Thursday 31 October 2013

Peeling back the years - Indeed Labs Retinol Reface review

I noticed the other day that my e-buzzing Beauty Blog ranking - the one I inadvertently gained when I failed to find a Perfume category to list Bonkers under way back when - has taken another tumble!  I am sure I was in the 80s before - that is a major plummet, and one I am not sure I can readily address.  That said, I had been planning another beauty post anyway, because of my latest quest in search of the best products for 'that unfortunate crossover condition of “problem mature skin”', as I once termed it.

What sparked my interest on this occasion was a post by the ethereally beautiful Dee on BOTOblog about her make-up regime, in which she explained that the condition of her skin (flawless, luminous, porcelain-like!) was largely down to her regular use of prescription retinoids, a derivative of Vitamin A.  There is a fair body of scientific evidence to suggest that retinoids do indeed 'minimise the appearance of wrinkles, bolster the skin's thickness and elasticity, slow the breakdown of collagen, and lighten brown spots caused by sun exposure' I was intrigued, but further research led me to conclude that prescription strength might not be for me, as the retinoid products are so much more potent than the OTC ones based around retinol.

Danielle de Medeiros - major lid love and socket envy!

I figured that as Dee has 20 years on me, her skin is doubtless more resilient, while mine is older, thinner, dogged by acne and rosacea, and susceptible to allergic reactions at the drop of a drop of tea tree oil, or a smidge of zit-busting benzyl peroxide.  There was also the possibility that I had neglected my skin for so long that it was in fact too late to perform anti-aging interventions - as I wrote in a comment on Dee's post, it might turn out to be a case of 'closing the stable pores after the collagen has bolted'.  This sorry state of affairs is attributable to decades of blithely ignorant sunbathing abuse, compounded by no regular moisturising regime whatsoever till I was knocking on 40.  The eye creams on the market for much of that time seemed to migrate into your eyes at night and sting like blazes, plus my vegan lodger prompted me to abort my brief flirtation with one of the major brands by claiming that its face creams contained minced deers' hoo-has, which must have been an apocryphal story that I should really have challenged.

Source: - female deer unwittingly kiboshing my early skincare regime

Though the jury was out as regards the chances of improving my skin tone at this late stage, I decided to chat to Tara of Olfactoria's Travels about her own preferences in this field of anti-aging skincare.  She was also leaning towards a gentler approach involving OTC products, specifically Trilogy Rosehip Oil, which had garnered a lot of favourable reviews, and was available in Boots.  So on the shopping list it went, and the other weekend I set off for Boots to pick up a bottle.  As it turned out though, my local branch was too small to carry it, so instead my eye was drawn to another product from the Indeed Labs range - my dalliance with their Nanoblur cream is documented here.

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface seemed like the milder form of retinol treatment I was looking for - it promised to be 'moisturising as well as non-irritating, with no peeling, dryness or redness'.  Moreover, Retinol Reface apparently contained not one but 3 types of retinol: a 'Rapid Action' form, a slower release form where the retinol is encapsulated into plant micro-spheres, and a retinol-like peptide, which mimics the behaviour of retinol, but is kinder to skin.  Okay, so two types of retinol then, and a gentle interloper.

Tara of Olfactoria's Travels, also looking radiant!

That night I eagerly applied what I took to be a small amount of the Reface cream to my whole face, though it is very hard to know what exactly is the correct amount - some of the blogs I read spoke of a pea-sized blob, but that doesn't seem to go very far - or even two.  I took care to include the problem areas of age spots on my cheeks, lines above and either side of my mouth, plus the generally crepe-y bits above my eyes. Big mistake!  The next morning I woke up to find the skin above my eyes had swelled up - not as badly as the time I went to sleep in the sun that I mentioned in my interview on Olfactoria's Travels, but enough to look angry, as though I had been bitten by a mosquito or something (which has also been known).  Not bad enough to resort to shades but enough to make me self-conscious.

Source: Wikipedia - collagen helix

The next night I applied the cream everywhere except near my eyes, and the night after that I chickened out completely and didn't apply it at all.  My reading on the Internet suggests that puffiness of sensitive areas is not an uncommon side effect, and that the whole business of finding your skin's level of tolerance to these anti-aging products is a bit of a 'suck it and see' process.  

Oh, and you are meant to wear 50 SPF sun cream during the day, all the while that you are applying the retinol product at night.  Which meant a trip to Asda to find anything with that high a factor.  Ambre Solaire came up trumps but it was very greasy - classic suncream rather than moisturiser - such that I didn't want to go out looking that shiny, on top of having the puffy eyes!  But because I only applied the cream twice, I ended up only wearing the sun cream for one day. It felt counter-intuitive on an overcast day in mid-October, I have to say.


