Retinoids really work. A derivative of vitamin A, they help smooth out skin, wrinkles, and even banish pimples — at least when applied topically. But Instagram’s favorite juice company Dirty Lemon is hoping you might want to drink them too. The company recently launched its tenth beverage, a 15-calorie drinkable retinol called +retinol with one gram of sugar. Each bottle contains 100 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin A. The vitamin, which is actually a group of related compounds, can be broken up into two divisions: carotenoids which affects vision and retinols, which impact skin cells. Dirty Lemon’s vitamin A is derived from the latter and allegedly metabolizes in the body as retinoic acid.
As Fashionista.com explained, the reasoning behind the drink is not entirely suspect as Accutane is an ingestible form of retinoid acid. +retinol also gives you straight up vitamin A, albeit in a more gentle manner than a prescription-only medication. Ingesting it should in theory also allow you to bypass the “Retinol Uglies.” Ideally, you’d need to drink many of these beverages to see any sort of perceived results.
Here’s what five people thought of the beverage and most importantly, what it tasted like.
Erica Smith, beauty writer
I’ve only had one other Dirty Lemon drink, the collagen one, but wasn’t a fan because the taste toyed with my mind: It made me crave either a regular glass of water with a regular amount of lemon squeezed in it, or, straight up lemonade. Instead, I had a weird in-between beverage with an aftertaste. This Retinol one tastes like that, but with one of those artificially fruity electrolyte powder mixes stirred in. In other words, I wasn’t able to make it halfway through one bottle.
The mental image of drinking retinol probably makes it less palatable, too. I found it becomes easier to sip this if you remind yourself that you’re actually drinking vitamin A rather than a peely serum, since we already have a long history of drinking vitamins. I have no idea if this did anything for my skin because, again, I couldn’t finish one bottle, nor fathom drinking “one per day” as the website instructs to notice a difference. If I want to continue ingesting skin-care ingredients, I think I’m going to stick to those HUM Hyaluronic Acid gummies because those are delicious. Also, gummies mean less peeing, less acid on my teeth, and spending way less money for a month’s supply. Dirty Lemon’s bottles are pretty, though!
Jane Larkworthy, beauty editor-at-large
I’m not sure why the idea of drinking retinol weirds me out. I ingest collagen through gummies and charcoal through another drink made by this very brand. I like the drink’s citrusy Crystal Light–like taste, and the bottle is, no surprise, great-looking, but I have so many questions!
Since it’s retinol, should I drink it only at night, and if I do drink it in the morning, will my skin be more vulnerable to the sun the way topical retinols can? How many days or weeks or months, or bottles, must I imbibe before my fibroblasts kick in and create healthier collagen? And, speaking of collagen, why wouldn’t I just drink their collagen drink instead? Oh, I know why. That contains 13 more calories than this one does.
Diana Tsui, senior market editor
The science behind ingesting an edible retinol seems suspect so I approached the bottle with a critical eye. If we’re judging it by taste alone, I’m a fan. The drink contains pineapple juice, ginger, and lemon making for a slightly sweet but mostly tart (but not cloyingly so) drink that was super refreshing. I downed the entire contents after running around all morning and feeling especially dehydrated. Someone compared it to Gatorade and I had to agree — I could almost feel the liquid plumping up my cells, as illogical and improbable as it may be.
But as far as the claims that your body can convert this into a form of vitamin A to give similar, albeit gentler, effects of a topical retinoid? Maybe after repeated consumption, but one bottle won’t do it. Did my skin look any different? Sadly no, and I probably counteracted any health effects with a few cocktails later that evening. I’ll stick to my topical trentinoin applied nightly.
Daise Bedolla, social editor
I could not for the life of me figure out what this tasted like until I saw Kathleen describe it on her Instagram Story as “watered down lemon lime Gatorade,” and that’s exactly it. Having never been a fan of Gatorade to begin with, I can’t say that I was a fan.
Like with most skin care, consistency is key, drinking these bottles once a day for the best results requires a lot of commitment. Not to mention, at $45 for a case of six, you’re setting yourself back quite a bit. I’ll stick with a topical retinol (and skin peeling) any day.
Paolo de Varona, editorial assistant
I expected this to taste extremely bad because who in their right mind would drink “skin care”? But the first sip was surprising, it tasted like water with a few lemons or grapefruits thrown in it. It’s not my favorite taste, and I can’t imagine willingly having this every day as my drink of choice, but it’s tolerable.
Overall, I don’t know if this drink would actually do much for my skin and hormonal acne. (It kind of feels like buying into the “just drink water” Twitter rhetoric.) But made from an assortment of natural fruit juices, drinking this for a few weeks might leave you more hydrated and that can’t hurt your skin! The bottle is compact and has a cute design, so you’ll feel productive while you sip on it too.
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