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OK, right off the bat, I can say this: I've had no breakouts or any other issue while using the Astara Radiance Renewal Intense Moisturizer ($54/1.3 oz).
That really surprises me, and I must admit that my 60-something skin looks better even after just one month of use. I read that this product is primarily for dry skin; mine tends to be a combination — dry in the cheek area and oily in the T-zone. The fact that I was able to use this product on my entire face without experiencing any issues made it a more pleasant experience for me.
I received this product while I was living in Texas and began using it there, but I've since been transplanted to Illinois where my folks are, and this is where it's given me better results than I could have hoped for considering the constant snow storms and dry, frigid weather. I have found that this product helps my skin maintain the perfect degree of balanced moisture, which is surprising since I've used it in two very different environments. I have noticed a huge improvement in the texture of my skin and evening out of my skin tone with virtually no breakouts. I'm impressed, to say the least.
It’s a deep moisturizing cream, so it kept my skin well-nourished and hydrated. It didn't feel overly heavy, but I did opt to wear it mostly at night. This product seriously improved my dry patches, and I did not experience any skin breakouts during the course of the trial. I didn’t notice any scent, nor did I find it to be greasy. However, I elected not to wear it with makeup due to my oil-prone T-zone.
I did read Phyllis' January 2014 review prior to writing mine, and I saw that she was unable to use the product anywhere near her eyes as it made them water and burn. I did not experience anything similar to this, but what works for some may have adverse or unappealing effects for others. I generally had a very pleasant experience with the product overall, though I found that it was a bit too heavy for me to wear during the day under makeup.
Phyllis also noted that this product contains some undesirable ingredients, which made her experience more negative than mine due to her concern that the product may potentially be harmful. I didn't do any in-depth research, so I can’t speak authoritatively on her findings, but I did look into what she was referring to. Paula's Choice delves into the controversy of one of the moisturizer's ingredients contained, retinyl palmitate, and cites these statements from the National Toxicology Program (NTP):
“There is no conclusive evidence to indicate the combination of retinyl palmitate and UV radiation causes increased rates of skin cancer.”
“Although there are no published human studies on the potential of retinyl palmitate or other retinoids to cause cancer, the commentary concludes that observations from decades of clinical practice do not support the notion that retinyl palmitate in sunscreen causes or promotes skin cancer. First, dermatologists routinely prescribe various forms of topical and oral retinoids to treat a number of skin conditions (e.g., acne, psoriasis and photoaging).”
However, it is noted as an irritant of concern under the classification for skin, eyes or lungs, according to the EU Classification and Labelling Inventory.
I don’t know if the amount of retinyl palmitate present is enough to warrant steering clear of this product altogether — you be the judge. I'll do what I know best and review the product according to my point of view. For me, it's a winner based on performance, and I had no adverse effects whatsoever while using it. Again, I only used it at night before bedtime. Still, given Phyllis' review, I feel that the controversial ingredient list does somewhat skew my rating of the product. But in the end, there is one thing I cannot deny, and that's how well the product performed overall.