wash it off by mid-day.
Glowing like an angel after three uses
By 5th morning, I have some red spots on my neck and hairline that look like hickies or burns. My skin is very tight now, like I’m wearing a clay mask -- when I try to animate it, it doesn’t move very far -- but not painful. It also has a heartbeat-like thump pulsating through it, especially near my lips. I should note that my skin is already absolutely luminous in person. I am full on glowing, even at 2 a.m. I take a lot of selfies for Snapchat and then can’t think of any witty captions that would warrant posting them. I settle on texting my mom progress photos.

Skin is becoming irritated. Note the spot near my hairline.
By my 8th night, my skin is red and peeling with some especially raw spots on my neck and cheeks. It’s not painful or really too uncomfortable at all, but it is noticeable, and really starting to look like I have hickies or a rash all over my neck. Yuck. I definitely went too hard the first few days. Even though I haven’t used the Retinol in several days now, the peeling has only gotten more noticeable. Luckily, I’ve been able to stay home, as it really is best to let your skin heal instead of covering it with makeup. Make sure you are wearing sunscreen!

Uhm....Not what it looks like.

Two weeks in: My skin has not gotten irritated at all these past few days. Perhaps I’ve built up a tolerance to the product now. What I have noticed is that when I take my days off retinol, more breakouts on my forehead would emerge, and I am thinking it's actually due to all the sunscreen I’ve been using. Chemical sunscreens always break me out, but I haven’t had a chance to pick up a physical one, and sunscreen is super important when using retinol. By day five of using Retinol in a row again, my skin is starting to get sensitive around the tops of my cheeks - the same itchy feeling as before - and the skin on my nose looks crackly and peely.

I take another 3 day pause from the Retinol after waking up with a super tight, irritated face on the 30th. By the final week, I am able to do five days straight without a problem on my face, but my neck is still much more sensitive and I accidentally give myself irritated patches again.
Oops...I did it again!

After 1 Month:
So thrilled with my results. My skin's texture has made a 180 from bumpy and uneven to smooth and hydrated. Goodbye fine lines, dry patches, and overall dull complexion. My forehead is my only trouble area now: I have a few lingering acne marks from breakouts that haven't yet faded. I have finally figured out it's my dumb shampoo that's making my hairline such a mess.
My skin's texture and moisture levels have improved dramatically.
If you have trouble noticing a difference in fine lines, red spots (scars do take some time to heal), or pore size....check out the amazing difference with makeup on.

After 1 Week

Note the dryness around my eyes and generally dull complexion.
After 2 Weeks
Skin's texture has improved dramatically
After 3 Weeks

Huge increase in moisture and improvement of texture
Final Thoughts:
Whether it's fine lines, enlarged pores, a bumpy complexion, or discoloration that's bothering you, retinol is the perfect ingredient to whip your skin back into shape. It can be very tough on your skin and it's best to stay out of the sun as much as possible to minimize side effects. If you would rather buy something you can use everyday and without a prescription, I would recommend checking out Kate Somerville and Renée Rouleau's retinol products.

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