If I lived in the opening credits of Grease, the morning after trying Skinbetter’s Alpharet Overnight Cream would probably look like this: I’d roll out of bed, sneak into the bathroom, slide my hair off my face, and into the Looking in mirrors and – eee er eee er eee er, my comic hands would wipe my eyes while I tried to take in my reflection. I’m glowing! Fat is the word!
OK, sure, that’s an animated exaggeration. But I really noticed a difference in the texture of my skin after my first use. The thing is, Alpharet is kind of a dermatologist secret. You have to buy it through an authorized doctor, and Skinbetter’s website directory is like a who-is-who of top Manhattan derms. I only found out about the brand when Sofie Pavitt left the message on her top shelf and raved about this retinoid-AHA hybrid. After three weeks of being used every other night, my complexion was more even, less red, and much smoother than when I started, and now that I’ve been using it for almost two months, I don’t have a bad word to talk about could it.
AHAs and retinoids work synergistically for a smoother complexion as they work on different layers of the skin. But … the focus is on the can. “We already know about the effectiveness of these ingredients,” says Dr. Diane Berson, a Manhattan dermatologist who specializes in acne and wrinkle prevention. “But like everything in dermatology, you always have to balance effectiveness and tolerance.” Many people (like me) find retinoids irritating, and adding another ingredient can make redness, dryness and flaking worse.
“In the past, dermatologists liked to give patients a retinoid to use at night and an AHA to use in the morning. They were rarely compliant, ”notes Dr. Berson, because the combination irritated people. But she adds, “The original Retin-A,” a prescription retinoid that can only be obtained from a dermatologist, “was very irritating.” Dr. Berson lists a few innovations that have contributed to improving the stimulus situation: First, synthetic retin-A with slow release came on the market. “Instead of hitting your face all at once, the retinoid is absorbed gradually and with less irritation.” And second, synthetic retinoids like Differin and Tazorac with anti-inflammatory properties were developed. In addition to making retinoids more tolerable, minimizing inflammation also helps keep oxidative stress from acne and fine chiseling at bay.
Dr. Berson believes that Alpharet is the next evolution in retinoids thanks to its extremely unique delivery system. The two star ingredients are a retinoid and the gentle AHA lactic acid, a combination that is also featured in Shani Dardens Top 25 Award Winning Retinol Reform. The difference is that the Skinbetter scientists did not modify the lactic acid and retinoid, but instead mixed them in a bottle to create a super molecule: ethyl lactyl retinoate. “This molecule is very stable and also very well tolerated,” explains Dr. Berson. And it’s stronger than your average retinol too – the why is super scientific, but essentially the molecule uses a form of retinoid that is more closely related to the prescription material. Why doesn’t it cause too much irritation? Like the next generation retinoids mentioned above, ethyl lactyl retinoate works over time – lactic acid and retinoid are only released when the bonds between them are gradually broken, so they’re absorbed at a pace your skin can handle.
By the way, the rest of the formula isn’t chopped liver either. It is supported by anti-inflammatory bisabolol, allantoin, and niacinamide to help soothe the skin before irritation starts. The moisturizing squalene, ceramides, and cholesterol can’t hurt either. Plus, you have a wrinkle-filling peptide combination (the same two that are in the branded Matrixyl 3000 blend), a dash of moisture-binding humectants, and a handful of powerful antioxidants like coenzyme q10. “As we all know, antioxidants, along with sunscreens, are important in preventing oxidative damage and free radical production,” says Dr. Berson. In other words, a retinoid cream can be gentle without compromising its effectiveness with the right teammates on their side, and Skinbetter has the team piled up.
Dr. Berson recommends Alpharet (instead of a prescription for Retin-A) if a patient has sensitive, dry, or sensitive skin. I also think it’s especially good for those looking to streamline – I recommended it to a friend yesterday who wanted the benefits of retinoids and exfoliating acids but knew she wouldn’t stick to two extra steps in her routine. Maybe a new top shelf staple? Internet, get to work.
Photo via ITG