In 2010, Strivectin went from being one of the most overhyped, underperforming product lines on the market to being one of the best. They *completely* reformulated their products--as in, started again from square one--with new (excellent) actives borrowed from the brand NIA-24 instead of the old snake-oil actives.
There is a *huge* difference between the old and the new Strivectin products, and it's a shame that people might judge the new ones based on the lackluster reviews of the old.
Basically, if your bottle says "5% Striadil" on it, you're dealing with the old stuff. If it says something about NIA-114, you have the new stuff.
Pro-NIA, the molecule found in both NIA-24 and StriVectin products, is basically a niacinamide-type molecule with a lipophilic tail so it can penetrate the skin better. In theory, it should have the same type of results as regular niacinamide but with more potency and higher efficacy. These results are evening of skin tone, improvement of ceramide production, and decrease of oil overproduction. In addition, the studies on Strivectin's website suggest that the combination of Pro-NIA with peptides as found in the products improve skin barrier thickness and plump out the collagen layer (see pictures here: http://www.strivectin.com/science/how-it-works.html).
When I discovered that niacinamide was my (combination, dryish, hormonal acne-prone, blotchy) skin's best friend, I started comparing the niacinamide products on the market, and determined that Strivectin was the best. Nia-24's Skin Strengthening Complex ran a close second, but the value of the Nia-24 products is slightly less for the amount of Pro-Nia you get, and they don't include the peptide complex in Strivectin. Plus, I find that the Nia-24 products have too much silicone for me. (Please see my review of the Nia-24 Skin Strengthening Complex for a discussion of the respective Pro-Nia amounts and the difference in value.)
The regular Strivectin-SD product has worked well for me--very comparably to Nia-24's Skin Strengthening complex--but I ultimately prefer the version for sensitive skin as it contains less silicone and has soothing ingredients like oat kernel extract.
Using this product every night for a few weeks has done fantastic things for my skin already. It has made my skin much less reactive to retinoids and silicone-containing products, which in the past have caused huge problems for me. .025% tretinoin no longer causes a full-scale peel two days after I use it, and primers with silicone no longer cause my skin to become dry, flaky, and clogged after one day's use. Basically, my skin is calmer. It also has a *huge* improvement in tone, with much, much less redness and blotchiness. This has caused my face to look dramatically better overall. In fact, it's one of the most extraordinary and quick results I've ever gotten from a product.
Now I rarely have breakouts except for the obligatory monthly one, and even that is much more under control. When I get pimples, they're no longer painful, irritated, and crying to be extracted. Instead, they're small and barely noticeable, and I feel perfectly comfortable just ignoring them until they go away (a *huge* feat for me). Since I started using Strivectin-SD, I actually lost my 30% BHA solution since I haven't had to touch it. (I used to use it almost daily.) Nothing, including prescription retinoids and topical antibiotics, has ever made such a significant and *tolerable* difference for my acne. I have no flaking, peeling, or other ugly reactions--just smooth, balanced, beautiful skin.
If you're interested in trying this product--or its non-sensitive counterpart, regular Strivectin-SD, for those who can tolerate a bit more silicone--trial sizes can be bought for around $15, and will last long enough for you to assess your preliminary results. I seriously recommend this product to those with any form of "blotchy" skin, whether it's from acne, scarring, redness, sensitivity, or hyperpigmentation. If it works for you, you will never want to stop using it.