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Product Reviews

Exclusive Interview with FutureDerm and Review of the Time-Release Retinol 0.5

Enjoy this short Q&A session with Nicki Zevola, the creator of the FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 product. It answers several questions that have thus far, not been asked yet!

Why did you decide to start your own skin care line?

Three reasons: One, I always wanted to start my own skin care line. I always wanted to be the next Estee Lauder. Two, I was in medical school studying to be a dermatologist, and it occurred to me that I could help millions of people achieve better skin if I invented amazing innovative products, in addition to those I would encounter in practice. Three, I won several business competitions, and it made me realize it was time now to live this dream!

Why did you choose to feature retinol in your debut product?

Other than sunscreen, retinol is the most recommended product by dermatologists. It is well-known within the dermatological sphere that retinoids increase cell turnover and inhibit matrix metalloproteinases, fighting fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, collagen loss, and more. So I was enthusiastic to start with retinol.

Why did you decide to go with 0.5% retinol, instead of something stronger like 1.0% or even 1.5%?

We wanted to begin with a level that was strong enough to be efficacious, but gentle enough where people would not experience a lot of peeling, burning, etc. Once our brand is well-established, we definitely plan to release a 1.0%. Not sure about 1.5% or 2.0% yet – these do exist, but they are quite strong, and we would need lots of disclaimers!

As we all know by now, retinol, tocopherol, and several of the plant  extracts included (aloe vera, white willow) are quite sensitive to air exposure. Was the product manufactured in an air-free atmosphere? Is that even possible? 

We work with a team of very careful cosmetic chemists who know what they are doing! To reveal more would be to give away our trade secrets 🙂

While I am personally all in favor of the use of parabens, why did you  decide to go with a paraben-based preservative system, instead of  something like phenoxyethanol or benzyl alcohol?

I have spoken to over 200 dermatologists in my career and training, and truth be told, not one of them has a problem with parabens in beauty products. Parabens are amongst the safest and most cost-effective preservative systems in beauty products today.

What was the most exciting part of creating your very own product?

The most exciting part of creating my own product was seeing the dream come to fruition, receiving our first “thank you” letter with photos of great results (and repeat orders!).

How have YOU implemented this product into your own skin care routine? Can you please list your current routine?

Definitely! I now use FutureDerm Vitamin CE Ferulic in the morning (for release next month), plus a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen during the day. At night, I use FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 and MLA Skin Care Power Cream over top. I also use Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Cream with the retinol, as retinol and vitamin K were shown to be the most potent combination against dark circles in an independent, peer-reviewed study. Once per week, I use Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads or a lactic acid treatment instead of retinol, to get the benefits of AHAs in there as well.

I’d like to thank Nicki for taking the time to speak with us, and without further ado here are my first impressions and review of this product!

FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 ($54.95 for 1 oz)

Positives: This contains a definite amount of 0.5% retinol, which is great! Unlike some other companies, the amount is listed right on the package. FutureDerm doesn’t hide behind the whole “proprietary” issue when it comes to this aspect. Retinol converts to tretinoin along a very complicated pathway; tretinoin of course has many documented benefits. The retinol is “microencapsulated in a lightweight gel formula that is perfect for use together with your other favorite moisturizers.”

This also contains moderate to low amounts of the willow bark extract and aloe vera, which are both anti-inflammatories. The former is also the natural source of salicylic acid, though in its current form it has no exfoliative properties, nor does it require a pH to function. They are present to help combat any irritation from the retinol content.

There’s also a tiny bit of vitamin E, though its function is more to protect the retinol, rather than the skin. However, its inclusion is nevertheless a positive aspect of this product.

Neutrals: None.

Negatives: None.

Packaging: This is packaged in an opaque and airless pump bottle, which is the most protective type of packaging possible.

Overall: With it’s special microencapsulated retinol that allegedly allows for a slower release time, in order to minimize irritation and allow time for more conversion of the retinol to tretinoin, this is quite a unique product. And I’m okay with the inclusion of ethanol. While it’s present in quite high amounts, it helps solubilize the ingredients, fluidize the texture, and enhance penetration, without permanently damaging the skin. However, I do acknowledge that like I said in my ethanol post, that there are less potent solvent alternatives like ethoxydiglycol that have similar functions and properties.

Like many retinol products, this one is unfortunately a bit one-noted. It doesn’t contain any other “(guest) star” ingredient such as green tea, or niacinamide. And while not all ingredients are created equal, it would be more beneficial for the skin to be subjected to multiple well-documented ingredients.

The water, glycerin, and ethanol based vehicle gives this a very lightweight texture and absorbs very quickly. It mattifies within about 15 seconds in my experience. If an additional moisturizer is required on top of this, make sure that the product is also in the appropriate pH range of 6.5ish, which I stated in the retinol metabolism post linked above, just to allow for optimal conversion.

Overall, I’d say this is a great buy and while slightly pricey, to give this a try if you’re in the market for a new retinol serum, especially with the introductory 30% off price, which ends on the 19th of this month. That’s 4 days away, so don’t hesitate for too long! As far as I know, this product is different than any OTC retinol treatment avaiable on the market!


PS = [[[PIS – 0] x WIC] + [TPS x WPC]] x 100%

PS = [[9/10 x 2/3] + [3/3 x 1/3]] x 100%

PS = [18/30 + 3/9] x 100%

PS = [54/90 + 30/90] x 100%

PS = 84/90 x 100%

PS = .933 x 100%

PS = 93.3%

AS = A

Check the Product Review Rubric for a full explanation on how I rate products.


0.5% Retinol, Aqua, Glycerin (hydrator), Alcohol (thins the solution), Octyldodecanol (emulsifier), Butylene Glycol (thins the solution), cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone (emulsifier), Allyl Metacrylates Crosspolymer (film-forming agent), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), Salix Alba Bark Extract (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (anti-inflammatory), BHT (antioxidant), Tocopherol (antioxidant), PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate (emollient), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (thickening agent), Triethanolamine (pH adjuster), Propylene Glycol (thins the solution), Diazolidinyl Urea (antimicrobial preservative), Propylparaben (antimicrobial preservative), Methylparaben (antimicrobial preservative). 

***Disclaimer: There were several other questions that I wanted to ask. However, because Nicki is bound by a non-disclosure agreement, she could not give me the answers to those questions. Furthermore, for the product review, I was not allowed to muse or speculate upon potential formulary technologies based on the knowledge I’ve acquired through research, etc… due to my affiliation with FutureDerm. Also, I received a full-sized sample for testing. I may do another post in the future to update my experience with the product after I finish it, and/or if I see a significant difference in my skin.

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


4 thoughts on “Exclusive Interview with FutureDerm and Review of the Time-Release Retinol 0.5

  1. I purchased the Time-Release Retinol 0.5 when it was first available for order (so a long while back!). Never had I used any retinol prior and this product never irritated me. I did follow the instructions to build skin tolerance for it by using it once, then twice a week, then alternating nights and so forth. 🙂 I can’t believe I never read this post! Anyways, I plan to repurchase it soon. I took a few month’s break from it to see how my skin would live without it and I dare say this makes a big difference in my skin.

    What are your thoughts on glycolics as opposed to retinol? Sorry if you’ve written about that already! 🙂 thanks!

    Posted by Janessa | August 5, 2013, 5:22 pm
  2. “due to my affiliation with FutureDerm” Wow, sellout much?? So i guess since she says she WAS in medical school, she is no longer? So is the name “Future Derm” just as much BS as her blog is in general b/c its now its like reading allure magazine.

    Posted by Val | September 15, 2012, 11:30 pm
    • Hey Val, I responded to these issues in the Facebook comment that you made. 🙂 And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything in Allure Magazine that looks like this product review.

      Posted by John | September 16, 2012, 5:21 pm

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