Before I even begin, this InstaNatural Retinol Serum review is the first negative review that I’ve had to write so I wanted to point a few things out before I get started. Firstly I’m not necessarily saying that this is a bad product (it’s highly rated reviews across the net would certainly contradict that) it’s just that it’s not a product that worked well for me personally.
We all have different skin types and what works great on one person’s skin may wreak havoc on someone else’s so I just wanted to add my own not so great experience to the mix. There were also a few other things that I didn’t like about it which I’ll go into shortly but for now, let’s start with one of the reasons why I bought it in the first place and that is the ingredients it contains.
What This Serum Contains
From an ingredients point of view, the InstaNatural Retinol Serum contains all the things you’d like to see in an anti-aging serum. It contains a whopping 2.5% retinol (which is pretty high for a non-prescription retinol) as well as 20% vitamin C. It also contains the skin hydrating hyaluronic acid, the skin restoring niacinamide and the antioxidant CoQ10.
Also present in the formula is argan oil, green tea, and aloe vera just to name a few so it certainly isn’t shy with its skin benefiting ingredients. InstaNatural also tries to keep their ingredients as natural as possible and the serum is seriously affordable so with all these things going for it, it’s become quite the popular Amazon cheapie as I like to call them.
My First Impression
So the first issue I had with this serum was its appearance and smell. Funny thing about that though is that this is something most people love about this serum particularly its smell. I personally like my serums to be as clear as possible and with little to no smell. Most serums are clear in colour, sometimes they may be a little cloudy or with some natural products they may come with a golden hue to them but for the most part, they’re not brightly coloured.
The main reason for this is that vitamin C is pretty unstable and starts to oxidize once it’s exposed to air, heat, and light and this renders it pretty much useless or sometimes even irritating to the skin once that happens. One of the first telltale signs that your serum has bitten the dust is that the serum changes in colour to a yellowy brown colour (and it starts to smell – my second issue).
Did I Get A Bad One?
I had two thoughts when I saw the way this serum looked. My first thought was, did I get a bad one so I went off to do some investigating and after seeing numerous pictures of other peoples serums, I realised that this was just the norm for this particular serum. So then my next thought became, how I am going to know if this stuff starts to oxidize before I’ve used it all, that is if it’s not oxidized already?
This stuff is already bright orange to begin with and not just a pale shade of orange but a luminous tangerine shade of orange with what looks like citrusy pieces floating around in it. I’ll put it to you this way, if I poured this serum into a glass and left it on the table, my kids would probably drink it because it looks and smells just like a fizzy orange drink.
The Smell Of A Fresh Orange
The smell is something that many people actually rave about and to be fair, they’re not wrong. If you’re looking for something that smells like a citrus bath bomb then this is it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell but this is a facial serum and not a fruity desert so this instantly makes me a little nervous even if it does smell like citrus heaven.
Fragrances including natural ones are often common culprits for skin irritation so the stronger something smells in a skincare product, the more nervous I am about using it. And this stuff is strong. Some people describe it as a nice subtle scent but I totally disagree. Nice yes, but not subtle in the slightest, it’s strong and pungent and as much as it is pleasant (if you like the smell of citrus) it’s not the way I usually like my serums to smell.
How My Skin Reacted
So look, there was no denying that this serum had a lot of high reviews behind it so I decided that I would give it the benefit of the doubt and give it a try despite my initial thoughts on its appearance. I’m not new to retinol so I know the drill on how to use it correctly and with a high concentration of 2.5% retinol, I proceeded pretty slowly.
So here’s the thing, I started with twice a week use and that’s pretty much as far as I got because, almost straight away, I started to develop a breakout of epic proportions and a lovely rash while I was at it. And this wasn’t the type of irritation you’d expect from using a strong retinol product, this was the type of irritation you get when your skin is reacting to something that it doesn’t like.
I Tried Again
Annoyingly, I did do a skin patch test before using it but unfortunately, it wasn’t until I went full facial for a few days that my skin started to react. I stopped using the serum and waited for my skin to calm down then made a second attempt only this time I dropped all other products temporarily in case it was mixing badly with something I was already using but unfortunately it still ended with the same result.
I’m usually pretty lucky when it comes to skincare products and I don’t tend to have issues with most products I try including higher strength retinol but unfortunately this wasn’t the case with this serum. There was obviously something in this formula that my skin didn’t like and as such, it reacted accordingly to let me know of its utter disapproval.
Disappointed Or Not Disappointed
Part of me was a little disappointed while another part of me wasn’t because there were already a few things that I didn’t like about the serum before I even tried to use it. However, this was such a good bargain that there was a part of me hoping for good results especially with all the good reviews this particular serum had behind it.
I should mention that I must have entered into some strange twilight zone recently because when I bought this product, it had well over 2000 reviews on it on the Amazon US site. (I bought it from the UK site but I always check the US site because it tends to have more reviews) Now it only has 1 review which is slightly confusing even though in the questions and answers section there are still people remarking about all the good reviews it has. I’m not entirely sure what that’s all about but it’s odd to say the least.
The Final Verdict
Well, obviously the InstaNatural Retinol Serum is not the serum for me for numerous reasons and I’m still not entirely sure of what it was exactly that my skin disliked so much but as I mentioned in the beginning, everyone’s skin is different. So maybe you’ve already had or will have a completely different experience with it than I did which I’d love to hear all about if you feel like sharing.
On a side note, I decided to do a little experiment with what I had left in the bottle so for an entire month I left the bottle in a warm, bright bathroom and left the lid off for several hours each day to see if it would in fact change in colour and as I suspected, it didn’t (well, it wasn’t quite as luminous). In fact, the only real noticeable change was to the smell which became much weaker.
Did it actually oxidize? Well, I’d be shocked if it didn’t but honestly I can’t really say for sure and that’s exactly the reason why I’m not a big fan of brightly coloured serums in the first place because it’s near impossible to tell.