Retinol: what is retinol, does it work, can it reduce wrinkles – what are the best retinol serums in the UK 2022?

Retinol is available in a variety of strengths, from OTC to prescription. (Image: Shutterstock)

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Retinol has long been touted as the best product for reducing the signs of aging, however, due to its irritating effect, many people avoid it, believing that other anti-aging products can do more or less the same job.

However, according to Amanda Pock of Skin Technology in Glasgow, retinol is the only product that penetrates the skin’s membrane and has a true anti-aging effect.

Why Use Retinol?

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“Our skin is waterproof, so all other products that claim to be able to penetrate the skin cannot,” she tells NationalWorld. “The only ingredient that can pass through the skin is retinol.”

the beauty-skincare/how-retinol works#how-it-works”>According to Healthline.comretinol penetrates under the epidermis or outer layers of the skin into the dermis underneath.

In this middle layer of skin, retinol creates a plumping effect and reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores by neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production.

It also has an exfoliating effect on the surface of the skin, improving its texture and tone, as well as reducing acne and associated scarring. Over time, retinol balances the skin’s moisture levels, preventing the accumulation of dead skin cells.

Why does retinol dry out the skin?

The downside is that it can lead to dry, flaky, and itchy skin, especially in people with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema.

However, Pok, who deals with a wide range of skin conditions from severe acne to pigmentation to premature aging, explains that the reason retinol dries out our skin is simply that it is “irritating.”

She explains: “It irritates the cells so the body tries to create more skin faster.

“When you start looking your age in your 30s and 40s, retinol speeds up cell turnover so it happens faster than your chronological age.”

The irritation caused by retinol can be reduced by gradually increasing its use, Pok explains.

“If it’s too annoying, slow down. As the body becomes more conditioned, you can increase the percentage if your skin requires it.”

What strength of retinol should I use?

Over-the-counter retinol products tend to be at a lower concentration—between 0.2% and 0.3%—while 1% retinol is considered the active ingredient in prescription products. However, some of the strongest products available are chirally adjusted to deliver the product to the skin faster and more efficiently.

According to Poka, the strength of the product you should use will depend on both your skin type and how long you’ve been using the retinol. the skin becomes more habitual and intensifies over time with each night.

It’s likely that you’ll feel some dryness and irritation when you first start using retinol, however, Pook advises not to apply a moisturizer over the product. If you need to add some moisture, she recommends waiting at least 10 minutes after applying retinol to make sure it’s not diluted.

How to apply retinol?

So how should retinol be used to get the most out of its anti-aging properties? Pook recommends applying it once a day after washing your face in the evening. And although it is possible to apply retinol on the neck and around your eyesshe warns that you should do this with caution and less often than on the rest of the face, since the skin in these areas is thinner.

You should also take care to use full spectrum sunscreen every day since retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays. “Treat your skin as if it were the skin of a newborn,” Pok says. “If you use retinol products, your new skin cells are constantly working on the surface, which why does your skin look better – but you must protect it from further damage.”

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6

Medik8’s Crystal Retinal line uses a vitamin A derivative that converts to retinoic acid faster in the skin than regular retinol and promises to deliver results 11x faster.

The serum minimizes fine lines and wrinkles for firmer skin.

Hyaluronic acid, glycerin and vitamin E help prevent dry skin, leaving it radiant. The product has a great texture and pleasant smell, and the tube is easy to use and allows you to squeeze out a sufficient amount of product directly into your hands.

This product makes your skin really comfortable while actively working on the signs of aging.


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L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Pure Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Deep Night Serum (30ml)

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Pure Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Deep Night Serum (30ml)

This wallet-friendly product contains 0.2% retinol, L’Oreal’s highest concentration. For an over-the-counter retinol, it has a powerful effect, leaving a pleasant tingle on the skin.

The product combines macro-hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin and prevent excessive drying.

It has a slightly sticky texture and is scented (in case that’s not your preference), but the product leaves skin glowing and promises to reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles over time.

