Non-Irritating Retinoid with the Potency of Retin-A: Retextra in Uth Radiance Serum

I received a sample of Uth Radiance Serum in exchange for my review; my opinions are my own, and no additional compensation was provided. 

Recently, I have become very interested in finding retinoids that my inflammation-prone skin can tolerate. I have tried Retin-A (all-trans retinoic acid) for various lengths of time and at various stages of my life, but my skin has never overcome a red, angry inflammatory response to it, never mind demonstrated any of the lauded benefits of this “must-try” anti-aging ingredient. If I were not always reading about the virtues of Retin-A, I would have simply given up on it long ago. Retinol derivatives are easier to take, but they tend to have less striking anti-aging effects than retinoic acid itself. Then again, the irritation retinoic acid causes me (and many others) seems to counteract its benefits. Indeed, Retin-A is thought to disrupt the skin barrier, activating the inflammatory response. Inflammatory processes, when chronic, will age the skin.

I had almost given up on retinoic acid and its derivatives altogether when I came across a molecule called MDI 403 (also known as Retextra) while researching non-irritating retinoids. I got in touch with the company that manufactures Retextra, Molecular Design International (MDI), and received a reply from CEO, inventor, and scientist Dr. William Purcell. Dr. Purcell generously shared his time and insights. He explained that the scaffold of MDI 403/Retextra is a powerful retinoid and that a proprietary molecular modification transforms it from an acid to an ester, making Retextra as effective as retinoic acid without the problems. In fact, Retextra is a second-generation retinoid that has been clinically proven during its development to have anti-aging and skin-clearing properties equivalent to Retin-A without all the potential for skin irritation and other adverse outcomes (W. Purcell, personal communication, November 5, 2016). Retextra is a powerful retinoid derivative that is not teratogenic, not carcinogenic, and not mutagenic, meaning it is the safest retinoid derivative on the market as well as being as effective as Retin-A and much more effective than retinol (W. Purcell, personal communication, November 5, 2016). When I discovered this, I wanted to dig a little deeper and possibly put Retextra up against a tough test: my inflammation-prone, sensitive skin.

Where can a person find this miraculous anti-aging ingredient? As of now, there are two anti-aging products that feature MDI 403. One is Dr. Purcell’s original Uth Radiance Serum for $50 per 1.7 ounces (less if you subscribe); the other option, RetinUltimate Transforming Gel, the same product sold at Harrod’s under the line Youth Corridor by Dr. Gerard Imber ($450 for 1.7 oz). Those are the two current options for trying Retextra. For me, this is an obvious choice, as well as a striking example of how the beauty industry sells prestige. I am grateful to Dr. Purcell for making his serum attainable rather than following the trend of outrageous skin care markups. Still, I understand the lure of prestige branding, so for the curious, you can read a brief review of Youth Corridor Transforming Gel, on the blog In Haute Pursuit, here.   

Back to Uth Radiance Serum, I am someone with very sensitive skin, so I was eager to try the product and to see if the non-irritating claims would hold true even for me. To be honest, I was prepared for at least a hint of irritation, but I experienced none: no stinging or burning upon application, nor any emerging redness on my face in the days following application. Ready to put it to the ultimate test (don’t try this at home), I even applied Uth Radiance Serum with my JeNu Ultrasonic Infuser to boost absorption and see if that would leave me red, and still no irritation! This was (and is) remarkable.

In terms of anti-aging results, with short-term usage of Uth Radiance Serum, I saw improvements in my skin texture and a lessening of lines. This is not surprising because, in Uth Radiance Serum’s evaluation at AMA Laboratories, 80% of users reported smoother wrinkles in just one day. With ongoing use, my skin has become increasingly soft and smooth. Uth Radiance Serum itself has a silky, moisturizing, gel-like base that is free of alcohol, water, and preservatives. The serum spreads easily. I would call it suitable for any skin types, but perhaps best for normal to dry skin, because it leaves skin with a satiny hydration. Based on my experience, Uth Radiance Serum really does deliver the lauded benefits of retinoic acid in a silky, moisturizing, gel-like base without irritating sensitive skin.

Bottom Line: I turn red even thinking about Retin-A; in contrast, Uth Radiance Serum delivers silky skin-smoothing results without the slightest trace of irritation. Highly recommended.


Purcell, W. (2016, November 5th). Email and phone interviews.

Special thanks to Dr. Purcell for his time, assistance, and for letting me sample Uth Radiance Serum.

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