So anyway, having stopped using the retinol cream for the moment, I concentrated on trying to reduce the puffiness above my eyes, and tried eye baths and compresses of hot and cold tea bags to little effect. Two and a half weeks on, the eyelids are still a bit puffier than I remember them as being, but it just looks as though I have aged slightly.  Which is of course rather ironic, but there you go!  

I do plan to have another bash with the Reface cream, keeping clear of the eyes next time, obviously.  After all, I got pretty good results with Indeed Labs' sister product, Nanoblur, especially on the fine lines above my top lip.

And meanwhile I have invested in another product that Tara tipped me off about - Dermalogica gentle cream exfoliant, but haven't had a chance to use it yet.  I have never exfoliated my face before, and the rest of me only about once every couple of years.  I vividly remember Mr Bonkers complaining about the state of the bath afterwards.  I guess I am part of the 'pot of Nivea and ChapStick generation', tending to moisturise only when skin starts to resemble a cracked delta or actually sloughs off.  But as with pensions, so with skincare, it is something best started young when the idea seems almost incongruous.  Yes, it really is a case of a stitch in time saves nine.  Or a splodge or a slather, if you will.

And meanwhile, if I can't quite manage to peel back the years, I can always hide behind my hair.

UPDATE - December 2013

Right, so I have had another tentative dabble with the Retinol Reface product, being most careful to avoid the eye area, and have had no problems with sensitivity elsewhere on my face - am putting it on my forehead (major ploughed field zone!), cheeks and chin.  I get a slight tingling at best, but I reckon my skin has now grown accustomed to the product.  I have been using Retinol Reface on and off for about two weeks now - I don't do consistent regimes where beauty products are concerned ;) - and have the impression that my forehead looks a bit smoother, and maybe also the grooves either side of my mouth.  Not sure the vertical lip lines directly above my mouth are improved - if anything they look longer than I remember, but maybe I just haven't noticed their inexorable march!  But I will keep going, as I think the peptides part of the formulation may be helping plump out my deep frown lines at least.


Ines said...

I recently bought Dermalogica's daily exfoliant that is actually a powdery substance you mix with water and massage into your face. Wonderful stuff! :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Sounds good! I have just had my first go with the stuff Tara put me onto that you are supposed to use just once or twice a week. Skin feels nicely tingly and taut - smelt a bit funny when it was on, like burning lemons - but we'll see. Tara said it was like having a new face! That would be most welcome...;-)

Tara said...

Ha ha, it's me and my giant chocolate croissant! Thanks for saying I look radiant in the pic as I'm always stressing I look ashen.

Isn't it interesting how many of our US friends use prescription retinol face products? I'm sure Natalie and Undina use something similar. I guess because of the private medical insurance you can get skin care products on prescription easily. I'd be interested to learn how it works. No one I know has ever been to a dermatologist (sp?).

Having said all that, I'd still be wary of retinol creams like the one you tried as the basic RoC moisturiser irritated my skin as I think I told you. At least the Reface didn't sting and I'm glad you seem to have had a good result with the Gentle Cream Exfoliant which I love.

Sarah Waite said...

Hi Vanessa, I just read the post Ines made. I have the same Dermalogica exfoliator which is utterly brilliant for me. Doubt it will ever banish any of my little crepey lines but it certainly helps your moisturiser sink in which I think is the point.

I think that all of these potions do a little to help but not a great deal. I'm still keen to use them as I love the experience of lying around with a mask on and getting the joy of the perfumes of some of the products. I'm massively into Nuxe at the mo as some of their face and body moisturisers are scented with (natural) orange blossom, they go so well with L'Heure Bleue.

I hope that your puffy eyes have gone down and that the goddess within has been revealed for the pagan delights of Halloween!

Suzanne said...

Vanessa, I enjoyed your post, and I can see how a plummeting Beauty Blog ranking would inspire it, lol! But after what this retinol cream did to your eyes, are you sure you want to experiment with it again? I actually think your skin looks great, btw, although I do understand the quest. Especially when seeing the beautiful faces of many of our perfume blogging acquaintances, including the two lovelies you feature here.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sarah,

Aha - another fan of the Dermalogia daily exfoliant that Ines first mentioned! If I get on okay with this occasional one, I might move on to a more regular exfoliating regime. That would be a turn up for the books... I have been using the Liz Earle hot clothing cleansing kit more often lately, so am trying to acquire good habits. That Nuxe range sounds lovely - am a huge sucker for anything smelling of orange blossom. Had a hotel body lotion in Holland once that was scented with the note and tried in vain to buy some on the Internet, but it was just a trade product.