At £24.99, this is a bargain and a good choice for those starting out with retinol products.


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Skin Generics Anti-Aging Serum Retinol 20% Active Complex 30ml

skin generics

Combining five anti-aging properties, including molecular retinol and soy isoflavones, this product promises to stimulate collagen production while protecting the complexion.

Hyaluronic acid, elastin, vitamin C and Hawaiian algae hydrate and protect skin, while anti-aging properties reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Priced at £32.95, this is an effective over-the-counter product for those starting out with retinol.


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Sienna X Retinol Serum

Sienna X Retinol Serum

Sienna Serum contains 0.3% retinol to exfoliate dead cells, reduce lines and wrinkles, and enhance radiance and radiance.

Rich in Vitamin C, Kakadu Plum helps brighten the complexion, reduce brown spots and protect against impurities. The texture and smell are nice too.


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The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane – 30ml

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane – 30ml

This affordable retinol contains a 5% concentration of Granactive Retinoid, an advanced active retinoid complex that promises better anti-aging results than retinol without irritation.

The consistency is smooth and pleasant to use, leaves the skin feeling moisturized.

At just £11.90, this is a good option for those looking to try a retinoid product without the investment.

The Ordinary retinoid portfolio is also available at 2% if you’re looking for less irritation.


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PCA Intensive Clarity Treatment: 0.5% pure retinol overnight

PCA Intensive Clarity Treatment: 0.5% pure retinol overnight

Formulated specifically for people with acne and containing 2% salicylic acid, this night treatment is also effective for signs of aging.

It contains retinopeptide and plant stem cell extract, as well as a delivery system often used in pharmaceuticals rather than skin care to deliver ingredients deeper into the skin.

The pleasant, fragrance-free formula comes in an unassuming soft tube for easy application.

This product made the skin clear and the lines were visibly smoothed.


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The Inkey List Retinol (30 ml)

The Inkey List Retinol (30 ml)

Another inexpensive option, Inkey List Retinol, contains Granactive Retinoid plus 1% RetiStar stabilized retinol and squalane to soothe and hydrate skin.

The unscented serum glides on effortlessly to target signs of aging and promises to reduce the appearance of fine lines when used at night while protecting against irritation.


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Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

This beautifully packaged product combines 1.0% retinol with superfood rich ingredients to reduce the appearance of fine lines and free radical damage.

Retinol restores skin firmness and restores uneven texture. It’s easy to use, and a blend of passionfruit, apricot and jojoba oils helps restore moisture and lipid levels.

It is even more effective when used in combination with Framboos TLC Glycolic Night Serum to remove dead skin cells and prepare the skin for retinol exposure.


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Cosmedix Refine Plus

Cosmedix Refine Plus

This powerful formula contains 8% of Cosmedix’s proprietary Retinol AGP complex to help reduce the signs of premature aging and improve skin texture and tone, and is available by prescription only.

The technology allows the skin to more effectively absorb the product, while amino acids and moisturizers help stimulate collagen production. After a few weeks of use, my skin texture has visibly improved, my pores are clearer and excess sebum has been reduced. Fine lines are also smoothed out.

Medico Skincare experts recommend using Refine Plus with Cosmedix Purity Clean, which contains L-lactic acid to speed up the conversion of retinol to its active form, called Al-trans retinoic acid.


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SkinGenuity Home Rejuvenation Kit

SkinGenuity Home Rejuvenation Kit

The SkinGenuity Facial Rejuvenation Kit, a combination of two serums and a home use kit, claims to be the cutting edge of anti-aging skin care technology.

It works using intercellular messengers that stimulate skin cells to repair themselves. Repair Serum helps repair sun-damaged skin, while Repair Serum uses targeted growth factors and 0.5% retinol to reverse signs of aging, including deep wrinkles.

The products come with an at-home microneedling kit that enhances the effects of serums. Serums made my skin look radiant and youthful, while microneedling initially caused dryness and flaking, which was what it was supposed to do before exposing a new layer of more radiant skin.

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