Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream with 1.0% Pure Retinol
1 fl. oz. for $70
Last Updated:08.26.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream with 1.0% Pure Retinol is similar to SkinCeutical’s Retinol 0.5 product, except it contains twice as much retinol. The formula has a silky texture that treats skin to a nice mix of anti-aging ingredients, including skin-repairing ceramides.

Caution is warranted because using retinol at this level (1%) poses a slight risk of side effects that are similar to, but less pronounced than, those caused by topical tretinoin, including redness, flaking/peeling, and possibly stinging. These effects should be short-term as the skin acclimates to retinol, but if they do not dissipate or if they worsen with continued use, stop using the product; retinol at this strength may not be right for your skin.

Note that this product is not recommended for daytime use because it contains the plant extract St. John’s Wort (listed by its Latin name of Hypericum perforatum) which has the potential to trigger a negative reaction on sun-exposed skin. As with any retinol or anti-aging product, daily application of a sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater is a must.

Note: This product's original rating was "BEST," but it is now rated "GOOD" because it contains a preservative (methylisothiazolinone) that’s a known sensitizer when used in leave-on products. If you decide to use this retinol product, pay close attention to how your skin responds, and discontinue use if you experience a sensitized reaction.)


Perfect for problematic and photo-damaged skin, Retinol 1.0 contains 1% pure retinol, the highest concentration currently available, and should be used for advanced treatment of pre-conditioned skin. Designed for maximum efficacy and stability, SkinCeuticals Retinol is formulated with highest concentrations of pure retinol available and enhanced with the latest stabilization and delivery technologies.


Water, Cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Laureth-4, Laureth-23, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Butyorspermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ceramide 2, Ceramide 3, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Hypericum Perforatum Extract, Propylene Glycol, Allyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 20, Retinol, BHT, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dimethicone PEG-7 Isostearate, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Leureth-7, Bisabolol. Rosa Canina Leaf Extract, Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matreicaria) Leaf Extract, Citric Acid, Methylsothiazolinone, Tetrasodium EDTA

Brand Overview

SkinCeuticals At-A-Glance

Strengths: Great line to shop if you're looking for well-formulated vitamin C and retinol products; some outstanding sunscreens (including for sensitive skin), and every one provides sufficient UVA protection; one effective AHA product; good self-tanner; several fragrance-free products.

Weaknesses: Mostly problematic cleansers and toners; fruit and sugar extracts trying to substitute for AHA products when the real deal is much better; ineffective BHA products; jar packaging.

With a strong presence in the professional (meaning spa and aesthetics) skin-care market, SkinCeuticals has a mostly well-deserved reputation for producing serious-minded, research-driven products, several of which are centered on L-ascorbic acid. Company founder Dr. Sheldon Pinnell began the line after a falling out with the folks behind Cellex-C, a company for which Dr. Pinnell once served as spokesperson. The falling out had to do with both Cellex-C and Dr. Pinnell holding patents on L-ascorbic acid; Cellex-C held the patent on a formula with L-ascorbic acid (the original Cellex-C serum) while Dr. Pinnell's patent (now conspicuously absent from SkinCeuticals products) was only for the ingredient. The drama continued as, years later, the doctor who joined Pinnell to work on SkinCeuticals' vitamin C products began his own company, also selling products with vitamin C. Who needs Desperate Housewives when we have desperate doctors racing to be the authoritative word on the anti-aging properties of vitamin C?

The good news is that copious research has demonstrated that L-ascorbic acid (despite its stability issues, which, formula-wise, SkinCeuticals products do address) is a good, potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It has also been shown to provide photoprotective benefits when skin is exposed to UV light and is capable of stimulating collagen production - though don't take that to mean it is a cure for wrinkles (Sources: International Journal of Toxicology, 2005, supplement, pages 51–111; Experimental Dermatology, June 2003, pages 237–244; Dermatologic Surgery, March 2002, pages 231–236; Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, May 1999, pages 453–461; and International Journal of Radiation Biology, June 1999, pages 747–755). Of course, other forms of vitamin C have equally impressive research, and some forms, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, have better stability profiles (Source: Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, March 1997, pages 795–801).

As we've mentioned before, vitamin C is but one of many good antioxidants, and it's not the best approach to select any one or two antioxidants and bank on them alone to provide every conceivable skin-rejuvenating benefit. Instead, go for products that offer a cocktail of antioxidants because you'll get a greater range of benefits. Plus, some antioxidants in combination have a synergistic effect that surpasses what occurs when any of the ingredients are used alone. SkinCeuticals clearly knows this, because their vitamin C products also contain the antioxidant ferulic acid, and some add vitamin E to the mix as well. Above all, remember that as multifunctional as antioxidants are, they cannot stop aging, they won't eliminate wrinkles, and they do not replace the need for daily sun protection.

L'Oreal purchased SkinCeuticals in May 2005, and, for the time being, seems to be letting them stay on their course. That's a good thing, because despite L'Oreal’s considerable financial reserves and global R&D team, the skin-care products their brands produce consistently lag behind what current research indicates are state-of-the-art options. As long as they continue to let SkinCeuticals retain its stature, there are many good reasons to shop this line; however, that said, this line is far from perfect in terms of being able to assemble a complete skin-care routine. Focusing on what they do best (which is serums, sunscreens, and specialty products) will be money well spent for visible results. Those who find the SkinCeuticals price tags to be a deal-breaker need to know that despite several notable products, they're hardly the only game in town; you can find equally superior products for less money, though not all of them follow the impressive concentration protocols of SkinCeuticals.

For more information about SkinCeuticals, call 1-800-771-9489 or visit www.skinceuticals.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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The REAL deal!!!

I've used PC Skin recovery Retinol and Resist Intensive Wrinkle Retinol. As 10yr+ PC user, I am disappointed that they will not disclose concentration of retinol. That is KEY information. After a podcast alluded that these products were less than .5%, I decided to look elsewhere. THIS product is the strongest you can buy. I had NO burning when applied. At first I thought I got a bad tube. But 2-3 days later. I noticed some mild flakes. Got rid on milia in 1 week!!! Glad I found this!

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