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What is retinol?

30 January 2019

Retinol – no doubt you’ve heard this word bandied around in the beauty world of late with the industry nicknaming it the gold-standard ingredient in skincare. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your skin? Here the expert team at Fabled by Marie Claire demystify 2019’s magic product. 


When should I start using it?

Now is as good a time as any. Many dermatologists suggest we start using Retinol-based products in our mid-twenties, especially if you suffer from breakouts or pigmentation to avoid uneven skin tone and scarring. Susanna Saiu, REN’s International Trainer and Technical Education Manager recommends you use Retinol for three months, and then take a three-month break.

What are the rules of Retinol?

Apply a small amount in the evening as part of your skincare regime, after serums but before heavier creams (if sensitivity occurs, use it every other night). Dermatologists recommend using it before bed because Retinol breaks down in sunlight – this makes it less effective but can increase photosensitivity, which is why it’s important to always use an SPF 30 or above, sun or no sun, to protect the action of the ingredients and your skin. You can also try adding some Vitamin C into your morning routine for double the benefits – this will help to neutralise free radicals and protect Retinol from oxidation. Fabled by Marie Claire loves The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.

Is it suitable for everyone?

“Yes, though different strengths are appropriate for different skin types”, says Susanna. “If skin is sensitive, use it sparingly as it can enhance inflammation and peeling, leaving the skin quite dry, flaky and irritated.”

Is there a product that gives Retinol results, minus the risk of irritation?

Fabled by Marie Claire loves: REN Bio Retinoid Anti Wrinkle Concentrate Oil, £45 which contains a mix of Vitamin A analogues so it’s more gentle on the skin.

Best of the rest

  • perricodneMD

    Perricone MD OVM Retinol Cream, £135

  • theordinary

    The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane, £6

  • Zelens-drops

    Zelens Power A High Potency Vitamin A Retinol Treatment Drops, £120



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