a Retinal confidential
Welcome to another post where we discuss some interesting KBeauty discoveries. Today we will chat about my first Retinal product (not to be confused with Retinol) by a brand called HSGN. I took my sweet time to really test it and below are my thoughts.
Curious? Then please keep on scrolling
My Skin: dry, sensitive
About the Product
Before discussing the product, let's clarify the difference between Retinol and Retinal. In short, Retinal is a more potent variation of the famous Vitamin A derivative. It is the closest thing you can find to prescription formulas. Ideally, you would use it if you want to level up your Vitamin A-game, well aware that your skin is friends with Retinol. If you are a beginner, start with Retinol as it is gentler, and over time move on to Retinal (that is if you want faster results).
HSGN Retinally Liposomal Retinal Cream (22 USD; Made in Korea) - is described as a 0.05% stabilized Retinal cream that is here to prevent fine lines and wrinkles, brighten the skin tone, smooth out texture, and more.
Packaging: the cream comes in a petite tube containing 20 ml/ 0.68 fl oz worth of product. This packaging is hygienic (thanks to its airless lock) and travel-friendly.
Formula: besides the main ingredient Retinal, you also get a star-studded mix of Glycerin (occlusive layer/hydration), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Squalane (UV damage protection), Ceramides, and Hyaluronic Acid (listed towards the end, so its content is relatively small).
Texture: the Retinally Liposomal Retinal Cream has a creamy/balmy consistency that feels lightweight and easy to blend. The cream has a natural light yellow color to it, which applies sheer.
Application: since this is a potent anti-aging and skin-cell renewing product, it is best applied at night. Now, the application order will vary, depending on how familiar you are with the Retinol products. If you are a newbie, you might mix it with your moisturizer first (to dilute it) or apply the Retinally Liposomal Retinal Cream as the last step of your night-time routine. Ideally, once a week, and if all works well, add more days as you go. If you are an experienced Vitamin A user, you can apply this product after your serum, before moisturizer. Anything from a grain to a pearl-sized amount should work.
Make sure to always wear sun protection in the morning.
If pregnant, avoid this product altogether.
I am relatively new to Retinol, where I have only played with mild formulas in the past. Initially, I was a bit worried about how Retinal would affect my sensitive skin, so I started with a smaller amount first and only limited it to one area (my forehead for example, which experiences more texture than the rest of my face). After the first few uses, I noticed slight purging which is a completely normal reaction of a cell turnover. Eventually, it subsided and I started applying the Retinally Liposomal Retinal Cream all over as a serum and layering a rich cream on top to prevent dryness. An improvement in texture occurred around the 2-week mark.
Once the skin gets used to the potency of this cream, it is a smooth ride from there on. At the moment I use this product twice a week, and have noticed clearer pores, smoother texture, and smaller fine lines. Occasional spots heal faster as well. While the formula is not quite hydrating for my dry skin, it still gets the job done and so far I am enjoying it.
If you are on the hunt for unique yet affordable Korean skincare, something with Retinal specifically, I think this product might pique your interest. Although potent, it is still gentle enough that you can increase the use gradually without experiencing side effects. A formula like this can easily work for most skin types, as it is neither overly thick nor watery so it can be easily sandwiched in-between different products. My little experiment turned out great and I am giving this formula a solid B+.
PR samples; full disclaimer here