This Under-the-Radar Retinol Serum Gives Me Glowing 'Vacation Skin' — and It's On Sale
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People / Lindsey Metrus
I'll be the first to admit I'm somewhat of a skincare snob. As much as I'm intrigued by a splashy launch from a brand that's more fun than it is functional, when it comes down to it, I want the kitchen sink of science — studies, dermatologist intervention, thoughtful manufacturing and ingredient sourcing, etc. So when I was recently introduced to innovative skincare brand Clinical Skin, I'd felt like I hit a goldmine.
The brand, which is developed with dermatologists, uses stabilized antioxidants, vitamins, and proteins, as well as actives in higher concentrations than you'd find in most mainstream brands to deliver a potent ingredient list that not only targets skincare concerns like fine lines, congestion, and discoloration, but they also have supporting, nourishing ingredients (like ceramides and hyaluronic acid to restore the skin barrier and replenish with hydration, respectively).
Another notable element of this brand is the care that's taken in a number of areas: First, it has child-resistant packaging (something you don't typically find in skincare products whatsoever) in case you have little ones that like to rummage through your beauty stash. Next, the brand claims that they responsibly-source their ingredients and use recyclable packaging wherever possible. And for those with reactive skin, take solace in knowing there are no synthetic dyes or parabens, which can sometimes lead to skin sensitivity.
Most intrigued by the brand's Retinol + Peptide Refining Serum 2.5, I decided to take it for a spin. Any time I chat with a dermatologist, the number one ingredient they always recommend to me is retinol. Especially as you age, retinol helps to improve cell turnover and also "firm" the skin for a smoother, more youthful complexion — and as I get deeper into my thirties, firming up my skin is certainly top of mind. But let's not slight the peptides in this blend — they also work to firm the skin by activating it to produce more collagen (the stuff that gives your skin that coveted "bounce"). So while the name of this serum was certainly intriguing, the further I read into the ingredient list, the more I couldn't believe just how much goodness was in this 1 oz bottle: bakuchiol, a plant-based, skin-firming ingredient that works through the same receptors as retinol; ceramides; niacinamide to reduce fine lines, treat discoloration, and help strengthen the skin barrier; and squalane to keep skin moisturized. Talk about "kitchen sink".
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After cleansing the skin, it's recommended that you apply five drops of the Retinol + Peptide Refining Serum 2.5 before following up with moisturizer. Right away, I noticed that it had a bit of an oil-serum texture thanks to soybean oil, which works to deliver key fatty acids as well as vitamin E to protect the skin from environmental aggressors on top of reducing inflammation. I found that I didn't actually need five drops to feel as though it had properly covered my face and neck and loved how well it massaged into the skin in a way that quickly absorbed without feeling like a total grease bath. I followed up with my usual moisturizer, went to sleep, and examined my skin the next morning.
Much to my pleasant surprise, the small breakouts on my forehead had noticeably decreased in size and my skin was positively glowing. (I snapped a photo and sent it to my friend who had dubbed my luminous complexion, "vacation skin" — you know, the healthy glow you get when you're somewhere warm and have fewer cares.) I had even forgotten to turn on my humidifier the night before, which usually means I wake up feeling dry and parched, but quite the opposite was true in this case. Even the dry patches I had accumulated from blustery winter weather were visibly gone. Continued use over the course of the week only saw improved results; however, I'll need to use it up to six months to see a true marked difference in fine lines. In the meantime, I'll keep admiring my vacation skin (despite being in my chilly apartment in front of a computer screen).
Clinical Skin is currently 25% off on SkincareEssentials.com with code CLINICAL25, so now is the perfect time to try this heavenly serum for yourself.