Q: Why is the retinol serum bright yellow?
No, we don't add coloring to the serum! That's the naturally-occurring color of this special, special retinoid.
All retinoids are derived from Vitamin A––which is derived from beta-Carotene, the bright orange pigment that gives carrots and other vegetables their color. Protocol uses retinol in its oxidate state, called retinal, which is the form that's created when you apply regular retinol to your skin. This naturally occurring form is (naturally) bright, powdery yellow!
Q: Are your products vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free?
Yes, yes and of course!
We went to great lengths to source the two most-commonly animal-derived ingredients––lactic acid, usually derived from milk, and hyaluronic acid, usually derived from rooster combs :( ––from beets and cashews. There wasn't really a temptation to add gluten to our products, since there is no benefit to the skin. In addition, in the days of Instagram, where there are thousands of willing skincare enthusiasts, who are excited to try free products, brands really need to go out of their way to test on animals. We are proud to have had the best interest of our fellow Earth inhabitants in mind since Day 1.
Q: How long before it gets here?
Orders usually ship within 24 hours with free ground shipping from Los Angeles (2-5 days in continental U.S.).
Our products are lab-made with painstaking attention to detail by trained technicians. This means our quality and customer service are unparalleled, but it also means that we do sell out beyond our capacity on occasion (with big press features, pandemic shutdowns, etc.). There are occasions where delays will be as long as 10 days from order to delivery. We will always specify if this is the case.
Q: Are your products "clean"?
In most cases, this question refers to the presence of "toxins" or toxin-producing chemicals. All of our ingredients were checked against databases for toxicity, known irritation or allergy frequency, comedogenics etc., and of course no toxins were included in our formulas.
Q: Where are you products made?
Los Angeles, with some components made in Denver, Portland, Phoenix and Miami.
We source key components of our formulas from different parts of the United States, based on where we can most efficiently achieve the highest level of quality. But the final products are created in our Lab just outside of Los Angeles.
Q: Show me the studies.
Ok! (Email us if you'd like to see more)
The ability of Vitamin C in a preserved, L-Ascorbic Acid form has the ability to boost collagen creation, reduce hyperpigmentation and repair other various skin malfunctions and damage. (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: Vitamin C Cutaneous Effectiveness)
The oxidate form of retinol (retinal) has equal anti-aging effects to retinoic acid (prescription retinol) but without the drying and inflammation. Regular retinol has 1/20th bio-available potency. (Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging: Overview of Clinical Effectiveness)
Glycolic acid aids in collagen production, water retention and amplifies the clinical effects of retinoids. (Clinics in Dermatology: Hydroxy Acids and Retinoids)
Q: Are your products safe for sensitive skin and rosacea?
We designed them with those in mind!
Rosacea is technically a medical condition so we need to recommend that you consult your physician before making any adjustments to your skincare routine or medication. That said, we have numerous clients who have described having sensitive skin or rosacea (or both) and who have found great success using our products. In most cases, this required slowly introducing one product at a time to allow their skin to adjust to new stimuli. However, some clients who have reacted to literally all other forms of retinol serums, for example, were able to dive into using the Oxidated Retinol Serum daily without issue. It's all a matter of listening to your skin and giving it time to adapt. We believe the patience is worth the exceptional benefits in the long run.
Q: Do your products work for acne?
Retinoids are indicated for blemish control and we use what we think is the best retinoid on Earth! AHAs are meant for resurfacing though.
We have to give that non-answer because acne is also a medical condition and so we must recommend that you consult your physician or dermatologist before making any changes to your routine. However, we can say that many of our clients have described a "life-changing" impact on ongoing issues with breakouts. The bioactive form of retinol in our serum is shown in third-party clinical studies to be up to 20x more effective and potent than regular retinol and very similar in effect to prescription retinol (though without the drying). Do feel free to send your dermatologist a link to our retinol. They usually end up buying some for themselves. ;)
With that said, we do recommend that you continue using your routine acne cleanser on top of our double AHA cleanser. Acne cleansers are usually salicylic acid, soluble BHA, which penetrates more deeply than the AHAs––which are meant for precise resurfacing and renewal of your skin. The ideal order is to start with a basic salicylic and follow it up with an AHA.
Q: How does your retinol serum compare to my prescription retinol?
Oxidated Retinol is the precursor to retinoic acid (prescription retinol), meaning your body converts it to retinoic acid as soon as it hits your skin.
You know the drill. We need to recommend that you consult your physician before making any changes to your prescribed medications! However, we can say that in head-to-head studies (below) the oxidate form of retinol (retinal) performed as well or better than prescription retinoic acid at reducing wrinkles, boosting collagen and removing hyperpigmentation.
Q: What is "retinol purging"?
It's when retinoids quickly purify your skin, causing a small breakout.
TRUE, high-potency retinoids work to return your skin cell behavior to an all around more vivacious high-functioning state. It exfoliates, boosts collagen production, increases cell reproduction rate (also called "turnover" rate), repairs imperfections and, on the topic at hand, removes impurities. One of the first things it does is to clear out clogged pores or other cellular impurities that were lying dormant, perhaps for an extended period of time. In this process, some clients will see a small temporary breakout that will seem out of character for your skin. This is what's commonly referred to (like in this Refinery29 article) as retinol purging. As mentioned in our reviews, many of our clients who experienced this were excited to finally find a retinoid that actually does it's job. This is a sign that good work is being done and smoother, brighter, more youthful-looking skin was going to be just around the corner.
Q: How do I use them?
You'll get detailed instructions but...Vitamin C Superserum in the morning, and Oxidated Retinol Serum at night. Cleanse whenever you want and moisturize as often as possible.
The proper order for any skincare routine is to cleanse (BHA followed by AHA if you use both), then choose ONE "focus" active (like Vitamin C or Retinol, usually in serum form) then moisturize. Just keep in mind your skin can only absorb so much at a given moment.
Q: Can they be used with other products?
In general, we're a big fans of giving our full line a try totally on its own. Many products out there are what we call "ingredient bombs," that are full of poorly formulated ingredients that have no intention of actually being absorbed. These products will coat and overload your skin preventing it from absorbing the few, key ingredients that ACTUALLY can be used by your skin to make a big difference. Feel free to contact us with any specific questions for products you'd like to use in tandom. The only element that we commonly recommend adding to the Complete Line is a salicylic acid (BHA) cleanser, which is better suited for deep cleansing (while our cleanser is built for resurfacing).
Q: Won't my product just degrade when I put it on my skin if it's sensitive to air and UV light?
If you thought of this, you get a gold star.
Yes, the best forms of retinol and vitamin c are EXTREMELY sensitive to light and air (and no there aren't "stabilized" forms of them, ferulic acid just mildly extends the life of the serum before it turns brown and sour). That said, when you pump them out of our proprietary airless and UV-proof orange bottle and put them on your skin, your skin will absorb them faster than they can degrade. This degradation really comes into play in the weeks (or months if you shop in store) between when the bottle is made and when it gets to your skin. That said, your skin does do its best absorption in the dark. So might as well stay out of direct sunlight for 30 minutes after you apply a quality ingredient.
Q: Do you offer samples?
Not at this time.
Because our bottling process is so technically complicated, we have not found it to be economically viable yet to produce free samples. We encourage you to read our reviews and comments on Facebook ads for further evidence of the effectiveness and value of our products!