Review // Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5


If, like me, you’ve delayed incorporating a dedicated retinol serum into your routine because you are either terrified, or haven’t found one that works for you, then I’ve got some good news for you! I’ve found ‘The One’ for beginners: the Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5.

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A and is the form most easily absorbed by the body. It acts as an antioxidant and collagen stimulator simultaneously, so not only does it protect your skin against damage by free radicals (sun, pollution etc), but it also stimulates cell turnover, thereby lessening the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. Additional benefits include an improvement in hydration and skin laxity, a smoother skin texture, an improvement in breakouts, blemishes and bumps, a reduction in excess oil production, as well as a healthier, youthful glow. What’s not to like, am I right?

I have tried a few retinol serums in the past, but the combination of my sensitive skin and my inability to do anything gradually (always been a fan of instant gratification) meant that it always ended in tears. As I’m now almost 35 (pray for me), I decided that it was time to dedicate a permanent place in my routine to retinol, and Dr Nikolic recommended that I start with the Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5. Regular readers will be familiar with Dr Nikolic – he is a world-renowned aesthetic medical practitioner and he has been administering my Botox for the past seven years. He is also the founder of SkinMiles, a leading online dermaceutical store which stocks only the finest local and international skincare brands.

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5 is a medium strength anti-ageing serum which contains Retinol Complex 0.5%. This Retinol Complex repairs and protects damaged skin, stimulates the renewal of skin cells and regulates the migration and transformation of keratinocytes (the cells responsible for the formation of the skin’s barrier). It also contains antioxidants, to help to combat/limit the signs of photoageing, and a cocktail of hydrating and nourishing actives to reinforce the skin barrier.

If you’re new to retinol, Dr Nikolic recommends incorporating this serum by applying it every third night for two weeks, then every second night for three weeks and then every night after that. I followed his instructions to the letter and experienced no irritation or flare-ups, only gloriously smooth, glowing skin! I have seen such impressive results with this serum – I noticed a real improvement in the texture and clarity of my skin, and I feel like my complexion is generally much more radiant. Whilst I’m not currently using it every evening, my skin continues to respond well, and I can’t imagine my routine without it. Retinol is one of those products where, if you incorporate it sensibly, you are guaranteed to see a marked improvement in the condition of your skin, and this offering from Dermaceutic is the perfect place to start.

While I’ve got you here, a quick side note about the application of retinols and acids, as it appears to be a bit of a contentious issue: apparently you shouldn’t layer them because the pH of AHA’s and BHA’s can reduce the effectiveness of retinol, and using the two simultaneously can also cause irritation by over-exfoliating the skin (you can read more here). I asked Dr. Nikolic for his opinion and he advised as follows:

“There is only one study that shows this and unfortunately the study was not done on human skin but rather in a petri dish (in fact the study does state that one cannot compare results to what will happen in skin).

Secondly, Retinol is not an exfoliator: there is no evidence that retinol exfoliates skin. Retinol can cause a flaking reaction for some people, but this side effect (which is often temporary) is not the same as exfoliation. AHA work more superficially while retinol works on all of the layers of the skin. It is 100% correct to say that one can experience more irritation but studies have actually shown that the combination of the two potentiates the effect of retinol.”

So there you have it: if your skin can tolerate the application of acids and retinols, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t use them simultaneously. As always though, err on the side of caution, and if you notice any kind of reaction, it’s best to hold off and rather apply them on alternate evenings.

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5 retails for R972.00 and is available from SkinMiles.