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Over the counter retinol products
"Over the counter retinol products" is one of the most frequently used search phrases by Truth In Aging readers. Although "over the counter" seems a rather quaint term in the age of one-click shopping, I have reviewed a sample of retinol creams that can be easily bought without a prescription. I must say, researching non-prescription retin-A products, proved to be a disappointing process and I rejected many, mostly because of all the other nasty things they contain. In the end. DDF came out best, followed by Boots Restore & Renew. Here's why.
Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0. I looked at Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 first because it is reputedly the strongest non-prescription retinol cream available. Unfortunately, there is not much else to commend it. One of things I don't like about it is that it contains BHT; a preservative used in embalming fluid, it was banned in baby foods by the FDA but is otherwise widely used in foods and cosmetics. It is banned in all food in the UK based on studies that it is carcinogenic (other studies suggest it might combat cancer - so at best BHT seems controversial).
Then there is polyacrylamide, a controversial ingredient due to contamination concerns and the presence of Acrylamide, a known toxin.. It can be absorbed via broken skin. As if that wasn't enough, Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 also contains methylisothiazoinone, which is supposedly a cytoxin and a cause of allergic reactions.
Boots No 7 Restore & Renew. Phew! After weeks of confusion, for which I mostly blame the Boots US website, I can finally confirm that Restore & Renew is more or less the same as the original British version Protect & Perfect. You wouldn't know that from the website though; it still hasn't been updated. I have a reader, who sent in the ingredients details, to thank. Anyway, the good news is that Restore & Renew has, in addition to retinyl palmitate, matrixyl 3000 (believed to be a very good anti-oxidant). Apart from a couple of parabens that I'd prefer to go without, this is a good value cream that is pretty effective (a decent clinical trial in the UK backs this up) and, so far, I've been getting noticeable results.
Boots Time Dimensions Rejuvenating Day Moisturizer. Another Boots product with retin and matrixyl 3000. The matrixyl appears at the very end of a very long list, so I'm doubtful that there is very much in Time Dimensions. It also contains polyacrylamide, a possible toxin (see Skinceuticals, above).
DDF Retinol Energizing Moisturizer. This has a triple retin formula of retinol, retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate (the Boots products only have the palmitate). In addition, there is Co-enzyme CQ10 (an anti-oxidant), various oil and seed extracts, milk peptide, vitamin E, sodium hyaluronate, vitamin C and two other anti-oxidants. Again, I wish that there were fewer silicones and parabens. Overall, this is both powerful on the retinol front and confined to mostly useful ingredients. The one thing I don't like about it is the use of DMDM hydantoinin, a possible irritant. That, plus the strong shot of retinol, may make this cream too tough for the sensitive of skin.
Neova Retinol ME Although promisingly available in two strengths (15% and 30%), I largely rejected Neova Retinol ME because it contains sodium polyacrylate. Powerfully absorbent, this is used in disposable diapers and was banned from tampons after being linked to toxic shock syndrome. It also contains diisooctyl adipate, a suspected carcinogen.