The Paula's Choice Team only included a fraction of the long list of claims tied to this retinol product, but wow, is Dr. Obagi being boastful! Who wouldn't be tempted by a product claiming to work better and faster than any other anti-aging product?
As is turns out, despite the take-notice claims, this is not the most powerful or best anti-aging product available. First, Dr. Obagi's ZO Skin Health brand isn't the only game in town when you're looking for products with 1% retinol. SkinCeuticals and Green Cream have offered this strength for years, and SkinCeuticals gets its formula right. ZO Skin Health most likely does contain 1% retinol, but the formula also contains menthol and a pepper extract that only serve to cause irritation. Given that many people will find 1% retinol quite irritating on its own, it's a huge insult and completely unnecessary to add needless irritants! What was Dr. Obagi thinking?
There's also the fact that treating aging skin to one "star" ingredient is short-sighted. Much like we need a varied diet to get the most nutrient impact from the foods we eat, our skin needs a variety of ingredients to help it look, act, and feel younger. Retinol is a great anti-wrinkle ingredient, but it's far from the only one you should be using (assuming your skin can tolerate retinol).
Needless to say, Ossential Radical Night Repair Plus isn't radical or recommended. There are too many brilliant retinol products to make this uber-pricey option worth considering, even if it didn't contain problematic ingredients. Believe it or not, ZO Skin Health recommends this for those with sensitive skin. Unbelievable!
By the way, although 1% retinol sounds super-potent and impressive (it is quite potent) there is no substantiated research proving it is better for wrinkles than lower concentrations. With any retinol product there's a delicate balance: retinol can be irritating, and the goal is to tip the scale in favor of anti-wrinkle/skin-firming benefits without causing your skin undue stress. The Paula's Choice Team has recommended products (such as the aforementioned retinol product from SkinCeuticals) with 1% retinol in the past, but it's a provisional rather than essential approval. Generally speaking, products that contain between 0.1-0.4% retinol are best (Sources: The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, Volume 20, 2009, pages 276-281; Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, October 2009, pages 932-936; and Archives of Dermatology, May 2007, pages 606-612). That range offers retinol's anti-wrinkle benefits without causing excessive flaking and irritation, though some people cannot tolerate retinol in any amount. Please see our list of Best Retinol Products for options that not only cost less than this but don't expose your skin to needless irritants that get in the way of retinol's anti-aging benefits.
Ossential Radical Night Repair Plus features the highest concentration of retinol in an over-the-counter product (6X-10X higher than traditional retinol products). Retinol causes new collagen to be formed in chronologically-aged skin and skin damaged by UV rays. It is the most effective topical anti-aging ingredient, because it assists in the process of repairing and rebuilding collagen. Given the high concentration of retinol, Ossential® Radical Night Repair Plus works faster, and more effectively, than any other anti-aging product.
Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Methyl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Mannitol, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dextrin, Ascorbic Acid, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract , Sodium Citrate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, BHT, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Bisabolol, Ubiquinone, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Capsicum Frutescens Fruit Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Propyl Gallate, Menthol, Beta-Carotene
The "Zo" in Zo Skin Health are the initials of this line's creator, Dr. Zein Obagi. You may recall Obagi, this dermatologist's original namesake skin-care line, which initially was sold only in physicians' offices. Why he decided to create another line with an indirect and confusing association with his first brand is a question we couldn't get the company to answer to our satisfaction. We suspect this is just a way for him to sell his products to the mainstream market while also maintaining the exclusive dermatological bent for his earlier line. Actually, Obagi, the original line, is available online from lots of other skin-care sites as well, and there is no exclusive dermatology angle any more. In total, this adds up to ridiculous marketing nonsense that is neither medical nor good for your skin, and it’s all needlessly expensive. Whether or not women's interest will be sparked by the alleged formulary expertise, or by the blessing, of a dermatologist is yet to be seen.
The main differences between the original Obagi line and the Zo Skin Health line are that the Obagi line offers a couple prescription-only products that contain 4% hydroquinone and tretinoin. Curiously, some of the Zo Skin Health products have distinctly better formulas than similar products in the original Obagi line. The only other differences you'll find are packaging and the fact that Zo Skin Health products cost more.
As it turns out, despite a price point that's far from reasonable, there are more formulary victories than defeats in the Zo Skin Health collection. For the most part, this line does a good job of offering consumers formidable options to improve the appearance of skin and (in the case of sunscreens) to prevent further damage to aging skin. This is a worthwhile line if you're looking for products with retinol that also contain other state-of-the-art ingredients (most retinol products are one-note formularies).
The body-care products are also a cut above, though again, the prices are definitely not easy on the pocketbook. However, there are less expensive options, so there's no need to worry if you can't afford this line. Zo Skin Health is not one-stop shopping for all manner of sun-damaged or aging skin and it also isn't comprehensive enough to meet everyone's needs and preferences. However, formula- and appearance-wise it bests much of what Obagi touts as state-of-the-art in his original line. Ideally, he should've parlayed the best formulas devised for Zo Skin Health products into the Obagi line products because that would ostensibly give him reason to weed out the average to poor products that are still available.
For more information about Zo Skin Health, call 888-893-1375 or visit www.zoskinhealth.com.