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The Ultimate Guide to Retinol

Come a little closer because we’re going to let you in on a little secret. Ready? If you want to totally transform your skin, you need to get retinol into your skincare routine, stat! It is one of those products that really is as good as you’ve heard.

If you’re a bit new to the world of retinol or need a bit of a refresher, we’re going to give you a full rundown of what retinol is, how it works and all of the incredible benefits you’re about to see. Seriously, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

What is retinol?

Retinol lies under the umbrella of retinoids and is your most common variety without needing a prescription. It is derived from vitamin A and can come in a few different forms; we’re talking lotions, gels and serums. Finding a retinol product that loves your skin is all part of the journey but we promise, once you do, you’ll be hooked.

On your retinol hunt, you may notice a percentage. That’s the strength level and is really important to take note of. We’ll explain why a little later…

What does retinol do for your skin?

The better question would be, “what doesn’t retinol do for your skin?” It really has a long list of talents, which is why many dermatologists say to their patients that if they do nothing else, they should use retinol (well, that and sunscreen).

If ageing skin or acne has you down, retinol is going to be your latest obsession. The beauty of retinol is its ability to travel deep into the skin, past the epidermis, and help neutralise free radicals (the nasty unstable particles that break down collagen and cause cellular damage). In fact, our vegan retinol products are Encapsulated Retinol, meaning all of the gorgeous active ingredients aren’t released until they are deep in the skin layer. That’s good news because it maximises the benefits and minimises dryness, irritation and flaking that you’ll sometimes see with traditional retinol.

Reduce signs of ageing

That sounds all well and good so far, but you may be thinking, how does retinol work? We’re glad you asked! We’ve mentioned that retinol fights free radicals, stopping the premature breakdown of collagen to keep your skin plump, but it also boosts collagen production for a double dose of anti-ageing!

Often when you start using a retinol product, you’ll notice some initial redness or peeling. But don’t freak out just yet, it is just a case of re-training your skin to speed up the cell turnover rate. Once you hit 30, cell regeneration starts to slow down, but retinol is what kicks it into gear again. If you stick with it, your skin will start producing collagen at a faster rate and send fine lines and wrinkles packing. Retinol is also going to improve your skin’s texture by smoothing it out with more structure and elasticity. Sounds damn good to us!

Reduce acne

Besides ageing, retinol can work wonders for those who deal with acne. By increasing cell turnover, retinol helps to keep your pores clear and regulate oil production, which is always good news in our books. Less oil and congestion means less acne! Plus, retinol can fade acne scars which is another win.

Skin brightening & hess hyperpigmentation

As if that wasn’t enough, retinol can brighten sun damage and hyperpigmentation thanks to the amazing antioxidant and cell turnover benefits. It limits the tyrosinase enzyme, which stimulates melanin production in the skin, and lightens any dark spots.

How to use retinol

Let’s take a step back, start with a gentle cleanser like The Uncomplicated Cleanser to remove any impurities. Then you’re good to dig into your retinol. Use a pearl sized amount every second night (make sure you use it at night as retinol can make you photosensitive). Then, top it off with your favourite moisturiser and let the retinol work its magic.

It is important to think of retinol like a treatment, not a moisturiser. Use only a small amount - this is not the time to go wild with a product!

You know how we said those retinol percentages were going to be important? Well, here’s why… If you go too hard, too fast, you’ll see that dreaded redness and irritation. We always tell people to start with a low dose of retinol to start training your skin. We’ve developed four levels of retinol strengths; 0.25%, 0.5%, 0.75%, and 1% so you can find the perfect retinol for you.

Once you’ve finished the Level 1 Retinol and any sensitivity or redness has stopped, you’re clear to go to the next level, and so on! If you’ve got sensitive skin, you will probably want to stay around the Level 1 or Level 2 mark (and patch test before you start), whereas if you have oily or thicker skin, you’ll probably be able to tolerate and see even better results from a higher retinol percentage. In a nutshell, retinol isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation; just go slowly and see what works best for you!

Oh and If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, please, please avoid retinol for the safety of your baby. Don’t worry, once you’re ready, our retinol will be here to transform your skin.


You’ll start to see brighter, more plump and glowing skin in 4-6 weeks - thank us then! If you’re not sure whether retinol is for you, or are just not sure where to start, our skincare experts are happy to help, chat to them for free here.