|Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment|
I do suggest trying the sample size if you think this might work for you, because I got 4-5 weeks of use out of it. Since you only use a "pea-sized" amount each time, and you have to gradually increase the frequency of use, the sample contains more than enough to decide if it's right for you. You can see the main claims Paula's Choice makes about this product's purpose on the bottle above, i.e. to improve skin's firmness, smooth wrinkles/lines, reduce dark spots, and refine pores.
|One pump of Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment|
Another side effect that I noticed was that it seems to make my skin more sensitive to other products that I usually don't react to. Nothing major, but I sometimes notice a slight burning sensation when using my regular moisturizer or even things like liquid highlighters. Odd.
Anyway, results! I liked what was happening to my skin while I used this, but I wanted to be sure it was really the result of the retinol and not just a coincidence or something. I tend to be paranoid and to have a bad memory, which makes testing skincare products a pain in the ass. Luckily (?), the disruption of moving (twice), traveling, and housesitting in August interrupted my usual skin care routine and allowed me to sort things out. I packed up both this retinol treatment and the Paula's Choice 2% BHA liquid (also reviewed here) that I have been using for years, and I didn't have access to either of them for a couple of weeks. That, combined with stress, meant that my skin gave me a big old fuck you, and I ended up with a mess to straighten out.
I broke out really bad, I had seriously clogged pores, and my skin looked dull and just generally shitty. I started back in with just the BHA liquid for a week or two, and things improved noticeably. Definitely fewer blackhead and congestion. So, okay good, I haven't been wasting my money on that stuff all this time. Then I cracked open my new, big bottle of 1% retinol and an even greater improvement was noticeable immediately.
I don't really like using vague language like "brighter skin," or "radiant," or "luminous," or whatever, because I feel like a slippery ad man. What exactly do those adjectives really mean? They seem accurate, to some extent, for the results I get from this retinol treatment, but I'm going to try to be more specific. I think the main thing it does for my skin is keep my pores clearer than they would otherwise be, which in turn makes them appear smaller. Smaller pores make my skin, overall, look smoother, and that is the main thing that gives it a "radiant" appearance. For me, "refining pores" is the claim by Paula's Choice that I can really see when I use this.
I still get hormonal breakouts on my chin, but with this product they clear up more quickly and are less intense overall. When I stopped using it, those cystic zits came back with a vengeance and would not fuck off until I went back on the retinol. I'm not sure about overall firmness, but I don't (yet) have a lot of sag in my skin that I'm concerned about. I don't have many dark spots, but my freckles haven't really diminished, which is fine with me. I didn't think it was doing anything for lines until I looked at the following photos side by side. The first one is from May 2015, about 6 weeks before I started testing this retinol treatment, and the second is from the end of July, right as I was finishing up the sample. (I started to use it again toward the end of August.)
|Before and after using Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment for a month|
In my current regimen, I use the Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment every third day, because that allows me to combine it with BHA liquid for optimal exfoliation with minimal peeling. You are not supposed to use BHA or AHA exfoliants at the same time as this retinol. So my routine goes something like this:
Day 1: one pump of retinol treatment in the evening on my entire face, except the eye area, since you're supposed to keep it away from there. I use a separate moisturizer around my eyes. I may or may not add extra moisturizer to the retinol, but it already contains things like glycerin and emollients, so it's usually moisturizing enough on its own for my combination-oily skin.
Day 2: light moisturizer and/or hydrating serum in the morning and evening. I find that using something with hyaluronic acid works well to prevent peeling. The Paula's Choice Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (reviewed here) worked - though I ran out a week ago and have been adding Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster to my regular Moisture Gel since then (also reviewed here - yes, I seem to be a Paula's Choice fangirl, but you already knew that).
Day 3: BHA liquid in the morning or evening, whenever I remember.
Day 4: return to Day 1 (and I use the same moisturizer as Day 2 on Days 1 and 3 as well, as needed).
My skin is looking good with this routine. It's not perfect - I still get the occasional blackhead or pimple, and I still have human skin with pores. But I'm getting a lot of good things from the combination; besides the retinol, there's vitamin C and peptides in the treatment, and then there is the BHA and the antioxidants and everything else in the other products. I'm not hating my face at the moment. My skin is the best it has been in quite some time.
So. I'm recommending something that costs $55. Maybe you have health insurance that covers other retinoids, and that is a more affordable route to go for this kind of thing. I don't, and if you don't either (or you want to try something a bit gentler), here are some options for buying it. I usually get things directly from the Paula's Choice website, because they have frequent sales and free shipping deals. Right now they have 20% any one item and free shipping on $50+. Soon they will probably have a sale on all of their "Clinical" products or all of their retinol products or something, and it will probably be 15-20% off. If you don't already have a Paula's Choice account, you can also get $10 off your first $15+ order by using someone's invite link (here's mine).
Another option, if you've already used your $10-off, is to buy Paula's Choice stuff from the Nordstrom website. Here's the 1% retinol. This is a good way to go if there isn't an appealing sale on the Paula's Choice site, because Nordstrom always has free shipping and free returns. You can also collect your rewards points, if that's a thing you do. Nordstrom doesn't have the sample size, however, which you can only get here from Paula's Choice, and I really recommend trying that out first. Either way, you should also shop through Ebates and get at least 3% cash back from Nordstrom or 5% from Paula's Choice (here's my previous post about Ebates in case you're not familiar). I think that about covers it as far as saving money on this shit goes.
Have you used retinol? Does it work for you? I assumed it didn't do anything for me, but it looks like I needed a higher concentration than I had tried in the past in order to get results.