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As someone with not-so-great skin, I’m always on the look out for new new face care products. I was really happy when Skinstation got in touch and asked if I’d like to try out a product and review their site for them, so of course I said yes. I chose a retinol serum as this ingredient is becoming increasingly popular and may be of interest to others, as well as to myself. Let’s take a look at the Skinstation website, the array of brands they offer, and my thoughts on the MZ Skin Retinol Skin Booster serum.
What Is Skinstation?
Skinstation is a boutique virtual skincare store based in Guernsey, offering a wide but carefully chosen selection of products from some of the most highly regarded and effective brands. Both men’s and women’s skincare are stocked and can be delivered worldwide. Customer service specialists are on hand to offer guidance if you need it.
A multidisciplinary team of nurses and doctors form part of Skinstation’s intelligence base, and they’re available to offer advice and virtual consultations. The items Skinstation stocks have been chosen with care as a result of this collaborative effort, all based on scientific and cosmeceutical research and all of which have been dermatologically approved.
“We’re committed to science-backed products, healthier skin and wellness.”
Skinstation offer various modes of contacting them : There’s a telephone number to call, postal address to write to, an email address, online email form, and an online chat to speak to a customer service agent in real time. They’re also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The only thing I find a little odd is that their social sites aren’t regularly or recently updated at the time of writing.
Skinstation is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
The website provides full information on delivery and returns alongside an FAQ to answer general questions about the site and ordering.
Website, Ordering & Delivery
The website is user-friendly to browse and order from. It offers a few options to navigate their catalogue, for instance : Get product suggestions based on a particular skincare concern (like fine lines, rosacea, scarring or blemishes/acne), go directly to a known product using the search bar, or browse by product category type, skin type and brand. It makes it a more flexible and personalised browsing experience when you have this much choice.
Each product page has adequate information, along with a couple of photos to show you the item and what to expect. You get a product description, how to use, ingredients, key benefits and often a infographic-style display for the product to show all of this along with a mini FAQ.
Product reviews are quite important for me so I’m glad they feature on the site, although not every product has a star rating or written review. It doesn’t really matter so much these days because a quick Google search usually brings up reviews elsewhere, but they’re always nice to have as a basic guide on the site you’re buying from.
Prices are clearly displayed and information is well spaced out and easy to digest. If you scroll to the bottom of the site, you’ll also find a section where you can sign up for their newsletter and get yourself 5% off in the process. I like discounts. Discounts are good. That’s the one thing missing from this site really because I’ve seen no sale lines, at least not at the time of writing.
The website footer contains details on contacting the brand along with all the information you may need, such as about the company, the team, FAQs, loyalty club info and delivery details.
You can either create an account, or checkout without one as a guest. They also offer a loyalty scheme if you’re registered for an account. My preference would be to make an account so as to see current or past order history, earn reward points and opt in to receive notifications of special offers.
They accept various payment methods, including Visa, Paypal, American Express, Delta, Klarna and Mastercard.
Skinstation delivers worldwide!
They offer free delivery to the UK and channel islands. However, it should be noted that additional fees may apply; on their delivery & returns info page they note the potential “Brexit” changes and charges, which sadly hurt customers and businesses alike – “You [the customer] are therefore treated as the importer, which makes you liable to pay any local VAT and import taxes on orders.”
Skinstation also delivers to Europe and the rest of the world via International Signed For delivery for a fee.
My item was dispatched and delivered surprisingly quickly. It came well packed in a little brown box, and the item was folded inside their branded paper. It arrived without any damage to the glass bottle item or its packaging.
Finding Your Next Product or New Skincare Routine
There’s a skin quiz available on the skincare site that might give you a rough idea of what you may want to consider. You can also book a virtual consult with one of their “highly trained skin therapists and nurses”, who will be able to undertake a personalised evaluation. They can help to identify any concerns, make suggestions as to what products you may find useful, or what skincare routine may best support your skin to stay healthy.
