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 Sephora.com, 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.)