(Trial Run)

111Skin's Retinol Patches Helped Me Maintain My Botox Results

My sensitive skin even tolerated them.

Parizaad Khan Sethi
111skin wrinkle erasing retinol patches review
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In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, beauty writer Parizaad Khan Sethi is testing 111Skin’s Wrinkle Erasing Retinol Patches.

I waited for as long as possible to start getting Botox in my forehead and in my 11s (the area between the brows). But when the furrows between my brows started to look like they were etched in even when my face was at rest, I knew it was time to add the neurotoxin into my reoccurring schedule of beauty appointments. As soon as I got ‘tox, I regretted holding off for so long in fear of unnatural results. I was so artfully injected by New York dermatologist Dr. Claire Wolinsky that I retained most of the animation in my face, but managed to get rid of the furrows. I enjoyed the results so much, I never missed my maintenance appointment.

Sadly, I had to stop a year later as I needed to figure out the cause of a series of debilitating headaches. When that mystery was finally sorted out (hello, reading glasses), I noticed that my furrows had somehow improved and I didn’t really feel the need for more injectables, at least for a while. Maybe it was all that squinting while reading.

Since I was super invested in staying on top of whatever progress I had made, the 111Skin Wrinkle Erasing Retinol Patches hit virtual beauty shelves at the right time. I’ve only had a very short run with them, but I would consider incorporating them into my regular rotation of at-home treatments. Ahead, my honest thoughts on the wrinkle-smoothing patches.

Fast Facts

  • Price: $70 for one set, $190 for three
  • Size: One set of five patches
  • Clean/Cruelty-Free: Yes
  • Best For: Spot-treating wrinkles and for sensitive skin
  • Ingredient Highlights: retinol, ascorbyl glucoside (a Vitamin C derivative and antioxidant), sodium hyaluronate, and the peptide acetyl octapeptide-3
  • What We Like: Super targeted application; shows a temporary plumping effect in addition to long-term benefits
  • What We Don’t Like: Pricey; inability to pick the patches you most want for your specific problem area
  • Rating: 4/5
How TZR Keeps Score: 1/5: Making a return; 2/5: Keeping as a backup; 3/5: Finishing to the last drop; 4/5: Recommending to my group texts; 5/5: Already on auto-replenish

The Formula

Each set includes five patches that are meant to be fixed to specific locations on the face where wrinkles typically form. There’s one trapezoid-shaped patch for the glabella (the area between the eyebrows), two strips for the forehead, and a couple of crescent-shaped pieces that can either be used on crow’s feet or nasolabial folds. Each patch, depending on its size, is loaded with 80 to 160 micro-darts that physically puncture the skin at 0.35mm and dissolve there. The darts, or cones, are where the active ingredients reside. It’s the same concept as zit stickers with micro-darts, only elevated.

The patches are modeled after the brand’s cult-favorite Black Diamond Retinol Oil, in that they both contain a blend of 2.5% retinol and granactive retinoid. The latter is a gentler, less-irritating retinol alternative that’s more stable in the presence of light and air. They’re also loaded with hyaluronic acid as well as ascorbyl glucoside, which is a vitamin C derivative and an antioxidant that helps brighten skin tone and jumpstart collagen production. There’s also acetyl octapeptide-3, a peptide complex that helps with signs of aging that are caused by repetitive muscle movements. The brand refers to the patches as a needle-free fix, claiming it extends the life of injectables, or replaces them.

A close-up of the patches’ micro-darts. Courtesy of 111Skin

My Typical Nighttime Skin Care Routine

My bedtime routine is simple — out of compulsion, not laziness. I have super sensitive skin, and actives that really pull their weight in the anti-aging arena, like vitamin C or retinol, sensitize me greatly. As much as I’d like to dabble in retinol, or even better, its prescription-strength cousin tretinoin, that doesn’t seem likely in my near future. Instead, I use a mild exfoliant every night, which is sandwiched between a hydrating essence, and a moisturizer topped off with an oil.

My Experience & Results

The first time I used the patches, I put them on in the evening as opposed to before bed, because I wanted to be fully functional to observe how they felt. The method was super easy; I just had to un-peel the adhesive stickers and pat them onto my forehead after cleansing and drying my face. They’re transparent once affixed, and sort of blend into the scenery of your face. I used the trapezoid-shaped piece on my 11s, and the longer strip on my forehead, which is where they’re both meant to go. The adhesive is strong and they attached securely; I didn’t feel like they would fall off overnight. I finished the rest of my routine as per usual, making sure my skin care products didn’t touch the patches.

A half-hour later, the covered areas started feeling…spicy. It was a tingling, slight burning sensation and though it was distracting and unpleasant, it wasn’t unbearable. I did have a baby moment and considered ripping them off, but I persevered. The sensation lasted for an hour and a half, and then subsided. Since the patches are transparent, I could see there was no redness on my skin.

The next morning when I peeled them off, I was unaware that facial waxing would be a side benefit, because they took all my eyebrow peach fuzz along with them (ouch). But my forehead looked genuinely plumper, more hydrated, and my skin tone seemed clearer. They definitely didn’t erase any lines that were formed by subsequent movement in my face, but at rest, I looked calm and not furrowed.

Putting the patches to the test. Courtesy of Parizaad Khan Sethi

I used them again at bedtime a few nights later (the instructions actually say to use them only once a week, but I didn’t see that particular instruction, oops). Despite my double dosing, this experience was even more comfortable. I didn’t have any trapezoids left, so I used one of the crescent patches off-label on my glabella, since I didn’t need much help around my crow’s feet or nasolabial folds. I do feel it would be helpful if consumers had a choice in which patches they could buy. It looked a little clumsy but worked fine. This time around, I didn’t notice any burn, as I fell asleep within an hour of putting them on. The next morning, I woke up similarly renewed.

The best part of the patches for a sensitive-skinned individual like myself is that they constrained the retinol-loaded juice to only the area it was meant for, which is challenging with conventional products. Even if I carefully spot-apply a retinol cream or lotion only where I need it (which I have done in the past) it migrates to other areas and causes irritation.

Are 111Skin’s Wrinkle Erasing Retinol Patches Worth It?

There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that these patches are expensive for a single-use product. Sticker shock is the main factor holding me back from incorporating them into my weekly routine. They would be great before an event if lines in a particular area of your face are a concern. Keep in mind that like all retinol products, frequent use is the key to actual results. In my case, the one-time plumping effect was quite satisfactory, but I’m not kidding myself into thinking that infrequent use will make a sustainable or real difference in skin quality. In general, I also wish the packaging for micro-dart sticker products like these could be designed to be less wasteful, as they all come in plastic trays that are then placed in sealed foil envelopes, which is a lot of packaging for one time use.

All in all, I was impressed by the plumping effect of these patches. They’re not an alternative to neuromodulators — nothing topical rarely is — but regular use can help you stave off getting injectables if you have no visible lines, or help you maintain the results of your ‘tox and extend time between appointments.