Every year, when Autumn approaches and rain seems to be pouring daily, I start my regime of Retin-A (tretinoin). I started using tretinoin in my early-mid 30s, then stopped for about 2 years when I was pregnant and breastfeeding my son. I just re-started the treatment again last year, so this is my second year around post-pregnancy/lactation. I do not use Retin-A during Summer months/when it starts to get sunny regularly -- even the strongest sunscreen are not reliable, especially if you are outdoor a lot like me, so I much rather just stop all together and restart again.
I have always used the lowest strength (0.025% cream). One uses Retin-A gradually: I normally start once a week (with the smallest amount possible) for a week, then twice a week for another week, then three times a week for another week and so on. The goal is to be able to use this daily so the skin starts getting the anti-aging benefit.
Inevitably, whenever I start, I always experience peeling, burning, and redness, especially for the first few months. When that happen, I give my skin a break for however many day it takes until it is back to normal and then re-start. It is really one step forward, two steps back process with Retin-A.
During that recovery time, nothing seems comfortable. Everything burns -- even those skin care that claims to have been formulated with sensitive skin in mind. This is when facial oil comes in. In the past, I've used straight up jojoba oil, coconut oil, or La Roche Posay Cicaplast on top of Hada Labo toner and cover the area lightly with Aquaphor or CeraVe cream. This year, I experimented with more sophisticated facial oil, avoiding those combinations that contains essential oil. I came across two this year that I tried: Best Face Forward Natural Serum Oil and the über popular Sunday Riley Juno.
Best Face Forward Natural Serum Oil ($40/1 fl oz)
I came across this from The Non-Blonde (Gaia)'s website and she spoke highly of this oil. I ordered the sample which is very generous in size (see picture above). Half-fluid ounces lasted me at least two weeks of continual use.
The yellow oil is rather slippy but get absorbed readily in about half an hour. It does not smell like anything other than perhaps a bit herbal. It does contain some aromatic essential oils but they did not sting or bother my sensitive, raw, red face. I think ladies with normal, normal-dry skin will enjoy this oil, those with normal-oily skin can perhaps use less and still find this oil not feeling too oily.
Ingredients (per website -- not listed according to amount)
Argan Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Hazelnut Oil, Rosehips Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, White Camellia Oil, Marula Oil, Kalahari Melon Seed Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Rose Essential Oil, Helchrysum Essential Oil, Carrot Oil, Carrot Seed oil, Cranberry Seed Oil, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Kukui Nut oil, Rice Bran Oil.
Sunday Riley Juno ($125/1 fl oz)
A whopping $85 above the BFF, this oil boasted lots of anti-oxidant rich oils. Unlike BFF, this formula does not contain EO and smells, indeed, like cumin/broccoli (think of Indian food) -- worry not, the scent does not linger and does not bother me the least bit.
Despite of Juno's claim to be "lightweight, fast-absorbing oils," the greenish-yellow serum feels rather thick, definitely more viscous than BFF and the oil slick lingers, even overnight. It says that it is meant for all skin type, but if I have normal-oily, or even slightly oily-but otherwise normal skin, I would stay away from this because, as I said, the oils are not readily absorbed. YMMV but I highly suggest you try a sample before committing to the whole expensive bottle.
Other than that, Juno does not sensitize my skin. It gives a nice cushion sandwich between the hyaluronic lotion and the occlusive cream on top, cocooning my skin.
I cannot vouch for the anti-oxidant properties of these two oils. I don't find my skin heal faster with one or the other, nor worsening with one or the other. You know how much I love affordable skin care but ultimately, I chose Juno over BFF for its virtue of being thicker/slicker than BFF. My dry skin just slurps up BFF so readily, it has yet a chance to produce an effective barrier. I can do facial massage with Juno and I can still feel some residual oil on my face. So, sometimes when the brand's claim does not measure up, it can be a good thing. For those who would like a more affordable alternative, I think BFF is really worth a try. In fact, I think I will switch up to BFF comes Summer and go back to Juno during Winter months.
Omega -9 fatty acids are naturally produced in human body, whereas omega -3 and -6 need to be supplemented from diet. Omega -3 is produced in limited quantities in mammals, whereas omega -6 is abundant in animal source or farmed animal which are fed grains. For example, farmed salmon, which are grain-fed, actually has more omega -6 than omega -3 fatty acids, compared to wild salmon which is rich in omega -3. All of them are the derivative of arachidonic acid that acts as cellular messenger in the body. Interestingly, arachidonic acid are also converted to prostaglandins which is a signaling molecule involved in inflammation. Omega -6 is mostly involved in inflammatory reactions because it is more abundant and readily available.
Studies of the role of omega -3, -6, and -9 fatty acids in topical products, particularly for wound protection/healing, has been quite limited. In fact, I've only found one here, and the result is not that spectacular. If I were you, I wouldn't get caught up so much of the hype of all these omega oils in skin care. I would focus on the function and whether or not particular product suits the needs of your skin. Ingested omega -3 fatty acids supplementation is a whole other story.
If you feel particularly geeky: the correct way of pronouncing omega -3, -6, -9 are "omega minus three," "omega minus six," "omega minus nine." That is due to the conventional nomenclature of unsaturated bond in fatty acids. But, I have yet to come across a person actually saying, "This omega minus three capsules are very stinky!"