Before getting into this review let's just address the elephant (er, the monkey??) in the room, shall we? There has been a lot of drama over the past months involving Deciem's founder, Brandon Truaxe, and his behavior on social media. I have to say that I am genuinely dismayed by the general tone of the conversation taking place. Truaxe's latest online posting seems to make it pretty clear that he is suffering from some sort of mental illness. I'm not seeing a lot of compassion extended in the comments on the beauty and skincare forums I follow. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. This is the internet after all and it doesn't have a great track record for bringing out the best in people. As a nurse, I frequently work with folks who have a wide range of mental illnesses. It can be challenging and frustrating but it's important to be kind and understanding to those struggling with imbalances. I'm not a mental health provider and I've never met Brandon Truaxe and so I won't make any more inferences about his mental state. I just hope that the judgmental tone of the conversation around him and his company can be nudged in a more caring, positive direction. On the other hand, I think it is perfectly understandable to have concerns about the long-term viability of this company and it's products. I have been a devoted customer of Deciem and it's sub-companies for a few years but I am now looking into some alternatives. Part of this is due to my love of trying new things. But I also have some questions about whether Deciem can continue to create the best products in its current company environment. I certainly don't judge others for having similar concerns. So let's just all take a deep breath, wish for the best for Brandon Truaxe, and get on to some skincare reviewing, shall we?
Retinol is one of my skincare regimen "musts" along with SPF and Vitamin C. Retinol has been studied extensively and has been shown to improve the appearance of the skin by increasing cell turnover, boosting collagen production, and reducing uneven skin tone. There are many different types of retinoids out there, including Rx only versions and simple Vitamin A. My recommendation to anyone just starting with this ingredient is to start gently by using a less concentrated product and only applying it a few times a week. If your skin does not experience too much irritation or peeling, then you can increase the frequency of usage and the concentration. And ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!!
My skin is not very sensitive and so I was able to introduce retinol into my routine with very little redness or peeling. My retinol before this one was Skinceuticals 0.5% Night Cream. I really liked that product but at the time I ran out, I was interested in finding a cheaper option. Of course the first place I looked was at The Ordinary, a Deciem sub-company that specializes in extremely affordable (aka dirt cheap) products and simple formulations. Currently, The Ordinary carries 6 different formulations and concentrations of retinoids. I ultimately chose the 0.5% in Squalene because it had the same concentration as my previous cream and because the skincare community is having a "moment" with squalene.
What I Liked:
The price. It cost me a whopping $5.80.
My skin seemed to like it, too. I didn't experience any redness or irritation when I switched from the Skinceuticals to this. That being said, I have pretty resilient skin that doesn't get mad at me very easily. Sometimes this makes me wonder if I should be using a stronger version of retinol. At the same time, I'm only in my early 30s so it might be wise to "save" the stronger stuff for later decades. Sigh, so much to think about. I'll probably stick with what I'm doing for the summer months with their higher risks of sun exposure and revisit this question come winter.
I found that the light, oil-like formula fit in nicely with my evening routine. If you've ever used squalene, you'll have a pretty good idea of what the texture of this product is like. Squalene is sometimes referred to as a dry oil because of how quickly is soaks into skin. I recommend layering this product on top of any water-based serums you might be using but underneath your night-cream. If you are a face oil devotee, you can just mix a few drops of the retinol with your favorite face oil in the palm of your hand before applying. Easy peasy.
What I Didn't Like:
I am just so darn sick of these dropper bottles! Please, Skincare Companies of the World, can you just quit it with these? I can't tell you how many times I'm knocked over a dropper bottle while sleepily getting ready for bed, spilling my precious product into the sink! Also, dropper bottles don't protect active ingredients from degradation like pump bottles do. I'm on the verge of making it a rule to only buy products in pump bottles from now on. Who's with me?
Also, I have to admit that the number of choices offered by Deciem and The Ordinary is a little bit overwhelming. The advantage of so many different, simple formulations is that you can mix and match the ingredients you want in your regimen according to your needs. The disadvantage is that, before you know it, you've got a 10-product routine which can be a little exhausting. Plus, I'm not a cosmetic chemist so how can I know that all the products I'm using aren't canceling each other out? For a while, I loved all my bottle and potions. Now, I'm starting to long for the days when I had just one or two "do it all" products.
Overall, I'm very glad that I tried The Ordinary's Retinol 0.5% in Squalene and I will definitely consider repurchasing this or another Ordinary retinol in the future. The price can't be beat and the formula works well into my admittedly very-involved night routine. Fingers crossed that the company can make it through everything it's going through!