Anyone who’s used a retinoid cream probably knows their undeniable benefits are often counter-balanced by some weighty downsides. True, dermatologists often prescribe topical retinoid ointments to combat everything from acne to wrinkles to psoriasis, even. And yes, this is because they work, but they can also come with some pretty nasty side-effects like dryness, peeling, irritation, redness and the like.
So what gives? Do us hippies really need to compromise our standards for efficacy?
Ever heard the phrase “the sting means it’s working”? It’s a tough-love self-care mantra a matriarchal mentor may have passed down to you at some point, and it’s bit antiquated — if not just plain wrong. To be honest, It probably only still applies to cuts and peroxide (ouch). Potential pitfalls and harsh chemicals aside however, even my most natural, non-GMO, 100% organic, grass-fed friends still secretly stick with retinoids because they get sh*t done. Pile on the pre-nuptial pressure of a time crunch, and it’s no surprise derm-prescribed remedies start to look appealing to even the most label-conscious of brides-to-be. So what gives? Do us hippies really need compromise our standards for efficacy?
For my installment of the Six-Week Skin series, I had one major skin concern, hyper-pigmentation. I’m of mixed racial background so my medium skintone often over-loads blemish scars with melanin, leaving me with dark spots that often trump the zits they once were. No bueno. Needless to say, I faced the classic no-pain-no-gain dilemma when researching “the best” face serums for combatting uneven skintone, so I turned to online beauty treasure trove Seed to Serum. Among their arsenal of highly edited beauty remedies I immediately recognized a much buzzed-about name: Kypris Moonlight Catalyst. One of the product description’s first claims? “Delivers all the cosmetic benefits of retinoid preparations without any harsh chemicals, redness, peeling, or thinning of skin.” Sold.
Who really cares about “glowing” when you’ve got dark spots all over your mug?
I’m not going to tease the outcome any longer. The stuff touts a fitting name, one part magic, one part pumpkin enzyme chemistry. No, I didn’t experience overnight results as other reviewers have expressed, perhaps because I’ve always used a nightly exfoliant so that morning “glow” wasn’t anything new, and besides who really cares about “glowing” when you’ve got dark spots all over your mug (take care of my problem areas, then we’ll talk about my lackluster “radiance,” okay)? However, I did hit a two-week sweet spot where I definitely noticed my dark spots diminishing, and two weeks ain’t too bad. Six weeks later, I can now say that yes, it’s given me that infamous “glow” that’s often only accompanied with really good lighting.
Although pumpkin enzyme (a bit a dark horse here) appears to take the lead in Moonlight Catalyst’s formulation, the bottle boasts some more buzzy players as well. Ingredient superstars, Hylaronic acid (in the form of it’s precursor Xylitylglucoside) and rosehip seed extract seem to be to thank as well. Shocker.
Just remember, it’s no high-maintenance retinoid, but there are a couple of important things to keep in mind if you plan to use Moonlight Catalyst. First, you’ll want to wash this product off completely every morning because, like most exfoliants, it doesn’t like sunlight. Second, do not apply this serum with any other products and avoid using other exfoliating preparations altogether. Fermented pumpkin enzyme doesn’t play, so doubling down equals overkill.
Though the serum’s consistency is wet rather than oily, I wouldn’t worry about skipping your nightly moisturizer, hydrating botanical extracts and hyaluronic-acid-inducing Xylitylglucoside have that covered. I will admit, however, that I did sometimes apply 100% pure organic argon oil after letting my Moonlight Catalyst soak in, just for the placebo effect. No adverse side effects ensued, but I don’t recommend mixing things up overall. Why fix something that’s not broken?
Intrigued? Order your own Moonlight Catalyst here (Seed to Serum even offers a $16 trial size). The best part? A little goes a long way. I’ve barely put a dent in my own bottle, so trust that you will get bang for your buck. Want to explore other amazing serums? Seed to Serum conveniently categorizes their stock by skincare concern (i.e. Blemishes, Fine Lines, Oily Skin, Redness / Sensitivity etc.), so just read up and find your fit!
— Gaby Wilson, R&G Associate Editor