They also have a blog filled with articles on skincare tips, new developments and general information.
Skinstation sells skincare goodies, but the range is expansive in as much as there are some extras I hadn’t anticipated. The range include the likes of:
- Eye care
- Facial oils
- Exfoliators & Peels
- Lip care
- Eyelashes & Brows
- Neck & Décolletage
- Night creams
- Anti-ageing skincare
- Body care
- Skincare sets
- Travel sets
- Men’s skincare
- Gift cards, so you can “give the gift of beautiful skin”
They stock a lot of fundamental ingredients as well as some of the currently trending buzzword ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacin amide, retinol, collagen, vitamin c, salicylic and glycolic acid, etc.
The prices shown include UK sales tax. This tax will be deducted if you’re outside of the UK and you’re not liable for this additional tax.
These are reputable brands and some are what I like to call “fancy-ass” products. They’re not cheap, but there’s some variability in terms of price points from mid to higher budget. That said, I’ve seen higher priced products elsewhere so Skinstation isn’t reserved for only the richest of the rich. You won’t get budget bargains here, but you will get quality products seen as investments for your skin’s appearance and health.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My Product : MZ Skin Retinol Skin Booster Review
The MZ Skin brand is developed by Dr. Maryam Zamani. The product I chose to test and review is their MZ Skin Retinol Skin Booster, a 2.0% retinol serum priced at £109 for 20ml.
Their Retinol Skin Booster contains 2% micro encapsulated retinol, making this a vitamin A resurfacing treatment. This is a serum-style product that comes in a 20ml glass bottle with pipette dropper. The key actives here are retinol (in the form of Vitamin A), Malic acid and Vitamin E.
The ingredients are as follows: Ethyl Macadamiate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Phospholipids, Retinol, Tocopherol, Parfum (Fragrance), Malic Acid, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool.
What Is Retinol & What Are The Benefits Of Retinol?
Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A that get converted into the active form, retinoid acid. Retinol is the most common form. Tiny molecules make up retinol and these penetrate down through the epidermis to the dermis below, the middle layer of your skin. It helps to perk up collagen and elastin production by neutralising free radicals. Collagen and elastin help to plump the skin and give it elasticity, in turn helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and enlarged pores. Retinol also has exfoliation properties on the surface of the skin, which is why it’s an ingredient often recommended for those with redness, uneven skin tone, dark spots and acne.
There’s an ever-increasing range of retinol products now available OTC but they vary massively in the strength and quality. The weaker the concentration, the more palatable it may be for skin to tolerate quickly but you may find better or quicker benefits with a mid-strength retinol.
The MZ Skin Retinol Skin Booster is a 2% retinol serum, which makes it far more potent than many OTC products that average 0.2-0.3%.
The potential benefits are of this particular retinol booster are listed as the following :
- Increased cell renewal
- Exfoliates dead skin cells
- Reduces visible signs of ageing
- Helps to even the texture and tone of skin
- Brightens the skin’s complexion
MZ Skin on their own website also make the following claims : “Clinically proven to reduce fine lines by 43%, after 8 weeks” / “Amplifies collagen production to improve skin’s strength, elasticity and firmness by 17%, after 8 weeks” / “Increase hydration by 18%, after 8 weeks”.
Retinol is general is well known for its anti-ageing compounds. The focus may be on getting “younger looking skin”, but that’s not really the crux of what this ingredient does.
Retinol helps to encourage the renewal of cells, to refresh and repair the skin and balance things out. It’s therefore not just for those in their 40s and beyond looking to target fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also for those with uneven skin tone, dark spots and sun spots, hyperpigmentation, acne and blackheads, tired and dull skin. It’s for anyone wanting a brighter, healthier complexion.
Retinol, like most ingredients that suggest real benefits to the skin, can take time to work its magic. It’s typically advised you persevere for at least three months to see the bigger benefits to wrinkles, fine lines, acne and dark spots. General brightening and boosting of your complexion may happen before then. In fact, some people notice a difference after the first week or so. For others, the side-effects can last a couple of weeks and shortly after they notice a gradual improvement in the tone and health of their skin.
What Is The “Retinol Purge”?
Retinol can take time to get used to. There’s a side-effect so well-known and common among first time users that it has it’s own nickname, dubbed the “retinol purge”.
If you’ve not used retinol before or you’ve only used a very weak concentration, your skin needs to acclimate to it. When starting retinol treatment, you might notice things getting worse for a short time before they get better. Everyone is different, so not each user will experience this effect, though it is common.
For those that do experience the retinol purge, they might find things like redness, irritation, increased acne or peeling skin in the first days or weeks of use. This is why it’s recommended you start with using Retinol just twice a week, with a small amount each time, then gradually build up the frequency as your skin tolerates it better.
This ‘retinol purge’ is a normal part of the process, albeit a not-so-pretty part. However, if you have an extreme reaction or any concerns, you should of course discontinue use and speak to your GP or dermatologist. If you’re unsure or have queries, you might want to get in touch with Skinstation and ask for their thoughts. It’s not for use during pregnancy and should be used with caution if you have rosacea or eczema as there’s a chance it could aggravate them.
You can learn more about retinol here.
How To Use
The brand suggests using this twice a week if you’re new to using retinol. You can then gradually increase usage to every day when your skin becomes accustomed to it. As noted about, many but not all people will go through a retinol purge to some degree, hence the advice to start low and slow to allow your skin to build tolerance.
To use, the packaging directions state to apply 1 pipette to the face. It’s commonly advised that retinol treatments should be used in the evenings, though the product information here notes it can be used on the morning or evening, just the once a day. It’s also important to use SPF 30+ to protect your skin during the day as retinol can leave skin more vulnerable. This is why nighttime application is often recommended. It’s best to not layer up the retinol products you use, especially if you’re a new user. If you use this serum, ensure the moisturisers and other products you use don’t contain retinol. MZ Skin note to use two pipettes of the serum if you’re treating other areas in addition like the décolletage, hands or arms. It’s not suitable during pregnancy and shouldn’t come into contact with eyes.
I find the instructions a little underwhelming. They don’t tell you about washing your face first or cautions with other products alongside this one. It would be good for the brand to clarify the amount to use each time because I’d imagine they mean one drop rather than a whole pipette full of the serum. I would be inclined to use one or two drops myself as it seems safer and more reasonable, so that’s what I’ve been using. MZ Skin also don’t specify how to apply it. Usually, serums can be dropped directly on the skin or dropped on your fingers to apply it that way. They don’t go into detail about whether to massage in or gently smooth over the skin, which would be good to know.
My Thoughts On The MZ Skin Retinol Booster
Use & Application
True to its word, the Retinol Skin Booster is surprisingly lightweight. It’s quite thin and oily, so a little goes a long way but it can be a little messy until you get into the swing of using it. It smooths onto skin silkily and absorbs fairly well, with no sticky residue afterwards.
I ensure to cleanse my face first, wash with water, and ensure it’s dry before using retinol. The first time I used this, I put a drop from the pipette onto my fingertips, thinking I’d then smooth that onto my face. I hadn’t realised it had quite a thin, oily consistency, so it ran quickly and I seemed to have more over my hand and between my fingers than anywhere else. It did, however, demonstrate that a little goes a long way and one drop was enough to get me started with a thin layer for my face. The next time, I tilted my head back very slightly and dropped it straight onto my cheek, then smoothed in from there and repeated this on any other part of the face where more was needed. This worked a little better in my opinion, though I’ve also found if you apply to finger tips first it’s best to do it on the upper pad of your finger and then apply quickly to save it getting messy.
Despite what I thought was an oily and runny feel to this at first blush, it’s quite pleasant. There’s no overpowering nasty smell and I’m not left with a super shiny face as though I stuck my head in a vat of baby oil. It doesn’t dry my skin too much after the retinol purge (please see below) but I do make sure now to leave this to get to work for maybe 15-30 minutes and then put on moisturiser.
I did experience the retinol purge with some soreness and peeling, and that lasted around 2.5 weeks. I didn’t help myself here because after the first time use, I then applied it again the next night, rather than leave a few days in between. This wasn’t because I like living on the edge. It was because I forgot what day it was and when I first used it. The perils of brain fog and chronic illness! For those first 2-3 weeks, I applied it only once a week and made sure to focus on moisturising each day to help nourish my skin. I went for a thicker, heavier cream (Astral is a good one here). After that, my skin levelled out and I went into using the retinol on a regular basis.
I’m now aiming for two to three nights a week, and I’m pretty happy with that. I may up it to every other night or even every night in future, but this slightly less frequent use may be best for me. The guidelines for application are only guidelines after all; we all have different skin and what works for one person may not for another. I only use a very small amount on my face and so I think the bottle will last a reasonable amount of time as a result.
Results : Does MZ Skin Retinol Booster Really Work?
With my health and autoimmune problems, I’ve found myself getting a lot of redness in patches, blocked pores, broken capillaries, and so on. I was curious about retinol because of the hype and I wanted to check it out for myself, but in all honestly, I wasn’t really expecting any real change. I’m surprised to say that I think it is already perking up my skin! As such, I’ve got good feelings for longer-term use, even though I’ll be maintaining a slow and steady approach with it.
It’s still pretty early to confidently comment on any benefits yet, especially with the retinol purge process eating up a lot of the time between receiving the product and writing this review, but I’m pretty sure that my skin looks healthier. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is but it’s looking more balanced in terms of texture and appearance, a little smoother, less patchy. It seems that some pores are looking a little smaller too, so I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s still too soon to comment on bigger changes but I’ll be persevering with this one and hopefully using it for the foreseeable future providing my skin is happy. Patience is a virtue with an ingredient like retinol.
A Worthwhile Purchase
I can understand the cost of this being what it is because it’s 2.0% retinol, without even taking into consideration the quality or brand name. Many brands that do retinol in their products, or even the dedicated retinol serums on the high street, will typically have significantly weaker amounts. Or they don’t have encapsulated retinol but something else (like granactive retinoid), so you’re not always getting quite what you think you are. You could easily pay £30 for a small 0.2-0.3% retinol serum, which is a massive difference. Upping that to 2% and potentially 10x the strength costs £109 with the MZ Skin serum. That’s probably a fair price, especially when remembering that it’s a fancy-ass brand (ie. Quality product, top tier ingredients, tested, ensured safe, and all that good stuff). You’re investing in your skincare, if you can afford to do so.
Given the cost of living crisis, it’s unlikely many of us would consider something at this price range. My eyes would water at the mere thought of spending so much on myself. That said, I’d much rather invest in this in the first instance than likely spend even more trying numerous other products that aren’t strong enough, aren’t good quality and don’t actually do anything. And, like I said earlier, I’d anticipate it lasting a good while because a little goes a long way thanks to the consistency.
Overall, the product looks great, works well and has a great retinol concentration, I just wish the brand put more guidance on the packaging for their users.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Skinstation Review + MZ Skin Retinol : In A Nutshell
Skinstation has been a pleasure to browse, use and deal with, and I can see why it’s such a popular online boutique for skincare. The range is diverse and carefully curated to present buyers with the best brands and most effective products. I think Skinstation would appeal not just to those looking for quality products for themselves as investments for their skin, but also those looking for presentable yet useful gifts.
As for the product I tested from the store, the MZ Skin Retinol Booster is a stronger 2.0% retinol in a classic glass bottle with pipette dropper. A little goes a long way and the ingredients make this an excellent choice for those wanting to renew and boost their skin’s health and appearance.
Have you ever tried retinol, or is it something you’re curious about?
[ The retinol product here has been gifted for the purpose of an honest review, which I have provided here ]