I’m going to start out by saying that I went back and forth trying to decide if I even wanted to publish this. It’s extremely hard to admit that you made a mistake, much less get online to declare it to anyone with internet access. But that’s what I am about to do, so I can at least warn others out there to beware: Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni retinol is no joke.
A-Passioni Retinol Cream contains 1% vegan retinol, along with a host of other ingredients that are meant to nourish the skin. (You can check out those ingredients and their uses on Drunk Elephant’s site.) Supposedly this formulation delivers the coveted results of retinol but without the redness and irritation. Most articles that you read about this it describe it as “gentle” and “not like other retinols.” Ahem. I beg to differ.
Now this is the part where I admit that I should have done more research before diving into this stuff. I had used maybe one retinol product before this (a RoC serum), and I mistakenly believed I was ready to step things up.
Up until this point, I honestly didn’t think my skin was that terribly sensitive. My skin isn’t usually irritated easily, so I thought perhaps I would be ok with A-Passioni. I have mild rosecea on my cheeks, but I didn’t realize that it was indicative of sensitive skin. This seems like it would be fairly obvious, but I truly had no idea that the two went hand-in-hand. So if you didn’t know that before, now you know too! If you have rosecea, your skin will most likely not tolerate retinol well.
What follows is a week-by-week documentation of how my skin reacted to A-Passioni. I will warn you, it was not a good time for my skin.
I’m starting out with just once a week, as I’ve seen other people on Instagram say that the retinol dried them out significantly. I’m using a pea-sized amount (recommended in the directions) mixed into my moisturizer to dilute it somewhat. The texture is somewhat richer than I normally go for, but I’m ok with it for the nighttime. The first night I used it, I was impressed by how nice the cream made my skin look. It was plump and healthy looking, and this continued into the next day. However, my skin began feeling extremely sensitized within 24 hours, and it stung when I put almost any other product on it. Two days after the initial application, the extreme peeling began. And when I say extreme, I mean it was an all over sloughing off of my skin. It was like my entire face had been sunburned, and the dead top layer had to go. The whole peeling process took 4 days, and my skin was somewhat splotchy/red during that time. My rosacea also flared up a bit more during those days, but it mostly was calmed by the 6th day. Thankfully, over the course of the week my skin mostly righted itself, but still remained somewhat drier than before.
My experience this week was essentially a repeat of last week, though I think the peeling wrapped up a day earlier. My skin is still dry as a desert, which is a strange experience. Normally my oily/combo skin produces oil throughout the day, but that seems to have almost stopped.
Another week, another peel. I’ve noticed that my skin is expelling blackheads, and I have no active pimples at this point. The retinol seems to be controlling my breakouts well! The sensitivity is still about the same, so I’m hoping for some improvement soon in that area.
This week I decided to split my retinol up into 2 separate applications. I used half of the recommended dose on Saturday, and then the other half on Thursday. I’m still mixing with my other moisturizer to dilute the retinol. Thankfully this seemed to cut down on the extreme sensitivity, and the peeling was not quite as bad as before.
I continued with the strategy of splitting up a single use, and I’ve established that I much prefer that approach! Both the first and second use I had some peeling, with the most significant amount happening around my eyebrows and mouth. Hopefully it’s winding down? Maybe I’m being too optimistic!
This week I did one half serving, and then the second day I upped it to the normal pea-size amount. I’m back to the same amount of peeling, but the sensitivity has gone down significantly from the level at which it started. I’ll be honest, 6 straight weeks of this has been extremely trying. I’m at a point that I want to just give this up, as it seems like my skin is just never going to acclimate to this product. I’m going to hold out another couple of weeks though, because I want to give it a fair chance.
This has been a mixed week. I made the mistake of following up a full amount last week with another full size amount this week, and the result was extremely tight, reddened skin. My roseacea was positively out of control. I had to take the rest of the week off to try to heal my compromised skin, and it took about 3 days for the redness to finally go down. That being said, after several days of working my skin back to normalcy, it looks amazing. it feels incredibly smooth to the touch, my pores look smaller, and the fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes have lessened. I will be returning to my retinol use this coming week, but I will be keeping the doses small to ensure I don’t have another redness outbreak.
I was able to do 2 days of use with just quarter size servings this week, with a small amount of peeling around my eyebrows and mouth. My skin is tight and dry, and I’m growing tired of constantly having to fight the extra redness that is occurring. I’m getting break outs on my cheeks, which doesn’t normally happen. I think it’s time to take a break from this stuff.
Afterward: Three Weeks Later
I finished up my usage of A-Passioni with an extremely compromised moisture barrier. It took about a week to help calm my rosecea, and yet another week to help get rid of the extreme dryness. This toner that I reviewed was helpful in the process of getting my skin back to normal. I had one brief, strange moment of fantastic skin while using this stuff, but otherwise it looked irritated and dry a good portion of the time. I wouldn’t ever recommend this to anyone with sensitive skin.
In a nutshell, don’t do what I did, guys. Do your research, and make sure that your skin is ready for this percentage of retinol. If you know your skin is easily irritated, avoid A-Passioni! Your skin will thank you for it!
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