All about our Retin+Erase: the Next Generation of Retinoid Esters
If you had asked me two years ago would I ever consider including a retinol product in our line, I might have brushed it off. “Retinol? Yawn. If retinol worked well, there would be no more wrinkles in the world because it’s in everything!”
It’s true, retinol is ubiquitous in high end lines through to mass ones. It’s always been plagued with causing irritation, stability issues and efficacy. Retinol needs to be converted in the skin into an active form in order to function so high doses are necessary to really function but then irritation and side effects become an issue. At the end of the day, retinol was the sad sibling of prescription retinoids. Sure they were part of the same family but one was an underperformer and if you could work with the gold star of anti-aging, as prescription retinoids are often called, then why tango with the lacklustre understudy.
Unfortunately, as starlets go, prescription retinoids have their own bits of drama as well. They have had availability issues in the past couple of years with one brand or another being on back order. On closer examination, the formulas available in Canada also have parabens included in their non-medicinals. It can be odd how we can scrutinize cosmetics for their ingredients but then never take a second look at pharmaceutical products. Certainly, if a drug is life saving or critical to ones health, you tend to focus on the active ingredient. However, for pharmaceuticals for cosmetic use, it makes sense that we apply the same level of stringency as we would our other personal care products. This put our sister clinic in a tough position between maintaining their precepts about avoiding endocrine disruptors while delivering the best results possible.
When we drilled down a bit more though, a lot of our hesitancy disappeared and our resolve to create something better strengthened. It turns out that while our sister clinic had been prescribing a significant amount of retinoids when we gently questioned our patients, many of them admitted to neglecting to actually use them. They just could not stand the irritation and the dryness on a daily basis.
This brings us to Retin+Erase. On a trip to the lovely Barcelona, my father and I were attending the annual and amazing In-Cosmetics show. Raw material suppliers from all over the world fill a space triple the size of an arena and showcase the best and the brightest of their wares. To be honest, I was pregnant, jet lagged, and mostly hungry so not in the best frame of mind. My father, however, had attended a presentation on a new generation of retinoid esters. I’d heard of different retinol esters and again was not very interested but my father insisted that he thought the science had merit and so we stopped to discuss with the scientist who did the original discovery of this unique molecule. Their clinical photos were promising so we arranged for a sample to be sent to our genius chemist and would wait to see what he thought.
Our chemist agreed the material was intriguing and had known the supplier and their excellent products for a while. Our challenge to him was to use a high percentage. Health Canada limits cosmetic products to 1% active so that was our threshold. Our chemist returned a prototype that admittedly looked like nuclear yellow pudding but on application was light, hydrating and transparent.
However, the product’s real innovation lies at its simplicity. Our Retin+Erase has four ingredients on its list. Just four, simple and non-controversial ingredients. It turns out that we are currently the only manufacturer to use the material at a 1% concentration. Others had elected to use lower concentrations, perhaps due to cost since it is a premium ingredient but also due to formulation considerations.
Loosely borrowing from the idea of micelles found in micellar cleansers, we found a way to render the retinoid ester into very small and evenly dispersed molecules. Their uniform entry into the skin minimizes irritation, allowing the 1% active to work in its full glory. The formula contains no added water so no preservatives were needed but also means that water does not contribute to the degradation of the retinoid ester.
Our results to date have shown that even those who had abandoned their prescriptions due to irritation can use our Retin+Erase. Although we recommend to start by using a couple of times a week and then increase frequency of use as toleration builds, most have been able to use it nightly from the beginning with no issues.
So there you have a glimpse of how our R&D process can take shape- find a problem that we as industry insiders experience every day and then find the right material with the right science to address it. Pair that with deceptively simple formulations based on decades of experience and a willingness to try new things and presto- you have a new product that will hopefully change people’s skin for the better.
Look out for its public launch in 2017 and stay tuned with us for updates.