The Revelation of Retinol: Putting Your Best Face Forward

What the what? Is this the same Betsy Aaron who has been devoted to covering only natural organic skincare for lo these many years? Well yes, I have had a revelation and it’s that our body has a natural biochemistry and we can use products that work to support it. I wanted to delve deeper than topical treatments. I woke up one winter day and decided to spend the remaining long nights experimenting with products to see if, when used properly (i.e. sparingly,) and as part of a supportive regimen that deeply nourishes and hydrates– retinol is indeed a girl’s friend.

I spoke with Dr. Ben, the namesake pharmacist of Benjamin Fuchs The Truth, who advised me to massage a tiny (“head of a pin,”) amount of his Retinol Gel into damp skin. The gel, which is thick, emollient and satiny, contains a 5% concentration of retinol, a Vitamin A derivative. Since I am a delicate flower, he told me to use it only once a week. I love the idea of having a product do the heavy lifting while all I do is dream. I noticed a difference the first morning: I awoke to a softer, smoother face. My sleep pod is overheated and under-hydrated, and by late winter my face should have more in common with dried fruit than fresh flowers. In the morning, I massaged two-ish drops of Truth Serum with vitamin C into my damp and dewy dermis; in the evening I massaged in a pea-sized drop of Truth Balm, which deeply drenches the skin in hydration and stimulates collagen production. The products contain Vitamin C and phytonutrients like bisobolol, a chamomile derivative. I never experienced dryness, redness, flakiness, inflammation or irritation. As Dr. Ben says, it’s all about the formulation– and his work. Thanks to Dr. Ben I have significantly fewer qualms about attending an upcoming college reunion.


To prep my moneymaker for Lancer Younger Pure Youth Serum, I began using The Lancer Method, a trio of products that work together to exfoliate, sweep clean and deliver a heaping helping of potent age-reversers so that the skin is primed to retain moisture and jumpstart cell renewal. The first morning my skin had visibly more clarity and the glow of good health. The Polish isn’t rough or grainy and doesn’t leave you feeling sandpapered; the Cleanse is refreshing and doesn’t leave your face feeling dry and taut. My favorite was Nourish: it works as both face and eye cream and I always applaud a product that does more than one job. It isn’t greasy, feels calming and cooling and leaves you feeling both nourished and protected. After a few days of priming my personal canvas, I tried a small amount of the serum and woke to the glow of smooth, radiant looking skin. The serum contains a complex of retinol-like compounds and works by signaling retinoid receptors to jumpstart the production of new skin cells, collagen and elastin fibers. All of which makes facing the future seem bright.

Available: Nordstrom

Better living through chemistry? Now I’m a believer.