My puffy eyes are not looking too bad, thanks - I think they may have been mostly like that before, having studied photos from earlier in the year! - so I will be able to enjoy hiding from Trick 'n' Treaters tonight as planned. Fascinating programme on supermarket pumpkin logistics last night, btw. Did anyone catch it?

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Yup, it's you and that humungous croissant, immortalised for ever for at least the second time on Bonkers! I don't think you ever look ashen - just pale and interesting occasionally. Mostly I think of you as having quite an olive complexion, tbh.

It is true that our US friends seem to have a more serious investment in skincare than us Brits. I wouldn't know where to begin to find a dermatologist here, short of going to Harley Street, maybe. It's just not a category of specialist we engage with, not like a doctor or dentist say.

The Reface was fine on the rest of my face, and I don't mind giving it another tentative go, to see if it shifts my age spots or sorts out my top lip wrinkles. I could feel it plumping up that area last time - the peptides, no doubt. I read somewhere that Reface has proportionately more peptides than retinol though it sells itself using a retinol angle. Which reminds me of those Innocent smoothies that mention pomegranate and blueberry in big letters though they are mostly comprised of apple juice - you know the sort of thing...My skin feels amazingly silky after that exfoliation - do you use it once or twice a week, out of interest? It says you can do either if you get on with it. But where can one obtain moisturiser with SPF 50 that isn't actual sun cream? My regular day cream is only SPF 15. Or maybe the manufacturers are just being super cautious. It's not like it's high summer or anything - or that I am outside much.

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Yes, if I am going to be involuntarily yoked to a Beauty ranking system, I feel the least I can do is make some effort to post on the topic, plus these matters do genuinely (if belatedly) exercise me, haha. I am certainly not going to go near my eyes with anything like this product again - also not the exfoliating cream I tried today - so they will just have to lag behind in the rejuvenating stakes. Better safe than sorry though, for as ex-Mrs Bonkers Senior recently observed - a propos of her choice of eye hospital to treat a cloudy cornea, nothing to do with our vanity topic here ;-) - "You've only got one pair of eyes."

Hmm, it would actually be quite handy to be a many-eyed Argus monster at times, specifically for the purpose of testing this kind of potent skincare product. With a hundred of the things, you could afford to puff up and irritate the odd dozen along the way.

Lavanya said...

Both Dee and Tara do look lovely and radiant!!

And LOL re:" but it just looks as though I have aged slightly. Which is of course rather ironic, but there you go! " That made me laugh really loud!!

My skin looked its best a few (maybe more than a few) years ago during my sister's wedding when I was religiously following a skin care routine mostly with products from this one woman owned company called (I know! the name wants makes you want to roll your eyes doesn't it?)..[Though my aunt/s attributed my skin/glow to 'marriage suiting me', so make of that what you will, but I think it was my routine! :D]. No, but seriously, I like this company because you can actually talk to the owner and she'll recommend stuff for your skin. Of course one must not follow all the advice. I didn't! :)

I still use some of their products but it is too much trouble to follow the routine- I don't have the mental space for that nowadays. Which reminds me, I need to exfoliate my face..;-)

Lavanya said...

arghh..excuse the extra words..I meant the name makes you want to etc

Anonymous said...

There's a great book called "The skin type solution : The revolutionary guide to finding and caring for your skin type" by Leslie Baumann. Dr. B looks at four factors (dryness, wrinkles, etc.) and comes up with a bunch of often very different skin care routines. I was ecstatic to find out I didn't need to have my skin scrubbed or peeled, as it was wildly painful...AnnieA

Tara said...

V, I don't use it twice a week. I think you'd only need to do that if you had very sluggish skin. I probably only get round to doing it maybe once a fortnight.

I must say I didn't know you were supposed to wear factor 50 the next day and tbh I still don't think I'll bother. I had spf15 in my moisturiser and then make-up on top of that and I do have a fair bit of melanin in my skin. But I'd recommend the Anthelios spf 50+ face creams from La Roche Posay. You can get it in larger Boots and Birgit uses that too so it must be good.

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

Chuckling at your aunt's speculation about the origin of your blooming complexion. ;-) I quite like the sound of, and in particular the idea of a personal consultation. Must check them out. My main problem though - like you - is not being bothered to follow any kind of labour-intensive routine. Well, in your case you are a busy mum, so mine may be more of an attitudinal problem. Cleansing, toning and moisturising twice a day feels incredibly involved, as someone who for years has only been dabbing a bit of cream round my eyes morning and night. Though I have always religiously taken off my make up before going to bed at least!

Vanessa said...

It's okay, I understood!

