Sometimes, in the skincare world, all it feels like anybody talks about is exfoliating–scrubs, brushes, toners, masks, moistruizers, serums, etc.etc. the list goes on and on.
I’m a huge fan of exfoliation, but over-exfoliation is dangerous territory. Skin can become red, raw, inflamed, and thin which makes skin more sensitive to touch and the sun.
It can be hard to restrain yourself from too much exfoliating–who doesn’t want baby smooth, soft skin every time they wash their face? Exfoliation is necessary, but we must be careful what we’re doing it with and how often.
If you are using several different treatments on your skin, i.e. serums, toners, moisturizers, retinol, acids, etc., then it is important to make sure that what you’re using doesn’t cancel out another product’s function. I, myself, am now using a doctor-prescribed retinol at nights on my face (for acne), so I need to make sure that I’m not combining retinol with glycolic acids, because glycolic will actually render the powers of retinol redundant.
As of right now, my exfoliating includes using my Clarisonic in the morning, followed by Clarins Gentle Exfolliator which contains a small amount of glycolic acid.
At night, I simply just double cleanse, apply my retinol and eye cream, wait an hour (to let the retinol sink in), then apply moisturizer. Retinol on its own will resurface the face, and can cause some flaking or peeling, so it is important to be gentle with the skin when using this ingredient. Once or twice a week I may do a scrub (Exfolikate, which yes, contains glycolic, however, I rinse off the scrub so it doesn’t matter) if my pores are feeling congested, and one night a week I might use Alpha H’s Liquid Gold.
So here we are finally. Onto the review of my two toners.
Clarins Gentle Exfoliator: This is a great introductory toner for someone who is nervous about using acids. It is so gentle, no burning or stinging, and has a lovely slightly thick feel to it. Less watery, more lotion. Lovely.
Alpha H Liquid Gold: This is a much stronger exfoliator, at about 5% of acid. I use this totally alone at nighttime. I know. So boring and plain, right? But, by excluding any extra serums or moisturizers, it allows the acid to work, uninterruptedly. Don’t worry, your face may feel slightly dry at first, but the feeling goes away. It can be used under a moisturizer, but I prefer to let it work to its full potential.
Who knows–this still may be considered as too much exfoliating for one person, but I really feel like my pores get congested easily, and this formula helps to keep breakouts at bay and my skin smooth.
As always, please remember: If you are using any products at all that contain any acids or retinol, you MUST use a sunscreen. Your skin becomes more photosensitive from these products and any anti-aging/scar or dark spot diminishing you were hoping to accomplish will be all for naught if you don’t wear a sunscreen.
SHOP THE POST
Let me start off by saying that this is the chicest skincare packaging I have ever seen. So well done Verso’s designer. Speaks right to my minimalistic design heart, and I adore the typography. Plus, everything is in a pump dispenser that delivers the exact amount that you need, so no getting any gross bacteria into their pure bottles and no overusing this product (which is important, considering the prices).
All of Verso’s products are formulated to be less irritative than other retinol products. They all contain Retinol 8, niacinamide and other antioxidant-boosting ingredients. Both Retinol and niacinamide are star ingredients: retinol is only one of two ingredients proven to reverse and prevent aging (the other is SPF) and niacinamide (vitamin B3) helps to fight hyperpigmentation, aids with water retention, and helps acne sufferers to prevent against bacteria from getting in.
The form of retinol used in their products is stable, so you are able to use it for daytime–however–retinol does make the skin more photosensitive, so you must use an SPF (but you should be doing that anyways). Also, do not combine with any glycolic products as it will render the retinol redundant.
Bonus: none of their products contain mineral oil, sulphates, parabens or pthalates. Yay!
Super Facial Serum: This is the star product of their range, in my opinion. It is not greasy in the slightest, absorbs in a flash, and is really hydrating and creamy. If you’re going to by only one product, this is it. I’m using it during the day, and using my prescription retinol at night. A great way for those with sensitive and dry skin to dive into using retinol–there is no burning, drying, redness, flaking whatsoever. A very comfortable way to use an anti-aging product. I could even see those with oilier skin not needing to follow it up with a moisturizer.
Super Eye Serum: I have really sensitive eyes, so this might not occur for everyone, but I do sometimes experience a slight burning in a few spots (but for me no pain, no gain). But otherwise, no redness or anything and it’s hydrating enough to protect my eyelids from the winter wind. A tiny amount of the product is enough for the entire eye area, and while it is a serum, still hydrating enough.
Foaming Cleanser: Now, I am usually against foaming cleanser, but I happily discovered that this is an extremely low-foaming cleanser, almost no foam at all, really. Great for when you need a deeper clean. I would say that this would probably be more ideal for normal to oily skins. I find it just the slightest bit stripping for me, but then again, I’m in the middle of the Canadian winter/constant polar vortex, with already dry skin and my apartment is as arid as a desert.
Let’s think of Vichy’s Lift Activ Advanced Concentrate as my retinol training wheels.
I received this lovely tube just before Christmas, and I was pretty excited about it. I had been thinking about working some retinol into my routine, since I’m in my mid-20’s (gasp). I know. So old.
Anyways, I wanted to add it, but I was little bit scared and unsure as I heard that skin can really react to retinol–making it red, flaky, sensitive and everything unfortunate before it gets better. Luckily, thanks to Vichy, I experienced none of these side effects. They’ve created a moisturizer (formulated with their LR2412) with what is supposed to be the highest concentration of retinol available in a non-perscription product (at 0.2%). You can either use this product on it’s own (but always with a sunscreen), or underneath a moisturizer. It is also supposed to be the first of it’s kind in that you can use it in the daytime (normally retinol products are used at bedtime because skin becomes more photosensitive). However, I’ve seen other brands claim to have this sort of stable retinol as well.
As I said, I wanted to work in some retinol not only for it’s anti-aging benefits, but also because retinol is proven to be a solution for acne-prone skin (which Dr. Sapra already explained to us). It resurfaces the face. You can experience breakouts for up to 8 weeks after you start using it because that is how long a pimple takes to fully form and come to the surface (fun fact, right? I learned that from my doctor). So be patient while retinol unclogs your pores for you–you can thank it later.
So, I started applying this non-greasy, serum-like cream to my skin every morning, on it’s own, and you know what? My skin started to get really clear! But, I was stupid, and my skin started to get dehydrated because I needed more hydration than it was providing. Plus, being a beauty blogger, I got distracted and started trying out other products, yada yada. Classic product junkie stuff. But, you should know, you CAN layer over another moisturizer if it’s the Vichy is not hydrating enough on it’s own. I would just let it sink in first.
So, it moved to the wayside for a little while. But then I came back to it, and used it in tandem with my Verso products (more on that to come), and my skin started to clear up again. Lines started to fill in.
However, since I suffer from hormonal acne, I was recently prescribed Differin at 0.1% retinol. I was super scared that my face was going to peel off, but because it was already used to the Vichy, I didn’t experience any side effects at all (no redness, flakiness, etc.), except for the purging. My face is definitely purging. But the pimples are clearing up quicker and not coming back or sticking around for weeks. And my under the skin bumps are quickly disappearing, and this is like, two weeks in.
So! Moral of the story. If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced way to venture into the retinol game, but don’t want to have a peeling face, Lift Activ Advanced Concentrate is your product. Even if you’re like me, fairly young, no deep lines yet, this is an excellent way to prevent skin aging (also, it’s safe to use with any glycolic products, FYI). Retinol and sunscreen are really the only proven anti-aging ingredients that actually WORK, so this is something you should get behind if you don’t want to have a wrinkly face before you’re 50. It’s science.