Retinol is a powerfully effective and scientifically proven ingredient. That being said, it can be hard to know when/how to start using it. Skincare products with retinol have a variety of uses beyond just tackling wrinkles. They exfoliate the skin, reduce the appearance of pores and blackheads, help treat acne, and even out the skin tone. Retinol does all of these things by dramatically increasing the rate of cell turnover. Because it is a multi-purpose product that can improve your skin’s overall appearance, it’s not an ingredient that you need to wait until your 30s to utilize! Paula’s Choice Barrier Repair Moisturizer from their Resist line is an amazing product for beginning retinol users, or for people with sensitive skin that have to avoid stronger formulations. I’ve been using this moisturizer for six months now, and I’m incredibly happy with how my skin has changed over that time.
The ingredients list for the Barrier Repair Moisturizer is as follows:
Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate (emollient), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Ethylhexyl Stearate (texture-enhancing), Cocoglycerides (emollient), Butyrospermum Parkii Butter (shea butter/antioxidant/emollient), Squalane (emollient), Sodium Polyacrylate (texture-enhancing), Lecithin (skin-restoring), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Ceramide NP (hydration/skin replenishing), Retinol (skin-restoring), Punica Granatum Extract (pomegranate extract/antioxidant), Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract (green tea extract/antioxidant), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane (antioxidant), Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane (antioxidant), Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane (antioxidant), Tocopheryl Acetate (antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Flower Extract (skin-soothing), Glycine Soja Seed Extract (soybean extract/antioxidant), Glycine Soja Oil (soybean oil/emollient/antioxidant), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Propylene Glycol (hydration), Glyceryl Polymethacrylate (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).
I copied this list from the Paula’s Choice website, and what I love about it is that they already include an explanation of each ingredient within the list! It certainly makes my work easier!
The retinol concentration in this moisturizer is 0.01%, which is a FANTASTIC place to start if you are just beginning your retinol use. If you have sensitive skin and have avoided using retinol because of irritation concerns, this could be a good option. A 0.01% concentration might not sound like much, but the highest amount of retinol you can get in a product without a prescription is 2%.
As the name communicates, the Barrier Repair Moisturizer is meant to pump up your skin’s barrier and help prevent moisture loss. It also contains a blend of antioxidants to help protect and repair your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.
I started using this moisturizer back in December 2019, and as of publishing this post, I’ve been using it for six months. I’m still on the same bottle, which speaks volumes of the longevity of this product!
I’ve experienced a variety of retinol, retinoid, and bakuchiol products at this point, so I feel I can speak from a place of familiarity, ha! (To read about the time I naively thought I was ready for a 1% concentration and nearly blew my own face off with A-Passioni, click here.)
As a note, I have combination skin with rosacea that tends to be sensitive. How my skin reacted to this product may not be how yours reacts, depending on your skin type.
The directions on the Barrier Repair Moisturizer say that you can use it day and night, but I prefer to stick to the nighttime. This is just a personal preference, but since retinol can cause sun sensitivity, I prefer to play it safe and avoid using it during the day. I stay diligent applying my sunscreen in the morning too!
Because I’m extra careful when it comes to retinol, I started out just using one pump of this every other day on my skin. Eventually, I worked my way up to two pumps of product. I tend to use it for two or three days, then I’ll take a day off.
In terms of texture, this is a pleasantly light, non-greasy formula. For me, this alone isn’t quite enough moisture. I still like to layer an oil over this, as well as a sleeping mask if I feel I need it.
Initially, my skin was extra dry, and it felt somewhat sensitized during the first couple of months. I had a small amount of flaking, but nothing too obvious.
I didn’t have a massive purge with this product, but I did notice that I had some blackheads begin to work their way out of my forehead. Another positive effect was that the closed comedones around my chin area began to make their way to my skin’s surface. Those nasty comedones have a habit of blowing up and becoming huge zits around that special time of the month, so I’m happy that they’re gone!
I tend to get a lot of small pimples around the sides of my nose, but I have noticed a significant reduction of those in the last several months.
At the present time, my skin looks and feels significantly smoother. I don’t think the fine lines on my forehead have changed much in appearance, but the light lines around my eyes seem less noticeable. (Granted, I think this is also due to the introduction of The Ordinary’s Hemi-Squalane Oil into my routine.) I have less congestion, and overall I feel that my skin is in a better place now.
The Barrier Repair Moisturizer sells for $33 on the Paula’s Choice website, and given how long it can last, I think this is a good deal! As a side note, Paula’s Choice products are also cruelty-free.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of starting retinol, this super low concentration is a good starting point. For those of you that might have sensitive skin like me, this formulation could be a gentle option.
Ideally, we all want to avoid that uncomfortable irritation that occurs with retinization. While the process of getting used to this retinol wasn’t without its dry moments, it wasn’t anything that I felt I couldn’t control with other healing products. I never felt like things were getting out of hand or that my skin was in a distressed state.
The Paula’s Choice Barrier Repair Moisturizer was a gentle, easy way for me to get some retinol in my life. I plan on continuing to use it and maybe work my way up to another Paula’s Choice product with a slightly higher concentration.
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. This post was not sponsored, nor does it contain any affiliate links. All links provided are solely for the convenience of the reader.