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Thanks so much for this tip! I have gone and ordered a copy off Amazon this morning - a used copy, to match my skin. ;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I am encouraged to hear that you don't use this product too often - that would be a bit of a rigmarole for someone as lazy about skincare as me. Still feeling lovely and silky this morning - have since done the Liz Earle cleanse and tone and slapped on some SPF 15 cream. I use the Superdrug one with grape skins that got rave reviews when it came out. Okay, this is from the Daily Mail, but there were others at the time!

It uses plant stem cells of the grape which apparently are as good as ones from humans. That said, I will look out for that cream you mention though - knowing that Birgit uses it is sure proof of its efficacousness!

Anonymous said...

Great! Hope you find it useful, even if many of the products mentioned are American. If it's not too personal, it would be very interesting to hear about your regime and skin type (e.g.OSNT). It *would* count as another beauty post...AnnieA

Anonymous said...

Two words:
Paula Begoun
Okay, maybe two more: skincare genius!

Vanessa said...

Hi B,

I promptly got lost in her videos! Who knew that day and night cream are the same bar the addition of sunscreen, or that the eye area doesn't need special treatment, or that jars harbour bacteria?! I'm taking notes next time I watch them...

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Oh no, not too personal at all, though I think readers might find the rudimentary steps that comprise my skincare regime a little disappointing! Also, I must look up that acronym, OSNT! And even if that book I have bought is quite an American in focus, I'm sure it will contain some useful tips.

Anonymous said...

Her books are also really worth the investment, I was lucky to come across then in my twenties, I'm sure Paula saved my skin from many future sins. I use her products and love them, she is just to sensible and her scientific take appeals to me. I hate all the marketing fluff.

Anonymous said...

I think the OSNT is one of Leslie Baumann's skin categories. I'd be interested in whether you find her book useful. I've read parts of it (quite a while back) and was most interested in what she had to say about rosacea and especially what products/ingredients to avoid.

-- Lindaloo

Very startled at the sudden drop in your beauty buzz ranking. Cleerly time to pull up your socks ;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

Nice to hear from you! I will see if I can figure out those categories when the book arrives. As a rosacea sufferer myself, I would be interested in any tips in that direction. And yep, I am working on my beauty buzz ranking - below 100 is just not acceptable, hehe!

Vanessa said...

Thanks, B - I will definitely pursue her books as well as her products - I only wish I had got around to a more considered skincare regime a lot sooner!

Natalie said...

Ack! Another post that has me sympathetically eyeing the monitor. Your reaction to that cream sounds painful. To answer your and Tara's question (and confirm Undina and I do use the same prescription retinol): yearly visits to the dermatologist are recommended in the US, perhaps because our general practitioners are less likely to do more "specialized" things like skin checks (for cancerous spots) and such. My dermatologist prescribed mine for me, and it's pretty reasonably priced (all depends on insurance, of course).

On a different note: I actually think people with sensitive skin might have better luck with a prescription than an over the counter treatment. I often think a lot of the inflammatory impact comes from the combination of ingredients in those anti-aging creams.

Kenneth Barn said...

Yes, there are dangers in eye creams. Our Eye Doctor in Arizona discussed this with me when my younger sister had a little accident back in 2011, where her eyes got irritated because of eye creams.

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

Your sympathy is much appreciated!

I was interested to hear about you and Undina using prescription retinol to such fantastic effect like Dee! Over here, a dermatologist is just not a category of specialist the average person has dealings with, though as you say our general practitioners do take care of things like moles and other worrying skin complaints. I sense that the beauty regime of people Stateside is more sophisticated overall - manicures are more common as well.

Vanessa said...

HI Kenneth,

Thanks for dropping in and giving us your take on the topic of topical creams! Your sister's experience sounds very salutary...

Unknown said...

So grateful of your post as I too am suffering with a reaction to my eyes. How long was it until it cleared up for you? Mine have been about 4 days so far! ☹️

Vanessa said...

Hi there,

Sorry for your bad experience. It is so long since my skin was a first time user of this product but reading my post back I still had a bit of puffiness two and a half weeks later, and thought I had aged slightly! But don't be too alarmed, it may not take so long for your skin to recover, especially if you are younger than me as your skin will have more resilience.

I have been using the Reface on and off ever since, actually - plus lots of other anti-ageing things in between in a vague rotation - and I really think you have to gradually build up a resistance to anti ageing products where the eye area is concerned. I have managed to safely use La Roche Posay's Redermic R Eye Cream (which is retinol based) on my upper eye lids, which I would have been frightened to do before. Wholly peptide-based serums are no trouble, but retinol is a bit harsher.

See also Paula's helpful review of this one: