Reviewed by Nisha
Dr. Dennis Gross is at again - concocting anti-aging potions using a fusion of rather uncommon and potent skincare ingredients. His latest elixir, Ferulic Acid and Retinol Brightening Solution ($88 in the shop) combines a buffered retinol to smooth wrinkles and lines, with ferulic acid, a supreme antioxidant, to ward off free radicals which cause premature aging. Like his Active Vitamin D Serum-Oil, the Brightening Solution is elegantly formulated with natural actives to be a multi-tasking complexion booster.
An Rx-strength retinoid has been a regular part of my skincare regimen since I was first given a prescription after a devastating bout of adult acne in my late 20s and I generally use it for a couple of months twice a year. I've also tried many non-Rx retinol products and while I've liked some better than others, Dr. Gross’ Ferulic Acid and Retinol Brightening Solution is by far superior to any other over the counter retinol product I have used. While my skin tolerates retinol fairly well, I generally will apply a retinol every two nights to avoid any peeling often caused by retinol. However, I applied Dr. Gross’ solution all over my face, neck, décolleté and any excess product to the backs of my hands, every night, for a month. I never experienced any peeling and could have easily applied it twice daily as indicated on the usage instructions (I just prefer not to use retinol during the day).
Of course, as a dermatologist, Dr. Gross couldn’t resist throwing in a bevy of other ingredients to complete his Solution. An intriguing ingredient is disodium lauriminodipropionate tocopheryl phosphates, two main complexes in a derivative of vitamin E used to treat acne, scars and rosacea. It also works wonderfully to prevent dry skin and may very well be the magic bullet in the formulation to prevent the usual peeling side effects caused by retinol. There is potassium azeloyl diglycinate , a gentler form of azelaic acid, which also reduces cathelicidins. Azelaic acid works as an anti-acne agent (along with salicylic acid), bleaching agent, and to a lesser extent, as a treatment for rosacea. It also functions as an anti-bacterial and keratolytic, returning any abnormal growths on the skin back to normal. There are also a slew of botanicals extracts known for their skin-lightening powers, including bearberry, arbutin, licorice root, mulberry and hexylresorcinol. Willow bark minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores and also serves as an anti-inflammatory.
I’m uncertain as to why Dr. Gross calls the product a “solution” as it is serum-like in consistency. The treatment comes in a dark bottle to protect product integrity and is dispensed via a dropper. The solution is also accompanied with microfiber pads (which I didn’t use) to target specific areas. The clear liquid absorbs rapidly, with no traces of stickiness or greasiness or fragrance. The serum is easily gentle enough for use by all skin types, even those who have never used a retinol before. In fact, this is an excellent starter retinol product as well as a maintenance product. The combination of retinol and ferulic is brilliant (also found in his Active Vitamin D Serum-Oil but in a very different formulation and in much smaller concentrations). Moreover, as Marta has noted, products with ferulic acid aren’t easy to come by. Add to that an abundance of skin beneficial ingredients and you have a potent multi-active product that, over time, gently delivers on its promise of smooth skin and reduced hyperpigmentation.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Ethoxydiglycol, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Arbutin, Morus Alba Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Hexylresorcinol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Quercetin, Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates, Ubiquinone, Phospholipids, Disodium EDTA, PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer, Urea, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol