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Retinol Complex 1, 0.5 or 0.25 by SkinMedica®

(2 customer reviews)

$66.00$99.00 CAD


  • Evening, before moisturizer.
  • Build up usage with low doses, beginning twice a week until you build tolerance.
  • Face, neck and chest.
  • Store at room temperature between 15° – 30°C (59° – 86°F).

Best for:

  • Wrinkles, lines and texture.
  • Skin tone and dark spots.
  • Acne and acne scarring.

A skin tone and wrinkle-fighting product with an intense form of Vitamin A, to be used gradually to avoid redness and peeling (retinoids are that strong). Great for acne sufferers, too. We can let you know which one we think you need (contact us before ordering).

In a 2015 clinical study (referenced below), this retinol product was shown to have similar efficacy and tolerability to prescription tretinoin (a.k.a. retinoic acid), at equal strengths. In a randomized, double-blind, split-face trial, both products showed statistically significant improvement in the appearance of overall photodamage, plus fine lines, wrinkles, and more.

The study mentioned above was considered a breakthrough, since most retinol on the market is believed to be far weaker than prescription tretinoin, which has over 30 years of research behind it!

Moreover, Retinol Complex by SkinMedica® offers irritation deterrents, due to the way it is formulated (such as by encapsulation and including skin soothers). Retinol is notorious for creating irritation for first-time users. But this product eases that transition. In our opinion, that makes it the best retinol you can buy over the counter!

The tolerability of this type of retinol (which is still strong – don’t get us wrong) – also helps prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Learn more about retinol on our blog:

A few helpful things to know when using this product:

IMPORTANT: APPLY HIGH SPF SUNSCREEN EVERY 2 HOURS WITH THIS PRODUCT. Avoid the sun if possible. Continue using sunscreen for at least 1 week after you stop using this product (though you should always be using sunscreen anyway).

This product can make your skin extra sensitive to the sun. Sun exposure while using this product can lead to hyperpigmentation or visible signs of aging.

Follow doctor instructions when using retinoids. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Remember to build up your usage of this product. Start with a low dosage, once or twice a week.

All skin types can experience initial dryness and irritation with this product. This is due to the exfoliating function of retinol. The more your skin exfoliates, the more it can produce new collagen. So this can be a good thing.

Begin by using this product once a week. When your skin has adjusted and no longer feels dry and irritated from it, move up to twice a week, leaving a few days between applications. Then, gradually increase your application until you can tolerate using it daily.

You may have to re-do the adjustment process when you ‘graduate’ to a higher concentration of retinol (such as from .25% retinol, to 5% retinol, or from 5% retinol to 1% retinol).

Always use a non-comedogenic moisturizer with this product, to help your skin rebuild its barrier in response to the exfoliation.

You can use other products with retinol, but it’s best to speak with a doctor or aesthetician for advice about your skin care needs.

Try to avoid using other exfoliating products while your skin is getting used to retinol.

Notable skin care ingredients in this top-quality retinol:

Apart from encapsulated retinol, which is of course included, the impressive list of ingredients in this product include:

Cetyl ethylhexanoate an emollient and occlusive used to trap water in the skin, which can thus improve hydration and softness.

Soybean oil – a rich oil that helps to preserve the skin’s moisture barrier, while also acting as an anti-inflammatory (especially from the sun) and an antioxidant. It is rich in vitamin E. It also contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to help build collagen and elastin.

Niacinamide – vitamin B3, acting as an antioxidant, sebum (oil) regulator, skin brightener and cell rebuilding agent, all in one.

Squalane – a hydrogenated oil used for its antioxidant, skin soothing properties. It’s not to be confused with squalene (notice the ‘e’?), which is also in this product. The latter is made naturally in our skin, but is less stable than the former.

Tocopheryl acetate – vitamin E in its stable form, used as an antioxidant.

Rice Bran Wax – a skin softener that helps to reduce water loss in the skin, keeping it moisturized.

Glycerin – a humectant used prolifically in skin care products for its ability to preserve moisture in the skin.

Before & afters gallery showing results of studies using Retinol Complex

SkinMedica Before and After photo of Retinol Complex .25 - high end skincare results from clinical study SkinMedica Before and After photo of Retinol Complex .5 - high end skincare results from clinical study SkinMedica Before and After photo of Retinol Complex 1.0 - high end skincare results from clinical study SkinMedica Before and After photo of Retinol Complex .5 - high end skincare results from clinical study

Clinical studies:

  • Ho ET, Trookman NS, Sperber BR, et al. A randomized, double-blind, controlled comparative trial of the anti-aging properties of non-prescription tri-retinol 1.1% vs. prescription tretinoin 0.025%. J Drugs Dermatol 2012; 11(1):64-69. Click here to view (opens a new tab).
  • Babcock M, Mehta RC, Makino ET. A Randomized, Double-blind, Split-face Study Comparing the Efficacy and Tolerability of Three Retinol-based Products vs. Three Tretinoin-based Products in Subjects With Moderate to Severe Facial Photodamage. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jan; 14(1):24-30. Click here to view (opens a new tab).
Weight / Size

29.6 mL


Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Niacinamide, Polyacrylate-13, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Retinol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-8, Dunaliella Salina Extract, Magnolia Grandiflora Bark Extract, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Ceramide 3, Bisabolol, Phytosterols, Squalene, Tocopheryl Acetate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax (Oryza Sativa Cera), Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Palmitate, Laureth-23, Trideceth-6 Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide, Dicaprylyl Ether, Lauryl Alcohol, Polyisobutene, Dextran, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

Shipping & pickup options

  • Free store pickup: ready within 24 hours when we're open. 13805 104th Avenue, Suite #101 Surrey, BC. View our location on Google Maps. We will e-mail or call when ready.
  • Free shipping: eligible on orders over $75 across Canada.
  • Flat rate shipping: $6 across Canada.
  • All prices in CAD.
  • Shipping times estimated to arrive within 5 - 9 days. May be delayed due to Covid-19.
  • We do not ship outside Canada.

2 reviews for Retinol Complex 1, 0.5 or 0.25 by SkinMedica®

  1. DJ (verified owner)

    I had frequent acne until age 40. I went to Dr. Shah and he recommended this product to me on the first visit. It has worked fantastic for me (almost no acne since).

  2. Eva + Irina (verified owner)

    Great product for mature skin, maintains skin firmness and even tone, reduces appearance of wrinkles. Definitely recommended.

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