An obsession with skincare, makeup and all things beauty. Honest reviews and opinions.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Retinol - Skincare Wonder Ingredient!

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What is Retinol? Retinol aka Vitamin A is probably the most talked about ingredient in skincare and for good reason! It's the gold standard when it comes to anti-aging. But did you know that Retinol was originally designed to be an acne treatment? It's anti-aging properties are a bonus side effect! So what makes it so special? Retinol helps skin cells turn over quicker, meaning you get newer, younger cells coming through. This is what makes it a brilliant ingredient for both anti-aging and acne! More cell turn over means less blocked pores, which should mean less spots!

Vitamin A comes in many forms - some more effective than others. Retinol is a very effective form as it is instantly absorbed by your skin and converted into Retinoid Acid. Other forms, eg. Retinyl Palmitate have to be converted first to Retinol, then to Retinoid Acid. The more steps, the longer it takes to work. High strength doesn't always equate to it being the best though, as Caroline Hirons always says - formula is king (or queen). For some people, the lower strength formula's or Retinol derivatives work better - slow and steady wins the race! Not all skins react well to the higher strengths either. It's always important to introduce Retinol into your routine slowly. Start with a lower % product and try it once / twice a week. Then build up the frequency and strength only if you don't have any sensitivity. Due to the possibility of sensitivity when using Retinol, it's essential to wear SPF 30 or above every day to protect the skin. You should really be wearing it daily, regardless of Retinol use. If you don't you not only risk undoing all the results from the Retinol but more serious things like skin cancer too. Remember the sun is the biggest cause of aging! Traditionally Retinol is used at night as it is photosensitive and can break down in daylight, however this is now not always the case. There are now certain types of Retinol (eg. microencapsulated Retinol) that are ok to use in the day.

Peeling is common when using Retinol whilst your skin is adjusting, this can be a sign the product is too strong or you're using it too frequently. Purging is also another common side effect. Your skin has a cycle - it takes a certain amount of time for cells to come to the surface. Spots can start under the skin and work their way up with the skin cycle. So when you first start using Retinol, you may break out - this is purging. It's actually spots that were already there, just coming to the surface quicker! After a few weeks, this should stop - if it doesn't it could be that you don't agree with the product. It's important to listen to your skin, as with any new skincare product.

Now we know a bit about what Retinol does, lets go over some of my favourite products that contain it!

I'll start with my newest Vitamin AA produc which is Pixi Retinol Tonic*  (£18 for 250ml or £10 for 100ml as pictured - product bought myself but I've had other PR from the brand). This is essentially a toner and is designed to be applied to skin after cleansing. It contains time-release Retinol and Peptides for anti-aging and Jasmine Flower to soothe skin. It also contains antioxidants. I've found this to be lovely and hydrating. I've been using this both AM and PM - it's worked well both ways. Is it strong? I'd say no but remember strong doesn't always mean best! I've been using this almost as a Retinol top up - for example I've used Retinol Tonic in the AM then another lower Retinol strength product in the PM. It's a great way to get a bit of extra Retinol in without overdoing it! This would also be a perfect starter Retinol and it's great value too. I'll certainly be re-purchasing it.

Wow You Beauty Woke Up Like This Night Cream (£18 for 50ml - product bought myself but I've had other PR from the brand). Now you all know how much I love British brand Wow You Beauty (if you don't read my blog post HERE). This cream is no exception. This contains Retinyl Palmitate which is a Retinoid. This is a more gentle form of Retinol so is great for sensitive skins. Other ingredients include Rosehip, Avocado and Argan oil, shea butter and green tea. All these work together to gently exfoliate skin whilst keeping it hydrated. As it's name suggests, you wake up with wonderful glowing skin! Wow You are also cruelty free, Paraben and SLS free and use natural ingredients. Again this is a perfect starter Retinol or one to use alongside another lower strength one.

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface* (£19.99 for 30ml - PR / gifted product). I've previously reviewed this product - blog post linked HERE but I'll give a quick re-cap. This serum contains Retinol and is outstanding value for money for how it performs. I'd say this is a mid-strength retinol - I certainly saw a difference in my skin very quickly with using it but with no irritation.

A.Florence Skincare Intense Night Repair Oil (£36 for 20ml - product bought myself but have previously had this and other PR products from the brand). A.Florence are one of my favourite brands - they are such a hidden gem! (Blog post of A.Florence Reviews found HERE). This oil serum contains 0.3% Encapsulated Retinol, Pineapple Enzymes, Co-Q10+  which are all fabulous for anti-aging. I love that the brand inform us of the % of the Retinol - 0.3% doesn't sound like much but it's actually a very effective strength. For me, this is a perfect maintenance Retinol, it's one that you can use every day and will see great results without it being that strong that you'll worry that your face might fall off. With it being encapsulated Retinol, this ensures that the Retinol is at it's freshest when applied and is very stable. It also contains a blend of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant oils that help keep skin nourished. This is a gorgeous all round oil that I'll definitely be buying again and again!

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6 (£59 for 30ml - PR / gifted). There's a full review of this product HERE but here's a quick overview. Medik8 are at the forefront when it comes to Vitamin A research and it shows in their products. This serum contains 0.06% stabilised Retinal which is a super charged version of Retinol. Don't let the low percentage fool you, this stuff packs a punch! Retinal works faster than traditional Retinol and is less irritating too - win win! I'll be trying Crystal Retinal 10 - the stronger version - when this tube runs out!

Verso Super Eye Serum* (£65-80 for 30ml - I've hyperlinked the cheapest! Product bought by myself). Verso are a Swedish brand and the majority of their products contain their unique Vitamin A complex - Retinol 8 - named as it is 8 times as potent as traditional Retinol and half as irritating to skin. I've tried the Night Cream from this range and a couple of samples of the serum too and can confirm that just like this serum, they are strong! You can feel as soon as you apply this serum, that it's powerful stuff! I personally didn't have any irritation with this but I would imagine that some people would so I'd recommend you to build up your usage. This keeps my under eye area smooth and wrinkle free. It's also one of the only products that helps with my dark circles - it's fab!

Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment* (£53 for 30ml - product bought myself). Now I've saved my favourite until last. This powerful serum contains 1% Retinol along with Vitamin C and Peptides to give a brilliant all round anti-aging effect. It also contains soothing ingredients like Liquorice root and oat extract to counteract any redness or irritation. I built my usage up with this one as I could tell it was strong straight away. It's a gorgeous lotion consistency that hydrates skin really well and works perfectly with all other products that I've used with it. It honestly made a big difference to my frown lines within a couple of uses! Amazing stuff!

And that's my take on Retinol, hopefully I've got all the science bits right. That's how I've interpreted it anyway! (Please feel free to correct me on anything).

So in summary; Pixi and Wow You are great if you're new to Retinol, Indeed Labs is for you if you're looking for a bargain, A.Florence and Medik8 are perfect for long term maintenance and Verso and Paula's Choice are if you want a bit of oomph! I hope that'll help some of you decide which to buy! I'm going to be trying Drunk Elephant A-Passioni* soon - watch this space for a review.

Look Fantastic have 15% off Paula's Choice now plus an extra 22% off if you use code PLUSH22 - meaning you can get the Retinol super cheap! Click HERE to go straight to the website!
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