I’m about to be one million percent honest with you. As much as I love Versed, I did not want to try this product. It’s not that I don’t love everything Versed stands for (affordable prices! nontoxic! eco-friendly packaging! active ingredients!), it’s just that when it comes to retinol. I’m just a tad, shall we say, scarred. In fact, when the Versed team approached me to test out the Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum for a few weeks prior to the highly anticipated release, I had just experienced a hellish (i.e., chapped, red, painful AF) reaction to a more intense, non-natural formula recommended to me by my esthetician. My skin was still healing and irritated, and the last thing I wanted to do was throw another formula in the mix while I licked my wounds—no matter how gentle or wonderful it was touted to be. Alas, being the face- and skin-sacrificing beauty editor that I am, I decided to ditch my worries and ultimately packed it into my carry-on prior to a full week at home for Thanksgiving. My strategy: If my face did turn into one big red scab, at least my family would be kind enough not to judge me.
A few days after I landed in Arizona, my skin was slowly but surely healing from the previous retinol disaster but, mind you, well on its way to flake-city thanks to the arid desert conditions of Tucson. Thus, it was experiment time. Since I’m prone to breakouts and also try to keep my routine as streamlined as possible—especially while traveling—I applied the serum after cleansing with no other serums or tonics in between. Almost instantly, I knew this wasn’t like any other retinol serum or product I had ever tried. First of all, it was so smooth and soothing to apply. It absorbed quickly, but it didn’t leave my skin feeling dry or parched, and my complexion felt so hydrated and glowy afterward I actually skipped my usual nighttime moisturizer. So far, so good, I thought.
The next morning, I woke up and practically ran to the bathroom mirror. Typically, no matter what I’ve applied the night prior, I wake up feeling dry and tight whenever I’m in Arizona, and I expected to immediately regret the decision to forgo moisturizer the night before. Therefore, I was genuinely shocked to see that not only did a few stubborn pimples look smaller and less red (it was like they had magically deflated overnight), but my skin was also dewy and not, in fact, thirsting for immediate hydration. Despite how impressed I was, I knew it could be a first-application fluke, but as I continued to apply it nightly (still with no moisturizer!) for the rest of the week, I woke up consistently each morning with skin that, slowly but surely, was looking brighter, smoother, and miraculously less congested. Additionally, the formula didn’t exacerbate or perpetuate the still-healing irritation from my old formula, and it actually seemed to be helping along the irritation’s gradual disappearance.
Another thing: I really truly appreciate the fact that this retinol serum is creamy in consistency and smartly packaged to make it easy to travel with. It spreads evenly, and I love that it doesn’t drip or feel oily on my face. I truly detest it when I can feel products lingering on my skin—whether they feel sticky, greasy, slippery, or just cloying—and this retinol serum feels remarkably invisible while completely delivering on all of its lofty claims and benefits. I don’t know if this has ever happened before during my career as a beauty editor, but I honestly can’t find anything wrong with this product. And, mind you, I’m hypercritical when it comes to skincare.
Oh, and just in case you think I’m biased because Versed is our sister brand, I’m not. I always make it my goal to be completely honest and unfiltered when it comes to feedback and reviews, and while I swear by certain products from Versed such as Hydration Station ($20), Silk Slip ($10), Zero-G ($18), and Look Alive ($10), others such as Wash It Out ($13) and The Fix ($18) have left me unimpressed.
The fact that this serum is only $22 is absurd, and I mean that in the best way possible. Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum is not only my new favorite product from Versed, but it’s also my new favorite product period.