The last year has been a whirlwind for beloved dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. Her buzzy "skin cycling" technique went mega-viral—#skincycling has over 291 million views on TikTok— and she launched her skincare brand, Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty. Bowe's brand treats the skin from the outside and inside, offering ingestible and topical skincare products.
In terms of the latter, Bowe has launched two skin cycling essentials thus far, the Bowe Glow Microbiome Nourishing Cream and Exfoliation Night Resurfacing and Brightening Serum. Now, she’s launching the final product needed for your routine. Enter: Retinal Night Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment. Ahead, Dr. Bowe breaks down everything you should know about her new retinal.
Dr. Bowe says a "classic" skin cycling routine looks like this: exfoliation night, retinoid night, recovery night, recovery night, repeat. However, the retinoid night can be the trickiest to navigate, as some retinoid products can irritate the skin. "Retinoic acid, also known as tretinoin, is the prescription strength retinoid," she explains. "When you apply it to the skin, it binds to the receptors and works right away. Unfortunately, most people can't tolerate tretinoin, so they turn to over-the-counter retinols."
However, according to Dr. Bowe, there are a few issues with some of the retinol-based products on the market today. "Retinol has to be converted to retinal, also known as retinaldehyde, which then gets converted into retinoic acid. So your skin has to do more gymnastics to turn retinol into the active version, whereas retinal only requires one conversion. Furthermore, one of the best-kept beauty industry secrets is that most retinols are highly unstable. So by the time you apply it to your skin, only a fraction of whatever percent it claims to have is still active."
With Retinal Night Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment, Dr. Bowe sought to address the issues of irritation, stability, and potency once and for all.
The treatment has been in the works for two years. "It took me so long to launch this product because I was working very hard to stabilize the retinal," Dr. Bowe explains. "We actually utilize a technology that helps maintain its stability and potency. We have done independent testing showing that the retinal maintains its full potency for two years."
The benefits of 0.1% retinal are plentiful—it helps firm the skin, smooth texture, and reduces the look of wrinkles. "We are also using a proprietary dermal delivery technology that drives the retinal into the dermal layer, which is the deeper layer of the skin, so it's not sitting on the surface and creating irritation," Dr. Bowe adds. "Delivering that molecule into the dermal layer also helps lift and firm the skin."
To further reduce irritation, the Retinal Night Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment also includes a proprietary penta-lipid complex (3x ceramides, phytosphingosine, plant-based sterols) that works to hydrate, soothe skin, and restore the skin barrier. In addition, the formula is rounded out with two types of peptides (palmitoyl tripeptide-1 and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7) to enhance skin bounce and boost the firming effects of the retinal.
How to Use It
Dr. Bowe recommends applying a pearl-size amount of the Retinal Night Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment to clean dry skin after cleansing. Most people can adhere to the "classic" skin cycling routine and use the treatment on night two. But she says you can apply it more or less, depending on your skin's tolerance. "I have patients who have rosacea or sensitive skin, and they need to use a 'gentle' skin cycling program, which builds in an extra recovery night," Dr. Bowe notes. "Then, I have patients with more oily and acne-prone skin, and they're more accustomed to powerful actives. They can level up to an 'advanced' skin cycling program, which involves dropping recovery nights and adding more retinoid nights."
Rigorous clinical testing is a non-negotiable for Dr. Bowe. "We do subjective and objective testing," she says. "We always test our final formulation and don't rely on ingredient supplier data."
Beyond that, Dr. Bowe ensures that each product trial includes all skin tones and types. Having every skin type represented was especially important this time around to ensure the Retinal Night Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment was gentle enough for everyone. "50% of my clinical study subjects always have to have sensitive skin because I want to make sure that my patients prone to hyperpigmentation, rosacea, or eczema have no problem tolerating the product," she adds.
Dr. Bowe says the clinical trial results were incredibly promising. "We had over 30 subjects that were included, and we conducted the study for eight weeks," she shares. "They used the product three times a week. We saw improvements in certain parameters within two weeks. Then, at the eight-week mark, we began to see dramatic changes in terms of hyperpigmentation beginning to lift."
Retinal Night Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment is available today on Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty's website for $99 ($84 for a refill). For the first time, you can also purchase all of the brand's essentials via the Skin Cycling Program Kit ($199).