Replenix All Trans Retinol Smoothing Serum 2X
1 fl. oz. for $58.80
Category:Skin Care > Serums
Last Updated:12.10.2012
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Topix sells four Retinol Smoothing Serums; each with varying amounts of retinol designed for different skin types and for those who want to either use a certain amount of retinol or increase the amount of retinol they use as their skin acclimates to the previous (lower) amount they were applying. Each serum is silicone-based and fragrance-free; in fact, save for the amounts of retinol they are nearly identical.

The company advises those with normal skin to use the 3X formula while those with sensitive skin or first-time retinol users should go for the 2X formula. Those with "more tolerant skin" are advised to use the 5X formula. Although the amount of retinol is a factor, it ultimately comes down to experimentation to see how your skin responds. The more retinol your skin can handle, the more it can benefit your skin but as we explain in More Info, overdoing retinol can also lead to problems.

Topix refers to the retinol in their products as "all trans retinol" but that is just another name for retinol, and retinol is just the technical name for the entire vitamin A molecule. There is nothing different or unique about all-trans-retinol; it is just vitamin A. If anything, the name "all trans retinol" can be misleading as it is easily confused with the prescription ingredient all-trans-retinoic acid which is what retinol converts to when absorbed into skin. All-trans-retinoic acid is the active ingredient in Renova and Retin-A among other prescription and generic brands. See More Info to learn how retinol and all-trans-retinoic acid can benefit skin.

Each Topix Replenix retinol serum seems to contain an efficacious amount of retinol—and it's helpful that Topix uses a "rating system" of sorts so you have an idea of which retinol products are stronger than others, though each of their Retinol Smoothing Serums is more similar than you might think.

This serum is a good option to consider, as it gives skin retinol plus the antioxidants green tea, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid. All of these anti-aging ingredients have research attesting to their benefits for skin. What would propel this retinol serum to our highest rating would be a larger mix of skin-repairing ingredients and more antioxidants. Caffeine and green tea are good, but there are lots of others that are more potent, including those that can help offset the potential irritation from retinol (and it is questionable whether or not caffeine fits in that category). See our list of Best Retinol Serums for superior options, including some that cost less. If you decide to try this Replenix serum, it is suitable for all skin types.

  • Very silky texture.
  • Fragrance-free formula suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Contains retinol plus antioxidant green tea and repairing hyaluronic acid.
  • Would be better with a greater range of beneficial anti-aging ingredients.
More Info:

Retinol is the entire vitamin A molecule. It's effective because when absorbed into your skin, it is broken down and converted into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the compound that actually can affect skin cells and their behavior, leading to smoother, younger, more even skin. Both the cosmetic forms and the prescription forms of vitamin A can cause irritation, but, as you would expect, the highest risk of irritation is with the prescription forms (often referred to as retinoids).

Many consumers are concerned about the percentage of retinol in anti-aging products such as serums or moisturizers. Although the percentage of retinol can make a difference because the more retinol you apply the more is available to convert to the active form of all-trans- retinoic acid, too much retinol can cause irritation and too little has no benefit at all. Although the amount is a factor, what's just as important is the delivery system (the ingredients that help retinol absorb into skin), packaging (which needs to minimize air exposure as retinol breaks down when exposed to air), and what other ingredients the retinol is paired with.

Using a product with a range of anti-aging ingredients plus retinol is far more valuable for skin than using a product with only a supposedly high percentage of retinol (or vitamin C, or niacinamide, or green tea, or ubiquinone, and on and on). Skin is the largest organ of the body and needs far more than any one ingredient can provide. It doesn't make skin-sense to focus on the percentage of retinol when so many other elements are also important when considering a product with retinol.


This serum assists in achieving smoother, firmer and more evenly toned skin. Retinol helps achieve more radiant-looking skin while delivering the skin enhancing benefits of Green Tea Polyphenols.


Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclomethicone, PEG/PPG 18/18 Dimethicone, Caffeine, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Polyphenols, Retinol, Polysorbate-20, Purified Water, Hyaluronic Acid

Brand Overview

Topix At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance-free; packaging keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; several good products with retinol in varying strengths; good moisturizers and cleansers; very good body lotions.

Weaknesses: Expensive; the physician allure may seem enticing, but these products do not require a doctor's visit or medical supervision; no AHA or BHA exfoliants; no viable skin-lightening options; fragrant toner; the growth factors in the Citrix serums are potentially risky ingredients.

Topix is best known for its two chief skin-care brands, Replenix and Citrix. Of the two, we're asked most often about the Replenix collection; the Citrix line is smaller and focused on anti-aging products with vitamin C. The Replenix products contain a broader range of anti-aging ingredients, such as retinol, green tea, and grape-derived resveratrol, and the claims are broader, too—so little surprise that the Replenix products appeal to more people concerned with signs of aging. Both Replenix and Citrix offer fragrance-free formulas, albeit at fairly high prices, which is typical of most physician-dispensed lines.

A chief selling point of Topix is its physician-dispensed angle, which gives the products a medical élan; in truth, however, not a single ingredient in these products is "medicinal," prescription, or exclusive to physician-sold products. That is, you don't need to see a doctor to be "prescribed" Topix products; rather, they can be obtained from several websites, no appointment necessary. The big question is whether or not you should add any Topix products to your shopping cart—and the answer is "it depends."

Within the Replenix line, the most interesting products include the serums and moisturizers. Although none of them are superior to the best options available, most of them do offer good (though pricey) formulas that treat skin to a range of beneficial ingredients.

If you're keen on retinol (and it's a great anti-aging ingredient), Replenix has you covered with several serums offering different strengths of retinol. The various strengths allow you to "step up" to stronger retinol products once your skin has acclimated to the lower strengths. Although that sounds intriguing, it's not really necessary. As we explain in the reviews, more retinol is not necessarily better, and some may find the higher-strength retinol products too sensitizing, so caution is warranted. Indeed, some people cannot tolerate any amount of retinol!

The Citrix products aren't all that exciting unless you want vitamin C in every product. Although there's nothing wrong with vitamin C, it's a mistaken notion to focus on one hero ingredient because skin requires a variety of beneficial ingredients to look and act younger. Topix also adds growth factors to their Citrix serums, but these growth-factor ingredients are unproven for topical use and may present risks (we explain why in the reviews). In short, Citrix isn't all that exciting, and several of these products fall short in one way or another.

Our research revealed that Topix has some intriguing products, but, with few exceptions, there is nothing that you cannot find elsewhere for less money. It's important to let go of the notion that skin-care products sold at a doctor's office are superior to those sold elsewhere. The truth is: There are good and bad products in every retail outlet—knowing what you're buying is more important than where you're buying it or who's selling it!

For more information about Topix, call (800) 445-2595 or visit www.topixpharm.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.

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