Review of Afirm 3x Budget Retinol

It’s not that often you find a retinol cream for under $50. To find a retinol product at that price that many people say actually works is even less likely.

Afirm made by TX Systems is not a new brand – in fact it was probably one of the first and still one of the few to specialize in retinol formulations.

Afirm 3X is one of three creams carrying retinol in different strengths.  The idea is you select which strength you want based on how sensitive your skin is and whether you’ve used a retinol cream before.

Nothing different there you may say – there are several skin care lines that do the same but TX Systems was something of a pioneer when they started doing this back in the day.

It was a practice developed from dermatologists offices where patients were started with lower levels of the vitamin A derivatives in skin care to avoid sensitivity reactions. Now in 2012 – many good skin care brands offer starter level retinol products.

Three strengths of retinol

Afirm 3X is the strongest with 0.6% retinol – use this if you don’t have a particularly sensitve skin or you have used a retinol cream at a lower strength

Afirm 2X has 0.3% retinol and is for normal, fairly tolerant skins or if you’re already used to using a lower strength retinol product.

Afirm 1X is the weakest of the three creams with only 0.15% retinol – if you have a sensitive skin or you’re not used to a retinol product then this is the level recommended. This cream is also best for sensitive areas of the face like the eye area.

The two things that matter with any retinol cream are – how much retinol is in it and is the delivery system good enough to get the retinol into your skin without causing irritation and inflammation.

There are many loyal users of the Afirm products on skin care sites and Amazon.

This review is typical of many long term fans: “I have used Afirm for over 20 years -I love what it has done for my skin and continues to do for years now. My skin is firm, shows little sun damage, and at 57, I have almost no noticable fine lines around my eyes or mouth areas. Even my dermatologist commented on how good my skin looks!”

TX systems – unlike many manufacturers – clearly state the level of retinol in their products. They also claim that their creams have a unique delivery system using microencapsulation to carry a high concentration of retinol and yet be exceptionally gentle on your skin.

Highest level of retinol OTC?

TX Systems also used to say that their products have the highest level of retinol in any over the counter retinol product.

If you see this anywhere – take it with a pinch of salt – many makers claim to have the strongest retinol products available without visiting a skin doctor.

The truth is the market is changing all the time and now both Green Cream and SkinCeuticals have higher levels in their strongest products and Dr Brandt has just (2012) released a new product Dr Brandt Glow with a 2% retinol formulation.

How to use Afirm 3X

The recommendation is to apply Afirm 3X to a clean face in the evening. If you use it in the daytime as well you definitely need a good sunscreen and you may also need a moisturizer – both of which can be applied on top.

Also you should be careful what you use with a retinol cream like Afirm.  Any product containing AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) should not be used at the same time as you apply the cream. Some people do and get no problems but if you have sensitive skin watch out.

Best advice would be – if you’ve never used a retinol product before or have sensitive skin – to start with Afirm 2X  and use on alternative days to start with to gradually build up tolerance. No matter how good the makers say the cream is – retinol can irritate skin.

Where to buy

The reviews that I have seen of all the Afirm products – especially the high strength 3X – are very positive. And the great news is that all three sell at under $50 – the highest strength is the most expensive.

Lower strengths are generally less well-reviewed – some people finding they do little or nothing for their skin.

Don’t expect discounts – TK Systems have ring-fenced the product price so Amazon sells it for the same as SkinStore or anywhere else. Even without discounts it still falls into the budget category and worth trying as a first step into using retinol.