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TRYING RETINOL FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH NEOSTRATA

A few months ago while browsing skincare content online there was a word that kept popping up everywhere: retinol, retinol, retinol. I remember seeing it being part of the “Holy Trinity” of skincare, with the other two members of the trinity being sunscreen and Vitamin C, both of which were already part of my face’s daily routine. Naturally, I did more research on retinol and came to the conclusion that I most definitely need to complete the trinity in my own life and document how this ingredient changed my skin over time. It just so happened that sometime around then, NeoStrata sent over their Comprehensive Retinol 0.3% Night Serum, Comprehensive Retinol Eye Cream and their Overnight Anti Pollution Treatment. I’d seen rave reviews about NeoStrata online and never tried their products (or retinol) before so I was excited to see what was in store for my skin. Today I want to share my experience and also some of the basics of retinol if you’re thinking of incorporating it into your daily routine.

What exactly does retinol do?

Retinol is a powerful active ingredient that is derived from Vitamin A, and in a nutshell, it does it all. Once absorbed into the skin, retinol stimulates faster cell turnover and collagen production and quite literally creates newer, younger skin. It reduces acne, the appearance of acne scarring and pigmentation. Furthermore, it plumps fine lines and wrinkles and it does all of the above in a faster, more thorough way than any other ingredient I have heard of or tried.

(left) 24 July 2020 versus (right) 24 August 2020 after a month of using NeoStrata.
I did my best to shoot these in the same spot, both on sunny days first thing in the morning. There is no photoshop, filter or make-up. No one is more shocked by this transformation

than I am!

What has my experience been so far after a month of using NeoStrata and specifically Retinol?

To make sure I was truly testing these NeoStrata products and the retinol’s effect on my skin, I still haven’t had a single professional skin treatment since before Lockdown. So aside from a recent top up of lip filler, we are looking at a solid 6 months since I’ve had even the most basic of facials or aesthetic treatments. I even ran out of my favourite Vitamin C for a while, so you know the bulk of the heavy lifting here has been a result of NeoStrata’s Comprehensive Retinol Night Serum, Comprehensive Retinol Eye Cream and their Overnight Anti Pollution Treatment.

First we’ll discuss the changes you can see in the before and after images and what I can see/feel based on my experience that doesn’t necessarily pick up on camera.

(left) 24 July 2020 versus (right) 24 August 2020 after a month of using NeoStrata.
I did my best to shoot these in the same spot, both on sunny days first thing in the morning. There is no photoshop, filter or make-up. No one is more shocked by this transformation

than I am!

The before images were shot on 24 July 2020, and the after images were shot on 24 August 2020. The most obvious and notable change in the images is the scarring left behind from old blemishes have faded in colour, and my skin overall appears smoother. The most pleasant surprise of it all though was the unexpected effect the eye cream had on my dark circles. Dark under-eye circles were something I learned to make peace with a long time ago, simply accepting my fate and the normalcy of having them as someone with fair skin. I was also always an eye-cream skeptic, but now, I take it back. Consider me a convert!

What you can’t see in images is just how totally brand new my skin feels. It feels very much firmer, smoother, it is significantly more glowing and radiant. I also cannot find another way to say this but truthfully overall, I look younger! I don’t think I’ve ever used anything as powerful before. Retinol is said to take a couple of months before it really transforms the skin dramatically, so I wasn’t expecting the difference I can currently see and feel in such a short space of time. I’m really excited to see how my skin looks in a few month’s time!

I also haven’t had a single zit, blocked pore or breakout since incorporating these products into my night time routine. This was a surprise for me since shooting days are picking up again which means more make-up for long hours, usually resulting in breakouts. When my period came two weeks ago (after going missing for three months thanks to my PCOS), my skin still remained zit-free despite my hormones being all over the place. I haven’t changed my cleansing or toning routine in months, however I have cut out dairy again. Still, I can confidently assume a combination of the NeoStrata Anti-Pollution Treatment and of course, the retinol serum, played a huge part in that. Not only does the Anti-Pollution Treatment contain an 8% poly-hydroxy blend that gently exfoliates and renews the skin, but it equips the skin with pollution-fighting anti-oxidants ahead of next-day exposure.

My skin has given me problems for three years now. It feels like whenever I get one breakout under control with its scars faded, another round pops up. I can honestly say this is the best it has consistently looked in years.

My skin again without any filter, Photoshop or foundation. This time though, I’m wearing concealer under my eyes and on one or two blemish scars, a very light amount of blush, bronzer, highlighter and lip balm. There is a slight haze over my forehead and eyes as we shot the portrait through some pampas grass.

Who is retinol for?

Retinol is typically for people in their late 20’s and up (due to how powerful it is and its anti-ageing effects), but some may prefer to start a little earlier for a head start.

How do I use retinol?

After cleansing and toning, I use a pea-sized amount of the NeoStrata Comprehensive Retinol 0.3% Night Serum, followed by tapping in (not rubbing) the Comprehensive Retinol Eye Cream around my eye area. I then apply their Overnight Anti Pollution Treatment all over my face, avoiding the eye area.

What are some of the precautions to take with retinol?

Daily retinol use requires a tolerance you have to build yourself up to. Start off by using it twice per week or every second day, and work your way up to daily use. The NeoStrata Comprehensive Retinol Night Serum has a potency level of 0.3%, and I began by using it sparingly every second day. I experienced some tingling sensitivity, which is completely normal with active ingredients. I found the sensation passes after a minute or so and there are no bad reactions at all. After about two weeks of use, the sensitivity passed and I started using it daily with ease as my skin became accustomed.

Retinol is very powerful and makes your skin more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays and treatments like waxing. That being said, it should only be applied at night and you shouldn’t skip cleansing properly the following morning.

You also have to wear a strong SPF sunscreen every day (but you should be doing that anyway!), and notify your beautician/aesthetician that you are using retinol before doing facial treatments of any kind.

What does it retail for and where can I get it?

The full NeoStrata range is available at dermastore.co.za. Click on the list below to shop the items I used:

This post was written by Aqeelah Harron Ally from Fashion Breed. Follow her on Instagram.