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Product Review: Philosophy The Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinol Pads and Solution

Posted Jan 17 2010 3:59pm

By futurederm Sunday January 17, 2010

Every once in a while, a revolutionary beauty product comes on the market, one so exciting that I exclaim, “I can’t wait to tell my readers about this!”  That is the case with the new Philosophy The Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinol Pads and Solution ($85, – when I found it in my local Sephora, I practically had an MI right on the sales floor.  (”Pull it together, Nicki,” I reminded myself, as I oh-so-casually pulled my Moleskine out of my purse to take notes.)  The product contains a revolutionary form of vitamin A, with the two-part acronym HPR (in marketing speak for “High Performance Retinoid” and in the scientific community as Hydroxypinnacolone retinoate).  Unlike other ester forms of vitamin A on the market, Hydroxypinacolone retinoate does not require metabolic conversion to be in the preferred active form to obtain benefits of vitamin A.  (For the record, these benefits include increased rates of cellular turnover, preventing and treating the collagen loss caused by photodamage, and inhibiting the induction of matrix metalloproteinase genes, which are in part responsible for collagen degradation). In other words, this makes Hydroxypinnacolone retinoate one of the most exciting new ingredients on the market for 2010 – for the beauty business as well as for dermatology.

Unfortunately, there is a slight problem with Philosophy The Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinol Pads and Solution, and that is the product’s inclusion of vitamin C in the product.  As I have discussed in a previous post, I don’t typically choose products with vitamins A and C together, as it has been reported in the Journal of Dermatological Surgery that vitamin C and its derivatives should be formulated at a pH under 3.5 in order to allow the vitamin C to enter the skin, but the pH optimal for retinol esterification is between 5.5-6.0, as reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.  With that said, the forms of vitamin A and C used in this product are derivatives – HPR and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, respectively – and so the pH should not affect ingredient performance as drastically as if the forms were the more basic/acidic-optimized retinol and L-ascorbic acid.  Still, as soon as Philosophy formulates a product with HPR without vitamin C, I’m switching (unless research invalidates this concern altogether beforehand).

My second concern about Philosophy The Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinol Pads and Solution is determining the strength of the treatment.  For instance, while the effects of 0.6% and 0.9% retinol (as in Green Cream Level 6 and 9, respectively) are well-documented, it is unknown what concentration of HPR provides the same effect as a given concentration of retinol.  In this product, there is actually a higher concentration of vitamin C derivative than vitamin A derivative, leading me to believe that either: A.) this is a weaker vitamin A treatment, and hence better for patients with sensitive skin who cannot tolerate traditional retinol treatments, or B.) HPR is very strong, and a large concentration of it is not necessary for results.  However, given the customer reviews of the product on, I would venture to guess that option A is correct and this is not a very potent retinol treatment.

Overall, then, I’m thrilled with the introduction of a new form of retinol (HPR) in Philosophy The Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinol Pads and Solution, but would love the treatment even more if it didn’t include vitamin C and were perhaps a bit more potent (i.e., replete with a higher concentration of HPR).  Still, if your dermatologist approves, it seems like more tolerable than usual as a form of retinol for those with sensitive skin.  I give this one a solid 8/10 (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 2.5/3.  Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3.  Value for the money: 2.5/3.  Sunscreen: 0/1.)

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