Woman staring in mirror after using retinol skincare products

Those in the beauty biz (think dermatologists, editors, vloggers) have been raving about retinol for years. Scratch that, decades! But let’s be honest, sometimes all the jargon can be a little bit over our heads. We’ve sorted through the facts and the stats and have translated all the industry lingo so that your skincare regime can start reaping the benefits of this wonder ingredient. You can thank us later!    

Woman staring in mirror after using retinol skincare products

It may hide behind a scary, science-y name but to put it simply, retinol is a form of Vitamin A. Not so scary now, right? Retinol is an ingredient that is used in skincare products (serums, creams) because of its super power ability to speed up skin cell renewal and enhance collagen production.

Why use Retinol?

So you’ve heard the hype and want to know why beauty bloggers, facialists and your bff’s-cousins-stepsister swears by it?

Well, it’s an anti-ageing hero that can significantly improve the appearance of fine lines, sun damage, dark spots and wrinkles. Not only is it said to reverse the signs of ageing after daily use, but it can also act as a preventive measure too.

Studies have shown that using an over-the-counter product with 0.1% retinol (for prolonged, regular use) showed significant improvement to wrinkles, with visible results as early as one month.

How does it Work? 

Here comes the science lesson. When retinol is applied to the skin it is absorbed, broken down and transformed into retinoic acid. This compound can then impact cell structure (stimulate collagen/cell renewal process).

This conversion process doesn’t happen immediately when you use a skincare product containing retinol, it can sometimes take several applications before it then changes into retinoic acid. For faster, more immediate results you can turn to retinoids, but these are only available on a prescription basis.

Where Can I Find Retinol Products? 

There are many serums and creams that are available to buy in-store and online that feature this wonder ingredient. To figure out which skincare product features retinol always check the labels.  

L'Oreal Paris L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream 50ml £6.09 Buy Now
La Roche-Posay La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream 30ml £29.49 Buy Now
L'Oreal Paris L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Day Cream SPF30 50ml £6.35 Buy Now
La Roche-Posay La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream15ml £25.49 Buy Now

OK, so what’s the catch?

Retinol may seem like it ticks every one of your boxes but it does come with fair warning. As retinol is quite a potent ingredient, when overused it could cause dryness and irritation. It can also potentially increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight, so always finish your routine with an SPF-packed product to counteract this.

And if you have sensitive skin, approach the ingredient with caution. Skincare products can vary between 0.1% retinol up to 1%, so always check the label before use and seek advice if you’re a retinol newbie.

The best way to introduce retinol into your skincare regime is to start with a low concentration until you build up your tolerance bit-by-bit. If you experience any redness or peeling from a higher dose then limit your retinol usage or lower the concentration.

Not sure whether retinol is for you? Try these alternative anti-ageing formulas:

Packed with active ingredients (such as Matrixyl Synthe6®) these products have been formulated to mimic the anti-ageing effects retinol has on the skin.  

Avene Avene TriAcneal EXPERT £22.99 Buy Now
B. B. Nourished Advanced Serum 30ml £7.19 Buy Now
B. B. Nourished Night Cream 50ml £6.19 Buy Now
Avene Avène Physiolift Eyes 15ml £21.99 Buy Now

Now you’ve got retinol down, here’s everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid…