What Happens When You Start Using Collagen and Retinol?
For the past ten years, collagen and retinol have been the go-to skincare choice for celebs and beauty industry insiders. Now that they’ve entered the mainstream, I thought it was time I tried them out.
Let me fess up right here, right now; I am no skincare professional. I’m not even a keen amateur. In fact on a recent trip to the Lake District, I horrified my friend by removing my make-up with wet wipes. Apparently that is a huge no-no when it comes to a grown up skincare routine.
I watched in amazement as my friend unpacked her arsenal of products. A foaming Hyaluronic Acid facewash, a Vitamin C serum (essential for brightness apparently), collagen moisturiser for the daytime, additional SPF, retinol cream for bedtime. Oh and eye cream. Never forget the eye cream. But really, what happens when you start using collagen and retinol (and all the other millions of things my mate had in her wash bag)? Are we being sold a big con here?
Now, I am hoping that I’m going to have the genes of my ever youthful Mother who turns 60 next week but doesn’t even look 50 yet. But I don’t want to rely solely on nature, if a bit of strategic cosmetic science intervention can help me out too. So after that trip to the Lakes, I decided I’d dip my toe into the skincare pool and try out collagen and retinol at the very least.
I was lucky enough to be working with a lovely agency who gifted me some Revive Liquid Collagen and the Dr Dennis Gross Retinol and Ferulic Acid Moisturiser (who knew there were so many acids? And that you were supposed to put them on your face!). Now both of these products are fairly pricey in my opinion… and while I’ll spend a fortune on a dress I’m not as keen to spend it on my face. Which is ridiculous come to think of it because, you know, you wear your face every day don’t you? Nonetheless at around £58 for a months supply I’m not sure I would’ve ever bought them off my own back. The Dr Gross cream, which is available on lots of UK beauty sites, comes in at around £72… again, not a price I’m familiar with paying for skincare. Especially since I actually had never really used anything but wet wipes and whatever moisturiser was on supermarket special.
I decided I’d do two weeks on the Revive Collagen first, then introduce the retinol cream. After all, if I was suddenly going to look 25, I wanted to know which product was working the wonders for me. My bank balance prayed that I wouldn’t need both.
So what’s the deal with liquid collagen?
Collagen production starts to decrease as we age, meaning that by the time we’re in our 40’s, the skin cells weaken and we lose plumpness and elasticity… which in real terms means it will take you far, far longer to get rid of the pillow creases from your face in the mornings (if you know, you know).
The idea with ingesting liquid collagen rather than just slathering it on your face is that the molecules are ‘pre digested’, meaning that they’re readily available for your body to use in cell structures. While the research into liquid vs creams is still ongoing, most scientists agree that collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed by the skin… which means that although they may work great as a moisturiser, the collagen won’t be making it’s way into your cell structure to do it’s magic thing.
I’ve got to admit that when you start using liquid collagen the first few sachets might be tricky to get down due to their unique taste. But after the first week I was used to it and by the end of the month I actually enjoyed the taste. Don’t ask me to describe it it’s impossible.
Ok I’ll try.
It’s like citrussy.
But also fishy.
Like citrussy fish.
In liquid form.
Honestly quite pleasant once you acclimatise though.
But does it actually work?
It really pains me to admit this, both in terms of my pride and for my poor bank balance… but I really think it does work you know.
The first thing I noticed had absolutely nothing to do with my skin. I teach 14 fitness classes per week and have gotten used to always being sore. By Wednesday evening I’m usually hobbling about wondering how I’ll possibly make it through to the weekend. A week or so into downing the sachets, I noticed that my muscles felt way less achy and tense. A quick google search led me down a rabbit hole of fascinating studies on how collagen supplements aid muscular repair and reduces joint soreness. Who knew?
Then, a week or so later that lovely thing started happening where people say, “You look so fresh!” or “Your skin looks great!”. I even had one person ask me if I’d come off the wine… I absolutely had not. And don’t intend to thank you very much. But I could see a difference in the quality of my skin tone. It looked clearer and smoother. I hate this next adjective I’m going to use because it makes me think of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda; but yes, my skin looked plump. In a good way.
By the end of the month I was a fan. Fully converted. I’ve ordered my next box and I’m telling myself that it’s basically only what most people pay on a gym membership, which I don’t have. In the future I might look into some powder collagen which seems to be slightly more cost effective and does the same job. The great thing about these Revive sachets though is their ease; I just sat them next to the kettle and had mine before my morning cuppa every day. I’m not sure if I had to dissolve the powder in a drink or a yoghurt for example, whether I’d have kept up with it as regularly.
Ok, now for the retinol…
Just the word ‘retinol’ scared me. Honestly it did.
I remember back in the early noughties having a couple of friends who had severe acne and were prescribed Roaccutane, which is a type of retinoid. Although the roaccutane worked wonders on the acne, it left their skin red, dry and peeling.
Luckily retinoids are much more a mainstream part of skincare now and are famed for reducing fine lines and improving the appearance of pores. Plus, retinol comes in different strengths, so it turns out the ones used to treat the signs of ageing rather than acne, are lower strength. The Dr Gross cream also contains antioxidants like arnica to smooth and replenish the skin.
And the verdict is…
Oh man. My poor bank balance. I have to say I love this too!
I’ve been using it every day and night and my skin feels super soft, almost like I’ve had a facial each morning. My makeup seems to sit nicer on my face and there is definitely more glow and less oil-slick going on in the forehead region too.
But the biggest win for me is that touch wood, it seems to be heavy enough for the finer skin around my eyes and nose, yet also light enough that it doesn’t clog up my chin and cause spotty outbreaks. In the past whenever I’ve used moisturisers I’ve felt dry around the midsection of my face and oily on the chin. So far, Dr Gross seems to be evening out the skin all over my face and neck.
It feels rich and creamy and smells so dreamy.
I didn’t mean to make that rhyme.
It’s the collagen and the retinol I think. They’re bringing out my inner poet. If they could just bring out my outer supermodel now that would be great.
***Liked this post? You might enjoy this one, on the 5 beauty essentials you never knew you needed.