Dirty Lemon is a genius wellness beverage that hit the market and now has investors like Coca Cola onboard.

And now, the brand’s launched its +retinol line, aimed towards those who want beautiful, dewy skin from the inside out.

SEE ALSO: Water – yes water! – can lead to breakouts! 

If you’re not so aware of the brand, it’s one all about ingestible wellness. Like Moon Juice, it’s sold as beverages and are ingested in the name of health. Dirty Lemon made it big not only because of its striking package, but because it capitalized on America’s “detox” obsession, one that stemmed from those juices you’d have to drink for a week (the latter in which I’ve tried, really, truly, totally sucks). Its founder, Zak Normandin agrees, which is why he create a product that tasted better and didn’t have to deprive you of enjoying life.

And so Dirty Lemon was born as a way to help the body naturally detox, with the brand launching with a product that included dandelion root for liver function, lemon juice for alkalizing and a cleanser for your system and activated charcoal. Since, it’s launched an aloe version (which came out last Friday!), charcoal, white rose, ginseng, and of course, +retinol.

I was so intrigued when +retinol was sent to my door. For one, I had never tried Dirty Lemon before and had simply seen it on the Instagram pages of a few of my beauty editor friends. Ever 0ne to be a skeptic, I didn’t think that this drink could actually do anything for my skin. Like, drinking retinol? Is that safe? Is that effective? Is this a marketing ploy?

For that, I turned to Dr. Y. Claire Chang, from the Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. She clarified that retinol is essentially Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in our bodies and skin. Vitamins comes in multiple forms, including retinol and retinyl esters, as well as provitamin A carotenoids, she tells us. Most of our Vitamin A is obtained through diet, whether in animal products like meat, fish, dairy or plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. Essentially, it’s a vitamin that’s found in essentially everything we eat because of how vital it is to our bodies.

“It’s important to our health, helping to maintain good vision, immune function, healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue and skin,” she tells Very Good Light. 

(Photo courtesy Dirty Lemon)

When topically applied, we know vitamin A as a retinol and retinoic acid is effective at promoting skin renewal, decreasing brown spots, increasing collagen production, literally proving that G-L-O-W. As an oral treatment, Vitamin A is found in something called isotretinoin (aka Accutane) and effective for treating acne.

But what about drinking this? I had to ask Dr. Chang if this was even safe?

Because Vitamin A is natural, drinking retinol is safe, she tells us. The bottle of Dirty Lemon’s +retinol contains a full day’s dose of Vitamin A along with other antioxidants to “support more youthful looking skin” and “stimulate collagen production.” While in theory, it does all of that, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support these claims, she says.

“First off, vitamin A deficiency is actually not very common,” she tells us. “According to the National Institutes of Health, most people in the U.S. get enough vitamin A just from the foods they eat and Vitamin A deficiency is rare.” Secondly, she says, the research doesn’t suggest that Vitamin A as an ingestible product is super effective for your skin. The findings have been conflicting and all over the place. In one randomized controlled trial, using oral isotretinoin at low doses was not effective for photoaging while another study found it to be helpful to a minority of patients. In another smaller study of only 22 subjects, some found ingesting isotretinoin to be effective in collagen production but wasn’t better than actually topically applying it.

(Photo courtesy Dirty Lemon)

AKA the jury’s still out if ingestible retinol does anything for you.

Which I can agree to. While I personally loved drinking Dirty Lemon for the week – its flavor profile is sour from the lemon, a bit tart and fruity thanks to pineapple juice, ginger and hibiscus, I’m not certain it did anything at all for my skin. I drank one a day and didn’t necessarily find that my skin was plumper or my complexion more glowy. What I did find was that I was being conscious over my own hydration, which is always a good thing.

Is Dirty Lemon delicious? I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s like a delicious organic lemon spritz, but I will say that yes, it is enjoyable. Does it do anything for you? Well, if Dr. Chang’s findings tell us anything, it could for some but doesn’t for others.

While we definitely would drink this every day, Dr. Chang also gave us a word of warning: “Excessive vitamin A intake can be harmful to patients,” she said. “It can cause common symptoms, including dry
skin, hair loss, dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma, and even death. High intakes in pregnant women can cause serious birth defects in the babies.” Like any other beauty treatment, take this as caution – do your due diligence with your research before drinking this yourself.

BUY Dirty Lemon +retinol, $65 (6 bottles), here.