PCA Skin Intensive Age Refining Treatment 0.5% Retinol Serum


Retinol is one of my big three skincare ingredients along with hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid. I think retinol is a must-have ingredient in the products I use on a regular basis. For the three years, I have been using StriVectin S.T.A.R. Retinol Light Night Oil, and it’s one of my favorite skincare products. But I took the opportunity to try out another retinol serum.

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PCA Skin Retinol Solutions Collection

PCA Skin, one of my favorite brands, sent me Intensive Age Refining Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol Night (Serum) a while back, and I have been using it for about a month. In case it is interesting to you, I wanted to mention that PCA Skin also makes two other 0.5% Pure Retinol products that could be a bit confusing. All three must be part of the “Retinol Solutions” collection that is flagged at the top of the tube.

PCA Skin Intensive Age Refining Treatment 0.5% Retinol Serum

In addition to Intensive Age Refining Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol, there is a similar product called Intensive Brightening Treatment with 0.5% Pure Retinol and a third product called Intensive Clarity Treatment! What gives? A rose is a rose is a rose, right? Maybe, but maybe not. The ingredients for Age Refining Treatment are slightly different from Brightening Treatment. Intensive Age Refining Treatment is positioned as an anti-aging product, while Intensive Brightening Treatment is, well, a brightening and discoloration product. The third product, Intensive Clarity Treatment, is an acne treatment with salicylic acid along with the 0.5% Pure Retinol. Yet the packaging, size and price of the three products are the same. A little confusing, don’t you think?

PCA Skin Intensive Age Refining Treatment

Intensive Age Refining Treatment focuses on anti-aging benefits such as firming and treating fine lines and wrinkles, the issues I am most concerned about. PCA Skin lists the benefits as:

  • Minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and firm the skin with retinopeptide and stem cell extract technology
  • Strengthen skin with minimal irritation using stabilized retinol
  • Reduce age-related skin yellowing and redness with niacinamide
  • Uses the patented OmniSome delivery system to carry ingredients deeper into the skin for superior results

I looked up “OmniSome Delivery System”, and I found a short video by PCA Skin that showed the retinol penetrating the layers of the skin, going through the outer layer (stratum corneum), through the epidermis to the beginning of the dermis. Conversely, other products using traditional delivery systems primarily sit on top of the stratum corneum with just a little of the product reaching into the beginning of the epidermis. The OmniSome Delivery System delivers the stable 0.5% pure retinol down through more of the skin’s layers, and it provides continued release for 10 hours.

“Retinol can dry you out,” cautions Barbara Broas, aesthetician from Le Metier de Beaute. “But a proper delivery system makes retinol more effective, and products penetrate better.” And since the retinol is not sitting on the surface of the skin, there’s less chance of irritation. I found that to be true for me. I didn’t experience any discomfort using this product, but I have been using retinol products for a long time. The directions on the packaging and website recommend starting out slowly with this product, i.e. twice a week to start, then every other night, and finally every night, as tolerated.

I think that after a month of using Intensive Age Refining Treatment, my skin looks good. I can’t say that my skin was “yellowing” or red before I started, but I do have some dark spots from sun damage that is still there. But those dark spots need to be removed with a laser treatment, not retinol. I think Intensive Age Refining Treatment is doing a good job in terms of firming and strengthening. My skin feels firm, relatively plump and bouncy. I am keeping an eye on any diminishment of fine lines. I’ll let you know about that in a few more weeks.

The key ingredients in Intensive Age Refining Treatment are:

  • Retinol (vitamin A) – vitamin A helps promote a clear complexion and an even skin tone.
  • Niacinamide – a potent antioxidant that improves barrier function, reduces age-related skin yellowing, redness and uneven skintone and reduces excess oil production.
  • Myristoyl nonapeptide-3 – a peptide that supports skin-strengthening.
  • Orange stem cell extract –  improves skin elasticity and firmness to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

PCA Skin Intensive Age Refining Treatment comes in a tube. The stuff inside is a yellow lightweight gel-cream that has the consistency of a serum. Because it is a retinol treatment, I use it only at night, and I use sunscreen during the day since retinol can increase skin sensitivity.

The only downside that I see with PCA Skin Intensive Age Refining Treatment is the price, $111 for 1 fl. oz. PCA Skin is a research-oriented brand that is often recommended and sold by dermatologists. It has a great reputation. Nevertheless, it’s expensive; it’s $12 more than the StriVectin Retinol Light Night Oil that I’ve been using. But I do prefer the gel-cream form of the PCA Skin serum because it is easier to cover my entire face than with the oil that I press a few drops into my skin. I think my skin is actually getting more retinol with the PCA Skin gel-cream than with the StriVectin oil. Hmmm.

I intend to use up the tube, and you’ll hear from me again to find out if the benefits are impressive enough and the form of the product merit repurchase. On the PCA Skin website, Intensive Age Refining Treatment is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 81 reviewers, and the vast majority of users claim that they had noticeable results.

PCA Skin products are sold on the PCA Skin website, Dermstore.com, Lookfantastic US, Skinstore.com, b-glowing.com, Lovelyskin.com, Nordstrom, and more. Nevertheless, always look for an authorized retailer.

Ingredient list: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isosorbide Dicaprylate, Isoamyl Laurate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Panthenol, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Pentylene Glycol, Polysilicone-11, Retinol, Terminalia Chebula Fruit Extract, Hexyldecanol, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Polyacrylate, Polyglyceryl-10 Dioleate, Butylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Callus Culture Extract, Phytosterols, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyeride, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Squalene, Lecithin, Isoamyl Cocoate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Citrate, 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Trideceth-6, Superoxide Dismutase, Bisabolol, Decyl Glucoside, Cetylhydroxyproline Palmitamide, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Stearic Acid, Myristoyl Nonapeptide-3, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract



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