Here is the original routine we are reviewing: https://whatsinmyjar.com/posts/792/how-to-minimize-eye-lines-and-anti-aging.
The goal of this week's makeover is targeting signs of aging, especially in the eye area. Both the original and new routines are for a skin that is not particularly sensitive.
Alfra's original routine uses a few SkinCeuticals products. While it's a great brand, it comes with a significant price tag. We've suggested a better use of the budget with more potent actives. We reduced the number of products, but still kept the bar high for the elegance of the formulations. The new routine is still in the "skincare investment" category, but it packs a punch for fighting photodamage.
–Issues in the original routine–
The strongest, most proven active in the original routine is ascorbic acid in the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum. It is a cult and an effective product - beyond any doubt, so we kept it. We are less impressed with with two SkinCeuticals moistruizers though. The SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex for Dark Circles can certainly improve the skin hydration, but there are limited evidence that the vitamin C derivative in it can do much for signs of aging or dark circles. The best ingredients in this product are peptides.
We are also not too impressed by the SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. It has a good but basic silicone-based moisturizing formula with glycerin and ceramides, but also includes a bunch of common irritants that risk disturbing the skin barrier, potentially undoing its hydrating benefit.
Alfra also uses a strong glycolic acid peel twice a week. Concentrated glycolic peels indeed can help fight the signs of aging if used regularly over a long period of time. The issue with this particular product, M-61 PowerGlow Peel, is that it contains alcohol and very common irritants in addition to a high percentage of acids. This is a very unfortunate combo, because the acids multiply the chances of the irritants to penetrate the skin barrier and cause trouble.
In sum, we see a room for decreasing the irritation risk of this routine, while keeping the existing good actives, and even adding a few new ones.
–Changes we recommend–
We removed the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner. It smells divine, but the main skin benefit in it comes from glycerin, and there is no need to spend time and money on it in a separate product. Instead, we added Pestle & Mortar Pestle and Mortar NMF Lactic Toner. Pestle and Mortar toner contains a low percentage of PHAs that help support the skin acid mantle, improve hydration and have a very mild exfoliation effect. It should be gentle enough for daily application if the skin is not very sensitive. The toner also contains about 2% of niacinamide (anti-aging & anti-pigment) and hydrating glycerin.
Then, we recommend to replace the two SkinCeuticals moisturizers with one product that can be applied all over the face, including the eye area. We chose a luxurious Glowbiotics MD Gentle Probiotic Hydrating Lotion with hydrating fermented ingredients, peptides, linoleic acid (supports skin barrier), shea butter and about 1% of niacinamide.
For the cleansing step, we suggested a gentle Milky Lotion Cleanser from Epionce.
After cleansing in the PM, we introduced a potent anti-aging active - retinal. It is an effective retinoid that is usually way less irritating than retinol. For most people, retinal in moderate concentrations does not cause irritation problems in the eye area. There are dedicated eye creams with retinal, but we chose a product from Avene that one can again apply all over the face.
Even though retinal is more gentle compared to other effective retinoids, we still recommend to start cautiously. It's a good idea to apply it every other night for the first week or two. This would give the skin time to get used to it to avoid an irritation.
The Avene retinal product should be moisturizing enough on its own. If the skin feels dry though, there is no harm in using the Glowbiotics moisturizer on top.
Finally, we've replaced the M-61 PowerGlow Peel with Neostrata High Potency Cream AHA 20. The Neostrata product does not contain "empty irritants", but it is stronger than the M-61 PowerGlow Peel. This is why we recommend using it only once per week.
The resulting routine is shorter and even slightly less expensive than the original one. Still, all the products are high-end and boast nice textures. Most importantly, the skin benefit is higher: we kept the ascorbic acid from the Skinceutical C E Ferulic, kept peptides and ceramides in the new products (the toner and moisturizer), and added a potent anti-aging retinal as well as niacinamide.