Everybody who works in beauty and skincare and is obsessed with beauty and skincare (us!) has heard about retinol.
It’s on everybody’s radar, and quite rightly so. Retinol for skin has steadily risen in popularity over the years, so much so, that lots of brands have incorporated it into their lines, creating no-end of retinol creams, retinol serums, retinol oils and retinol gels.
If you’ve decided you need retinol in your life, they’ll be a product out there with your name on it. So…we’ve set the scene in relation to all the hype surrounding retinol, but what is it exactly?
What is retinol?
It’s the active form of Vitamin A in the body, and has been widely hailed as being a powerhouse of a product when it comes to tackling anti-ageing through skincare. Curious? You ought to be. Excited? Absolutely!
Even though it isn’t a hormone, Vitamin A acts like one. This means that as we start to age, our natural levels of Vitamin A start to dwindle. This drop in our natural Vitamin A levels is what then leads to lines, creases, and many of the other tell-tale signs of ageing that creep in.1
Is retinol good?
You bet it is! You see retinol works by speeding up the rate at which skin cells renew and repair. Some studies have even shown it can work its magic on a wide range of skin-related issues, ranging from fine lines and wrinkles, to pigmentation and blemishes.
As for how it does this, retinol works within the skin cells to help boost collagen production and reducing cell ageing and pore congestion. It’s also capable of regulating oil production and stabilising pigments.2 (For more on this read, ‘Is retinol good for skin?’)
Top 6 benefits of using a retinol creams and serums
We’ve already touched on some of the main benefits above, but here’s a recap. It can:3
- Help smooth skin and improve uneven skin tone.
- Visibly reduce the appearance of ageing.
- Increase the rate of cell turnover.
- Aid the collagen and elastin production process.
- Help reduce pigmentation.
- Help with blemishes.
How often should you use retinol serum?
Now pay attention, because you can’t just slather on your retinol cream or serum every day and away you go. Applying retinol takes a little organisation and patience because you need to give your skin chance to get used to it.
You may find that within the first few days of using retinol, your skin becomes a bit irritated and dry. You want to avoid your skin over-reacting with retinol, so start small and build up.
Use a pea-sized amount (that’s all you need) of low percentage retinol and only apply it twice a week. Once you skin’s in the swing with the twice-a-week thing, then gradually increase the frequency, so that, eventually, you’re applying it every day.
In the meantime, listen to your skin, and look out for any signs that may indicate it’s not tolerating the retinol very well.4
- Tip 1: Wait at least 30 minutes before applying any other skincare products on top of retinol.
- Tip 2: Don’t put retinol anywhere near the eye area.
- Tip 3: Apply it at night as part of your evening skincare routine.
- Tip 4: Always use an SPF, as retinol can potentially make the skin thinner and therefore more sensitive and prone to skin damage.
- Tip 5: Don’t use AHA or BHA exfoliators, as they essentially do what retinol does, and doubling up can potentially aggravate and overstimulate skin cells.5
What is good retinol serum?
This probably comes as no big surprise, but there are lots of good retinol serums out there, as well as lots of good retinol creams, retinol oils and retinol gels too.
However, what works fabulously for your friend, may not work as well for you. Everybody’s skin is different, so if you’re planning on incorporating retinol into your skincare regime, it’s important you take the time to explore those options and find a retinol that’s right for you.
In the meantime, we’ve created a shortlist of some of the best retinol serums, as used, and reviewed, by our customers:
Customer rating: 5 stars
Suitable for vegans, this 98% natural rejuvenating face mask is packed with retinol and carrot seed oil and contains high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin E.
How to apply: Use on clean skin and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
SM20 says: “Nice face mask. Starts to warm up slightly when you apply on your face. Felt nice. Really liked this product and the fact it contains natural ingredients. Nice packaging too.”
Customer rating: 4.5 stars
Vitaskin Vitamin A Rejuvenating Night Cream combines retinol and carrot seed oil, as well as high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin E to help brighten and even skin tone, as well as reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 98% natural and 100% vegan friendly.
How to apply it: Apply as the final step in your skincare routine. For best results, combine with the full VitaSkin Vitamin A Range.
Pri23 says: “I’ve used this for about a week, and could really see the changes. and felt it has settled the redness and looks a lot reduced. It’s such a lovely texture and sinks well into your skin, not leaving the skin greasy at night like most night creams do! The smell is divine and feels so luxurious.”
Customer rating: 4.4 stars
Suitable for vegans, this powerful and rejuvenating serum is packed with retinol and carrot seed oil, containing high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin E to help promote softer, smoother and visibly younger-looking skin.
How to apply: Apply after cleansing as part of your night-time skincare routine and prior to moisturising.
Anonymous says: “Absolutely love this product. Results are brighter, clearer and tighter skin. On my third bottle!”
Customer rating: 4.4 stars
Egyptian Gold Retinol Serum, which is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, helps stimulate the production of new skin cells, leaving skin looking super youthful with an amazing shining glow.
How to apply: Drip a little bit of the serum on to your face and neck. Massage all over, making sure to rub the serum into your skin.
Tab H says: “Love, love, love this product, it’s a little bit of heaven in a bottle! My skin feels amazing! I have pigmentation on my face, this product has helped to reduce the colour, forehead lines are less visible, and over all texture of my skin is smooth and soft!”
An anti-ageing oil serum for mature skin that helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. Developed using a gentle yet potent mix of ingredients, this deeply hydrating oil helps improve the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, leaving the complexion visibly younger-looking, smoother and brighter, while being gentle to skin.
How to apply it: At night, warm 4 to 5 drops in the palm of your hand and apply by gently patting over the face, neck and décolleté. Follow with night cream.
Oleus Retinoid Serum is a 100% vegan and natural lightweight serum that’s known for aiding collagen production to encourage a youthful-looking complexion.
How to apply it: Massage 2 to 3 drops on to cleansed skin on face, neck and/or body. Can be combined with the Oleus Moisturiser.
A breakthrough anti-ageing cream that delivers retinol results while enhancing skin vitality and radiance. Deeply nourishing and hydrating, it reduces the appearance of fine line and wrinkles. Over time, skin looks plumper, lifted and the texture is refined and smoothed. Suitable for all skin types.
How to apply it: Use twice a day. Warm a generous amount in the palms of the hands and gently massage on clean skin (neck and face) until absorbed. At night, use after Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Concentrate for optimal results.
Feel as though you know you know your way around the world of retinol now? It’s a whole new world in itself, but it’s an exciting world that can potentially help your skin in so many ways. Retinol creams, retinol serums, retinol oils and retinol gels, which one are you going to try first?…
Need some information before you try out retinol? Still got some niggles about it? We hear you, that’s why we’ve written this article, ‘Is retinol safe?’ which tackles one of the main questions lots of people have about retinol.
Last updated: 23 December 2020