Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM


60 reviews

81% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.3

Price: $$$$

Package Quality: 3.3

Price: $$$$



on 8/21/2015 7:42:00 AM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Red, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Brown

I have been using this for almost a year, and it works well for my hormonal acne prone over 40 skin. I found 5 drops to work the best, but I started out slow. It is very lightweight, and seems to penetrate immediately. It doesn't irritate my skin and as I increased from 2 to 5 the benefits seemed to increase. I use a soap free glycolic acid cleanser before, and pure Argan oil after the retinol. So for now this is great for me!

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Age: 36-43

Skin: Normal, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Blue

Choosing a good OTC retinol product is tricky! There are so many choices out there at so many different price points. I always get overwhelmed :/. FYI, I used to focus mainly on high end products for all of my makeup and skincare needs. That was back in the day when I was more flush with cash and foolishly ignored most drugstore options.

These days, with the high end stuff as my baseline, I've happily settled into discovering drugstore-priced products that work just as well or better as the pricier stuff that I used to use. It's a fun challenge and I've been happy to find that there's good stuff almost everywhere.

Why do I bring this up? Well, PTR's retinol serum is one of the few products that just doesn't have a satisfactory drugstore equivalent. It's one of the only holdovers from my fancypants years when I was basically throwing dollar bills into the wind (not really, but kinda).

My reasons are basically a combination of research, textural/personal preferences and perceived efficacy:

1. The stated amount of retinol is 1.5%, which is very high for an OTC product.

[EDIT 6.27.2015: I'm not sure if this is still true, but as of 2011, stated that this has the highest concentration of retinol in an OTC product (]

2. The retinol ingredient is encapsulated (microencapsulated, actually), which means that apparently it degrades more slowly than non-encapsulated retinol, and it's also gentler because it's time-delayed in terms of being released into the skin. Also, according to The Beauty Brains' book, _It's Okay to Have Lead in Your Lipstick_ (fun and fascinating book, BTW!), "a product with 2% retinol that is not encapsulated may be less effective than a product with 0.5% retinol that is encapsulated."

I *think* that's how this product is able to get away with using a dropper-style bottle, even though we're all indoctrinated into the idea that a product like this shouldn't be exposed to air, like ever. A little part of me is still skeptical and just for ease of application, would prefer a pump-style bottle.'s probably formulated well enough (that whole encapsulation thing) that it's not the issue that it might be with other OTC retinol products.

3. It contains Vitamins C & E. More good ingredients! But also a good reason to not try to stretch out the bottle longer than say, 3-6 months. (On that note, my current bottle is a little bit older than six months but shows no signs of oxidation. Yay! But I ought to use up the rest as quickly as possible).

4. On a personal level, I like the serum texture. This is definitely one of those things that falls squarely into the realm of personal preference, but I'm a layerer by nature and I like the fact that this stuff sinks in right quick (I usually use it as the first layer in my routine). It also just feels like it absorbs better than some of the creamier styles of OTC retinol products I've tried (I like and use those styles too, BTW, but I don't think they work as well as this stuff, overall).

I'm on my third or fourth bottle of this by the way (would I buy this product again? Yup, yup and yup). Still haven't found a good equivalent at a lower price (there's a CeraVe product that recently came out that contains encapsulated retinol...seemed very promising on paper, but alas turned out to be a bit of a dud in practice (wouldn't absorb properly/balled up weirdly/still waiting for version 2.0).

Highly recommend this stuff [FOOTNOTE]* if you have the bucks to spare but there are plenty of good cheaper options out there too (that I also sometimes use, but which don't seem quite as effective). Four lippies because it's on the pricy side and I wish it had a pump bottle for easier dispensation of product. [EDIT 6.27.2015: Bumped this up to five lippies because it's worth the high price. Just repurchased again (fifth bottle, I think!).]

*[FOOTNOTE]: if you have sensitive and/or acnegenic skin (I have neither), check out the other reviews before making a decision. My own skin type is mostly normal (prone to dehydration but easily keep that at bay with proper moisturization) and pretty much bulletproof.

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

on 6/22/2015 11:30:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Olive, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

Any product that makes your skin break out into dozens of tiny red bumps is a no-go. I stopped and started this product to ensure this was the cause. It was. I will never use it again.

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

on 3/24/2015 8:57:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Oily, Fair-Medium, Cool

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I'm on my second bottle of this and will probably buy another. It feels so oily but sinks in completely and produces no redness, dryness or breakouts on my oily-but-sensitive skin at all. I feel like it keeps my skin clear and improves the look of pores and texture, and is great for use under the eyes! As far as any wrinkle improvement, I only see that under the eyes. Wish it was in smaller bottles as I can't use it up in 6 months and use it approx 5 times a week (not on forehead, that gets Retin-A Micro). I find it easiest to drop a few drops in the palm of my hand and dip fingers in there and apply liberally to face.

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

on 3/21/2015 6:07:00 AM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Blond, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Green

I read somewhere that when you reach a certain age, you're supposed to use a retinol product, so I did a bit of research and read lots of reviews and decided on this one. When I first started using it about six months ago, I used it perhaps three times a week, but now I've cut down to two times a week. To be honest, I haven't noticed any differerence in my skin after having used it for six months; my skin looks the same. It is possible that this is more of a long term product though and that I won't notice a difference until I'm much older. Then again, I won't have anything to compare my skin to at that point.

This product is supposed to be good for the skin, so I will most likely continue to use it. However, I it really does dry out my skin, which I don't like, so two times a week is enough for me. So, remember to use a good serum and a moisturiser after having applied this product, as your skin will get super dry if you don't.

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

on 2/19/2015 10:12:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Very Oily, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Hazel

I am on my third bottle of this. Doesn't last me as long as most, I am very heavy handed and it's not the easiest product to apply, so watery. I did steal the tip from a member on here though and just put a couple drops on one cheek and rub in, then couple of drops on the other cheek and rub in, etc. I tried at first to put it in my hand and then rub on face but that was such a waste of product. Much easier to just drop a few drops directly onto your face and rub. I really think this product has helped a lot with lines. I use it every other night and really have noticed a difference. Never had any peeling or anything but my skin is pretty tough. Highly recommend!

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

on 2/2/2015 11:48:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Normal, Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Love this product. I don't have many options to choose from when it comes to retinol products so glad to have found this in my local Sephora. I use retinol more as prevention so can't vouch whether fine lines have visibly reduced, but in conjunction with my daily routine my skin is in a happy state - balanced, minimal blemishes and relatively even toned. I like that it has vitamin C&E too so my anti oxidant requirement is met. I've been fortunate not to experience any sensitivities/dryness/redness/flaking so have no problem using this nightly from the get go (and I use this after an exfoliant like AHA/BHA). The super thin formula means it gets absorbed quickly that I can follow up with another product with minimal waiting time (I have normal to dry skin so using this serum alone doesn't help).

The only con for me is the price, although I suppose one bottle could probably last about 6 months so perhaps it's not so bad cost per use wise.

on 12/20/2014 12:58:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Medium Brown, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Very good retinol, very effective but non-irritating (with once a week use). I initially applied it nightly but found that it dried my skin out - now I use it weekly, I apply it to my face, hands, and feet. The chemical exfoliation has definitely helped smooth out my skin texture. It's a bit on the expensive side at $65 a bottle but with weekly use it does last for months.

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

on 10/16/2014 9:26:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

UPDATED 7/2015
I got Tretinoin cream prescribed for 77$ For 1.7 oz. That's almost the same price as I paid for 1 oz of the PTR. If getting real thing and more of it is about the same cost as getting OTC Retinol, the choice for me is simple.

I've finished the 1 oz bottle, it took about 3 months. I took before and after photos. Overall the product did work in some aspects, and I do like it. However, I've no idea if this product works as well as cheaper, mass market alternatives. I've bought a Neutragena retinol serum and am starting it now. We shall see how they compare. Pros and Cons below.

PROS: I love the minimal ingredients. It's almost impossible to find another retinol product with so few ingredients. I love the watery feel and the fact that it absorbs right in with no after feel or film. It's super gentle, I never experienced any irritation or peeling. It absolutely worked in evening out my skin tone and minimizing sun spots and hyperpigmentation. I stopped using my AHA acids while using this product in order to get a true idea of what it could do. And with regard to evening and brightening skin tone - THIS STUFF WORKED. I noticed, my husband noticed, and pics don't lie.

CONS: It should be in a pump or other airtight container. The price I paid, $65 an ounce, is ridiculous, clearly paying for the brand name. It did ALMOST NOTHING for my fine lines/wrinkles. I was disappointed by that.

My skin: normal to dry, not sensitive, no acne or breakouts or other skin issues. I do have some fine lines and wrinkles as well as some sun damage/hyperpigmentation and uneven texture. I was looking to add a retinol product to my routine, to complement my regular use of AHAs. Based on reviews, I purchased this from PTR. I have taken a series of 'before pics'.

I don't have a problem with the packaging. I am accustomed to using a dropper. The product is quite what watery, but with care I had no issues. I simply dropped a few drops onto my forehead rubbed it in, and continued that way with my cheeks and the rest of my face. No spillage or wasting. The serum went on smooth, it's somewhat like a dry oil but it absorbs quickly for me. My skin felt smooth after application. It has caused me no irritation, flakiness or redness.

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

on 8/31/2014 4:45:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Red, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

I made a profile specifically to tell everyone to buy this product! It has made a dramatic change in my skin. For the first time in my adult life, I can go a week without one pimple, and the blemishes that do appear are much quicker to heal. Post- inflammatory hyper pigmentation disappears in a few days (where it used to take months) and the fine lines in my forehead are smoothing out. Though it has a high retinol content for an OTC serum, I have experienced no irritation. It did dry out my skin when I used it everyday at first, so be sure to build up your tolerance.

Yes, it is expensive, and you have to be EXTREMELY careful not to knock over the bottle and waste the whole thing. But all of this is worth it as long as I don't have to slather myself in concealer. Also, I have heard some people mention that the non-airtight packaging diminishes the efficacy of the retinol. From what I understand, this retinol is micro-encapsulated, meaning that it is protected from destabilizing with exposure to the elements.


3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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