In this post I’m walking you through what it was like being part of the testing group; how I used the product; and the results I saw with consistent use.
As a longtime fan and IG friend of Dr. Bowe (I’ve interviewed her several times on my podcast–links below!), I knew that whatever product she formulates would be high quality and well-researched. And that was definitely the case with this new formula, a retinal product. The official name–Retinal Night 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment.
Here’s how it all started. DWB Beauty posted on social media to see who would want to participate in a secret product testing group, so I applied and I was so excited to be selected. In all, there were a few dozen people who got to participate, and we even got to do a group chat with Dr. Bowe to learn about the product, and each of us got some separate one-on-one time to walk through any questions we might have.
Having time with a world-renowned doctor with the type of knowledge and experience that Dr. Bowe was just so cool. She is always so gracious, chill and down-to-earth, so as you can imagine I was stoked to be part of this group.
I’m going to run through what makes this product different, what I thought, and how I use it in my routine. If you’re in the market for a new product that fights wrinkling and discoloration, read on!
According to Dr. Bowe, retinal works “smarter, harder and better” than many other products containing related ingredients, such as retinol (with an “o”) or even prescription-strength tretinoin.
The ingredient itself is only one conversion step away from retinoic acid–that’s the ingredient found in many prescription products labeled as anti-aging–and is also 10x more bioavailable than retinol. As a result, you need less of this in any given product to see results. And the biggest bonus for me, as someone who hasn’t used retinol regularly in almost a year, is that it is touted as exceptionally gentle on the skin, which I can attest is true.
The short version of my own skin story is that I have been leaning away from using retinol lately. I found that when I turned 40, my skin overall became more dehydrated and more reactive to more potent ingredients. The retinol creams that I have loved in the past just weren’t working for me.
I did use a product or two containing bakuchiol over the past year and had great results, but I never ended up sticking with it. A combination of laziness and also fear that my skin would react kept me away from any products that had these ingredients.
So when I signed up to be part of this trial, I knew I’d be stepping out of my comfort zone by using an active product, but I trust Dr. Bowe’s scientific knowledge and knew that if I were going to dip my toes back into the Vitamin A product world, this would be a great way to do it.
Here is my skin before I started skin cycling, using this product.
And here is my skin now, about 2.5 months later.
It’s not exactly the same lighting–I took the first one at night in front of a cool- and warm-mixed light mirror on a setting similar to true daylight–but the results are there. You can check out the Reel I put together to get a closer look.
My pores are cleaner, and I genuinely feel that my overall texture is smoother. My dark spots are still there, so we’ll see with continued use if those improve. I’m also only using this an average of two nights a week, and from what I understand, if I want those to clear up more quickly, I should bump up to more frequent use. I’m not sure I want to do that right now, but that’s another story.
It’s non-irritating, although on the mornings after I used it I did notice that my skin–while not peeling–was a bit red, almost as if I had a little pinkish glow.
On those mornings I would just wash with a gentle cleanser to make sure there wasn’t any retinal left on my skin (I didn’t want it to sensitize my skin in the sun), put on a good peptide serum and SPF, and my skin felt great.
As someone with larger pores genetically, this has cleared out the clogged pores on my cheeks, and overall I feel my skin is smoother.
When I wake up in the morning, I feel my skin looks amazing and has a radiance to it. I credit this not only to skin cycling, but also the seabuckthorn oil cleansing routine, which has helped to rejuvenate my skin barrier.
I can’t attest to this directly, as I don’t struggle with acne or breakouts on a regular basis, with the exception of some occasional hormonal acne along my jawline. When I have a zit or two, I’ll usually just apply a dab of a benzoyl peroxide treatment on it, and that really helps.
I don’t have deep wrinkles, but I do have a few fine lines that come out with expression. (Long story, but I’m pausing on my typical Botox/neuromodulator treatments for the moment, so I’m getting regular expression lines back.) I don’t think any skin care product alone will erase wrinkles–truly, only a neuromodulator can “freeze” your skin–but this does help my skin to feel a little plumper and more refined.
Of course, as the mother of Skin Cycling, Dr. Bowe recommends using this treatment as part of a plan where you cycle it out with other products.
I did the Gentle Skin Cycling method, which looks like this:
Since I’m following the Gentle Skin Cycling routine, I don’t use the retinal as frequently as someone on a more aggressive routine might. Here’s how it looks:
Night One: Cleanse; let skin dry; apply Exfoliation Night; apply Bowe Glowe for added moisture
Night Two: Cleanse; let skin dry; apply Retinal; apply Bowe Glowe for added moisture
Nights Three, Four and Five: Cleanse; let skin dry; apply Clearstem’s Bounceback Triple Peptide Stem Cell serum; apply moisturizer and then Furtuna Skin Olive Replenishing Balm to lock it all in.