Retinol may be the gold-standard anti-aging ingredient for firmer skin and fewer fine lines, but that doesn’t make it any less intimidating. Despite all of its positives—dermatologists swear by its skin-perfecting powers—the vitamin A derivative still carries a bit of a negative reputation thanks to its common side effects like dryness and flaking. To create a solution for its customers seeking a gentler option without sacrificing efficacy, Mary Kay scientists joined forces with board-certified dermatologists, and the result is a unique, two-step protocol that is ideal for the retinol novice.
This gentle retinization process involves using two products in tandem: Mary Kay Clinical Solutions Retinol 0.5 delivers all the results you expect from retinol—line smoothing, firming, etc—and Mary Kay Clinical Solutions Calm + Restore Facial Milk minimizes the discomfort associated with retinol. “In the evening after cleansing—wait about five minutes to let the pH of your skin reset—use one pump of retinol on your entire face, avoiding your eye area,” says Dr. Michelle Hines, director of product formulation for Mary Kay. “Then follow with the Facial Milk, which contains several ingredients that are known to soothe the skin.” The lotion is loaded with four plant oils—coconut, jojoba seed, safflower and olive—though somehow lightweight in texture. “It’s also formulated with glycerin and squalene to help prevent water loss, which is important when skin is adjusting to a powerful retinol,” adds Dr. Hines. The products can be purchased separately (Retinol: $78; Milk: $50) or as a set ($120).
In addition to the symbiosis of the two products, the application protocol is essential for first-time users as well. “We created an eight-week program to train your skin,” says Dr. Lucy Gildea, chief scientific officer for Mary Kay. “During the first two weeks, you dilute the Retinol with the Milk—mix the two together in your hand—and then apply once a week, on the same night each week. Weeks three and four, you apply the Retinol once a week, on the same night each week, but instead of diluting the Retinol, you apply the Retinol first and then the milk on top. Weeks five and six: Apply the Retinol followed by the Milk twice a week. And weeks seven and eight, apply the Retinol three to five times per week, followed the Milk as needed.”
According to Rancho Mirage, CA dermatologist Wendy Roberts, MD, by gradually increasing your skin’s exposure to retinol, your skin has time to adapt to its potency. “For those who already use a high-concentration retinol, you can apply the Retinol every other night for two weeks and then increase to every night depending on your skin’s needs.”
In an eight-week independent clinical study on 22 women—Retinol 0.5 was used every other night for the first two weeks and then applied nightly weeks three through eight—100 percent of women experienced improvement in skin smoothness and radiance. They also reported instant hydration after using the Facial Milk, and the calming of irritated skin. The below before-and-after images from the study are shown at baseline and then again at the eight-week mark, and demonstrate an improvement in fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration.
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