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Over the counter retinol products

August 18, 2013 Reviewed by Marta 9 Comments

"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.

Arcona Vitamin A Complex Repair ($68). Arcona has reformulated its retinol serum, streamlining it to an unadulterated dose of the key actives. There is retinol, a vitamin A derivative that exfoliates the skin and helps to diminish wrinkles, plus retinyl palmitate, which is easily absorbed by the skin and once it is there is converted into Retinol. Retinyl palmitate is gentler for sensitive skins than retinol, making this a good combination. The exfoliating force of these retinoids is given a further boost by glycolic acid. Fructooligosaccharides is a favorite ingredient of Arcona and it helps build collagen and retain moisture. Glucosamine HCI assists in maintaining the elasticity and integrity of the connective tissue and is an anti-inflammatory.

BRAD Biophotonic Ultra Elastin Lift ($210). If you want retinol as part of a comprehensive anti-aging serum, then look no further than this high-quality multitasker. BRAD believes in keeping beauty routines simple and this complex formula does it all. Ultra Elastin Lift firms the skin while improving skin tone. Retinyl palmitate gives a boost to glycolic acid and lactic acid. Borage and flax will tone down redness and a ton of hydrating ingredients counteract dryness, such as avocado, sodium hyaluronate, cocoa butter and tamanu. Read the full review.

Osmosis Correct ($46). An excellent and effective product that fades wrinkles and smooths the skin whilst being relatively gentle. The secret is that niacinamide backs up the action of trans retinal. Plus there are anti-aging heavy hitters such as copper peptides and epidermal growth factor that repair wrinkles, as well as R-Lipoic acid. A great product at any price and very good value at less than 50 bucks. Read the full review.

Skinfinite Platinum PM Cream 1% Retinol ($79 in the shop). Truth In Aging reviewer, Mark, said: “I didn’t experience any redness, irritation or flaking (as I did initially with retin-A, even with cautious use) and I do attribute that to gradual use, and most likely the improvement in the delivery system of the product.  It left my skin smooth and even toned. Interestingly, instead of drying my skin out, it actually hydrated it thanks to several moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, almond oil, beta-glucan (D), and ceramide-2.” Skinfinite says its retinol is entrapped in molecular microsponges that enhances skin penetration in a time-release delivery system. Another reviewer, found it too strong to use more than once a week. Read the full review.

Prana Reverse A ($48 in the shop). An excellent retinol that does a great job of bringing down sun-damaged skin. If you have stubborn areas of aging skin or hyperpigmentation and want a relatively effective over-the-counter retinal, then Prana Reverse A is worth trying out. Reverse A gets my vote for its natural ingredients and slew of anti-agers. Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant and produces energy in cells and I especially like l-Carnosine, which flushes toxins from the body and may extend the Hayflick Limit (the number of times cells reproduce themselves). NaPCA crops up in a few of Prana’s products and sounds a little like hyaluronic acid (which is also here) in that it Na-PCA it pulls water out of the air to moisturize the skin.  With botanical sage, horsetail and chamomile, Reverse A also has calming effects and may help with broken capillaries. The vitamin A is rounded out with Vitamin B5, E and C. Read the full review.

See also:

  • January 14, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Melissa, I partially agree with you but there are concerns about this ingredient - I have amended the post slightly and linked to a longer article on polyacrylamide.

  • January 14, 2012

    by Melissa

    Error in your review:

    Polyacrylamide IS NOT a neurotoxin. The monomer acrylamide is a neurotoxin, but once it polymerizes into polyacrylamide, it is harmless. A similar polymer is used in diapers and the potting soil gel.

  • October 19, 2010

    by Gary

    As bad as some of the ingredients in these products can be;it seem that you are a bit too obsessive about them. You will scarcely find any health products to be perfect. When you get medications they give you a list of possible side affects.You can chose to accept them or reject them. If you apply this to all areas of your life you will not find much to eat or drink etc..

  • November 3, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Thank you Serenity for throwing down the gauntlet. I went back over as much research as I could find and you are quite wrong. There is a plethora of evidence that BHT causes cancer - although most of the trials used high doses. I was wrong about the UK banning it, however. <br />
    My new post on BHT is here <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>

  • November 1, 2008

    by Serenity

    <p>I have to agree with the "absurd skin care" article...there is no evidence that BHT causes cancer. It is a common food additive, and as you noted, there are plenty of studies suggesting it may actually prevent cancer--so what was the purpose of slamming the Skinceuticals product because it contains BHT?? Same with neurotoxins...Botox has been widely used all over the world for decades now, without any discernible cancer risk.</p>

    <p>There are plenty of informative anti-aging blogs written by dermatologists, who have a greater understanding of the chemicals contained in skincare products. I'm sorry, but I found this post to be full of uninformed fear-mongering. </p>

  • September 18, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Yes I saw that months ago when they put it up. Actually they've (unintentionally, I'm sure) sent a fair bit of traffic my way. They put up an even better article berating me for not wearing sunscreen (which I do). </p>

  • September 18, 2008

    by Sasha

    <p>Hi, in regards to your retinol article, check out the link below.</p>

    <p><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>

  • September 18, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Well if it works for you and you have no adverse reactions, there may be no harm in sticking with it. </p>

  • September 18, 2008

    by Anna

    <p>Thanks for that article about Skincueticals retinol. I'm currenlty using the product and apart from skin peeling, it really has cleared my complexion, and made my pores appear smaller. Though, what you say is food for thought. I'm not so sure I will be using the product again.</p>

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