dr dennis gross ferulic + retinol brightening solution

Our Rating: 4 stars

Reviewed by TIA Community Member on December 30, 2015


by Sandy Borglum

I used Dr. Gross’ Alpha Beta pads for quite a number of years, both the face and the body pads, and I was impressed with the results. So I was excited to try Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution ($88 in the shop). 

I am a Caucasian woman with red hair and freckles. I have fairly normal skin — not overly sensitive, but a little oily in the T-zone. I am now in my early 50s and having issues with my freckles. I really don’t mind them, but some of them have become darker and more noticeable as I’ve aged. The freckles under my eyes look like my mascara has smeared. There are freckles that have grown into “patches” on the left and right sides of my face, near my ears, and on my forehead.  Freckles around my lips accentuate any lip lines I’m developing. And mark-free skin is always younger — and healthier — looking.

I love that the serum has ferulic acid and retinol, to address lines and wrinkles. But, since there are other reviews for this product on the TIA site that address the effects of ferulic acid and retinol, I want to focus on the product’s ability to fade spots and even out skin tone.

Among the list of ingredients is potassium azeloyl diglycinate. This is a derivative of azelaic acid, created for a higher solubility in water and better whitening effects.  It also causes less skin irritation. I recognize a number of botanical extracts that are typically used for lightening skin and reducing the appearance of spots, such as licorice root, bearberry (arctostaphylos uva ursi leaf extract), and arbutin. One of the ingredients I didn’t recognize is morus alba leaf extract. This extract originates from China and is derived from the white mulberry. It’s been used for centuries in their skin care to create the fair, even skin tone they treasure.

Dr. Gross’ solution is also full of antioxidants — obviously ferulic acid, but also salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid), derived from willow bark, as well as salix alba bark extract, also from willow bark. In addition to boosting collagen production and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, antioxidants prevent and reduce age spots.

This product is delivered with a dropper — it’s very watery, meaning it’s slippery and it runs — it’s not thick like a cream or viscous like some serums. The box is difficult to read — the type is very small and is either white on bright orange (on the outside of the box) or bright orange on white (on the inside). The directions on the box say, “use daily AM &/or PM….  To target specific areas…apply with enclosed micro fiber pads….” It doesn’t say how much of the solution to use, and it doesn’t give directions on how to use the pads with the solution. There are no instructions included in the box. So I used about half a dropper for my entire face and neck. I tried the pads, but since it was unclear how to use them, I stopped after a few days.

I detected no particular scent to the solution. The solution appears a little cloudy, actually almost a pale orange or yellow, but not much color otherwise. Both morning and evening, I put the solution in my hands, and then applied it to clean dry skin on my face and neck, even my eyelids. It didn’t sting or irritate my face. It has no particular “feel” to it, either; it feels like water, basically. I had to be careful when first using it to make sure it didn’t drip out of my hands.

I used my phone to take before and after photos in my bathroom, so the lighting couldn’t be controlled as well as I’d liked.  In comparing them, I do see that the freckles under my eyes and on my eyelids do appear lighter. Both in the photos and in my mirror, I see an overall improvement in the evening of my skin tone.

Before and after photos of Sandy's eye area freckles

I’m not fooling myself into thinking a non-prescription topical can work that aggressively to lighten my freckles — I’m sure I’d have to invest in some peel for that. But I do like how my skin looks more even, and I like how my skin feels — smoother and softer. The pores look smaller, the skin looks more refined. And I’ve received compliments on my skin while using this.

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid & Retinol Brightening Solution isn’t cheap: $88.00 for one ounce. I’d like to have more information and instructions on the best way to use this; I’m curious what the pads would have done I have a feeling I could have used less product on my face than I did. If so, the solution would definitely last longer, and that would increase its economic value.

I do see improvement, however. After only 30 days, that’s impressive. I could see myself investing in this solution, but I do want more information about how to best use it before I invest.