Lets talk Retinol…

May 1, 2017

Retinol is a proven anti-ageing ingredient. Retinol ie Vitamin A is already found in the body. As we get older, free radicals also found in our bodies, float around causing havoc. Enivormentle aggressors such as sun and pollution along with stress and many aspects of our modern lives, create more free radicals. These little bummer cars of trouble help damage our organs and visibly age our skin, little buggers!

Antioxidant are our heroes, they help to get rid of the free radicals, Vitamin A being one of them. It helps skin to repair, hydrate, and produce the enzymes that stabilise the production of collagen. It has therefore been added to skincare products to help do that and is often referred to as stabilised Retinol.

Retinol works by increasing your cell turnover and removing dead skin cells. It stimulates collagen, which gives your skin that firm plumpness as well as smooth out fine lines, and correct pigmentation. As well as being a great blemish and acne treatment.

I don’t want to get into to much technical details but it is important to know some guidelines when using Retinol. I think this is where things can get complicated and almost makes you want to avoid using this amazing ingredient altogether.

Retin- the topical form of Retinoic acid

  • A synthetic derivative of vitamin A
  • Prescription only
  • Acne treatment
  • Isotretinoin – oral treatment
  • Tretionoin – tropical treatment
  • Within one month you will begin to notice improvement in the appearance and smoothness of your skin.
  • Not for long term use. Resources say, normally three months for maximum benefits


  • Natural form of vitamin A
  • Formed in the body by the hydrolysis of Retinyl esters
  • It must first be converted by enzymes into Retinoic Acid
  • Found in over the counter and on the shelves, vitamin A products
  • Can easily be added to skincare rotuine
  • For long term use
  • Takes longer to see results (its worth noting here that skin can get worse before you see improvement as it will bring any under the surface spots to a head. Although I noticed an improvement in skin evenness and brightness in a month.)

I see Retinol as a long term ingredient I will always incorporate into my skincare routine. Not only as a corrector but a preventor too. SPF and Retinol are the best proven anti ageing prevention’s out there.

Retinol is used in different percentages. Most commonly ranging from 0.1 percent to 1 percent. It’s important to follow the guidelines from products manufacturers. Normally this is, to start on a low percent Retinol, 3 times a week, increasing to every other night, then every night after two weeks of use, then progressing up the percentages. This is because of skin sensitivity. Stinging and peel are common side effects. There are ways in which these can be reduced and not everyone experiences them. These side effects are what made me want to write this post.

If you have got this far in the post then you will probably realise that this is a complicated ingredient. As I found out the hard way, if you don’t have any background knowledge on Retinol, you could experience some sore red skin which is very frustrating if you have spent your hard earned money on it.

Here are some of the Retinol products I have used and would recommend for oily, combination and dry skin types.  For you sensitive skin types I would recommend reading this great article first, here.

Medik8 ‘Retinol 3 TR professional strength serum’. Comes in 0.3, 0.6 and 1 percent bottles link to there website and 0.3 percent serum is here


Medik8 £22.95 from BueatyFlash

I actually did get mine from www.beautyflash.co.uk as they were cheaper. This is the first Retinol product I used and had no stinging, peeling or red skin while I used this. I found the 0.6% to give better results and only had mild stinging when I first used it too. I always recommend this brand and product to friends.

When DECIEM brought out their, ‘The Ordinary’, skincare line I was quick to check out what was one offer. I have used one of there other skincare lines before and really liked them. This line is incredibly affordable prices ranging from£5 – £12 for 30ml bottles of serum.

One of products I bought was there 1% Retinol cream

This was £5.20 from victoriahealth.com now in hindsight I wish I had gone direct to the Deciem website to buy this as they give you all the information you need and as I was still only learning about Retinols. I really should have read up first. Why? because although I’d use Retinol this stuff was strong and made my skin sting, peel and very oversensitive. Every product I used after this stung and made my skin red and sore…ouch! I also personally didn’t like that this product had silicone in it, not a fan. That doesn’t make this a bad product it just didn’t suit my skins needs. Their website states…

” This water-free formulation contains 1% pure Retinol, an ingredient that can reduce the appearances of fine lines, of photo damage and of general skin ageing. While Retinol has been studied extensively, it is irritating to the skin and newer technologies exist that mimic the visible effects of Retinol without causing skin irritation. For this reason, we generally recommend using Advanced Retinoid 2% instead of this formulation. “

If I had known what I know now about using Retinol, I would have bought this ‘Advanced Retinoid 2%‘ £8.00 formula first. This product gives no sting, redness or peeling…yay! This is what am currently using.


Another Retinol product I like is Alpha H 0.5% vitamin A serum. I actually purchased the ‘Alpha H Vitamin Booster Profiling Set’ and boy do I love it. If your just getting into skincare, or you want to add some great vitamin based serums to your routine then look no further than this. It’s £49,99 for four 25ml bottles of Vitamin A, B, C and E I won’t go into detail here but honestly it’s really worth the money. You have everything you need here to add to your cleansing and toning to have a great basic skincare routine.

Alpha H ‘ Vitamin A 0.5% with Evening  Primrose’ serum, sinks into your sink really quickly and leaves no residue or stickyness. It’s another great starting point if your new to Retinol products. You can also add this to your moisturiser or facial oil if you find it is a little too strong to begin with. I however had no sting or peel with this at all.

I’ve not really seen many Retinol in the drugstore chains Boots and Superdrug apart from ‘Indeed Labs Retinol Reface‘ £19.99. I bought this product a long time ago, before I had done any research on Retinol. I didn’t really see any results and prefer a serum or oil based Retinol but I do know that many many people love this. If your a cream/lotion fan i’d check this out.


Well I know this has been a long post, but I want to try and give you enough information to confidently try a Retinol as it really does give results. I am going to finish off with a couple of tips to try if you do experience stinging and/or peeling as these are common and will stop. Stinging is normal burning is not!

  1. Apply your Retinol to completely dry skin. Skin absorbs product deeper if it wet.
  2. Mix your Retinol product with a bit of face lotion, oil, hydrating serum or cream to dilute it.

Finally, only apply your Retinol at night and always use an SPF you don’t want to ruin your hard work, happy anti-aging…Cheers!


*Retin – A and Retinol  shouldn’t be used if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding please always check the label and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

** As a reference my skin is oily to combination, dehydrated with hormonal breakouts…joy!


Leave a Reply

1 comment

  1. Thank you! Great article, really informative and saved me going out to buy retinol reface from Boots or wherever. You gave me all the info I needed although my case is different – – 61 with lines! – however! Excuse me for saying this, but if you want me to proofread your posts first, I would. Mistakes all over the shop! Never mind, it’s not important. Thanks again.