Occupational hazards of a beauty writer include never being able to put down a new product without looking at its ingredients — and risking your face for the sake of new releases. The latter happened to me three months ago when I finally stopped breastfeeding and decided to slather my under eyes with a retinol eye cream, an attempt to erase the years that having a child has put on my face.

Alas, the high retinol content after almost two years of not using retinol products in my regimen gave me eczema under my eyes. I’m going to chalk this beauty boohoo to mom brain. I steered clear until Drunk Elephant launched their first-ever retinol product, A-Passioni 1% Retinol. What sets this baby apart from all the retinol products I’ve tried before is that it’s vegan, making it gentler and less complex; the lack of synthetic and animal derivatives in the product reduces the chances of skin sensitivity and boast higher bioavailability, which all leads to long term efficacy. The metal tube its encased in protects the integrity of the product by limiting exposure to air and sunlight.

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Next up in #APassioni101: can I mix APassioni with any DE Product, like #TLCFramboos or #CFirma? A: You can mix #APassioni with any #DrunkElephant oil, moisturizer, or hydration serum — in fact, we encourage it! (Because you only need a tiny amount of A-Passioni, mixing makes it easier to spread all over your face without using too much.) But there are quite a few myths surrounding #retinol, and we’re here to show the holy grail ingredient some love. ❤️🥊🌹🚨 When it comes to #CFirma, not only has research shown retinol is 100% just as effective during the daytime, but it also helps ward off pollution and UV-generated free radical damage (benefits that are *boosted* when paired alongside a vitamin C serum). FYI: Retinol does not cause the same sensitivity to daylight—nor does it share the same instability in the presence of daylight—as retinoids, its more potent, prescription-only form (i.e. tretinoin), and there is *zero* research that says otherwise. As for using retinol with AHA/BHA exfoliants (like #TLCFramboos), using retinol in conjunction with the right kind of AHA/BHA exfoliant means *better* results on concerns like fine lines and sun damage—it actually resurfaces skin in a different way all together. ❤️🥊🌹🚨 Retinol helps trigger the development of new, healthy cells, but it works from the deeper levels up. Hydroxy acids work from the top-down, while retinol take a bottom-up approach, giving skin the tools it needs to produce healthy cells + the directive to do so. Retinol and prescription retinoids provide the same end-results—retinol just takes longer to get there (but is better tolerated by skin). That is a positive, as retinol is tolerated much better by skin in general than retinoids, a benefit that #APassioni builds on with the addition of ingredients that soothe while buffering retinol. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photo: @mandylikesbeingbroke

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The product itself is creamy and is easily absorbed into the skin. Considering the highly sensitised nature of my skin and the potent 1% retinol content, I was pleasantly surprised that my skin didn’t tingle or sting. I didn’t wake up with redness or peeling, and while I didn’t see an overnight change, my skin is visibly smoother, and my hyperpigmentation is significantly lighter after use for two weeks.

The product comes packaged with a miniature vial of B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Serum and Drunk Elephant recommends you cocktail A-Passioni 1% Retinol with any of their products — I highly recommend giving it a whirl with the brand’s Protini™ Polypeptide Cream for that extra glow in the morning. Protini itself is abundant with proteins and nutrients, helping your skin replenish and restore, bidding farewell to lines, wrinkles and sun damage.

Now where can I get a chamber to douse myself head-to-toe with A-Passioni and Protini?

Main image: Instagram (@drunkelephant)