Understanding Retinol and What It Does

As I recently celebrated the big 30, and now just quietly the not-so-big thirty-one (thriving thirties, right), I knew it was time to finally pull out the big guns and begin to introduce retinol into my skincare regime. While once upon a time only something a doctor would prescribe, brands like The Ordinary give everyone everywhere access and more importantly, understanding, to the big wide world of acids and active ingredients.

Put simply: As we age, the skin’s cell renewal process begins to slow which in turns gives the skin a dull or sallow appearance. Retinols, also known as Vitamin A, ‘switch back on’ the shedding of skin cells at a faster pace which results in a fresh glow to skin. Any products applied penetrate much deeper and work that much harder.

My retinol experience begins with The Ordinary’s Retinol 0.2% in Squalane, and as the jar is almost empty, I’m about to introduce Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. If you noticed the slight difference in the names (retinol/retinoid), basically retinol is a weaker form of retinoid, hence the labelling of the products. As it’s widely and very strongly advised by skin experts, any retinol usage must begin at lower levels as the skin build tolerance to the active ingredient. Irritation, redness and peeling are all common side effects, while temporary, and levels can be increased as the skin adjusts.

Let’s break down the two different products further:

  • Step 1: The Ordinary’s Retinol 0.2% in Squalane. This has light oil-like texture and is applied before thicker serums, oils and creams. While the retinol helps to reduce the appearance of photo-damage, skin ageing and fine lines, the addition of Squalane provide hydrating benefits for those on the drier skin side.
  • Step 2: Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. This has a creamy texture, and contains a higher level of the star ingredient. The Granactive Retinoid works to enhance the skins elasticity, plumpness and hydration levels for a radiant and fresh glow.

I plan to update this article once I’ve used the 2% for an extended period, but so far, here’s my thoughts:

  1. When applied to clean dry skin, the 0.2% feels slightly tingly and itchy for a short time (to be expected) but thanks to the Squalane, doesn’t leave me feeling dry or scratchy;
  2. I notice that each night I apply the 0.2%, the next morning I’ve definitely a noticeable glow and softness to the skin;
  3. I started applying the 0.2% of an evening once a week, but can now apply every second or third day without any reaction, giving me confidence for the higher dosage to come;
  4. Sunscreen is a non-negotiable each and every day, as retinols can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation;
  5. Still applying my Vitamin C of a morning with zero dramas, and I’m really starting to feel like a #skincarejunkie with all these exciting lotions and potions!

While I’ve also enjoyed The Ordinary’s (and NIOD’s) range and accessibility of products, I was reminded last week upon listening to Nicole Kilner’s podcast episode with Gemma Watts (The Glow Journal) why this brand continues to stay at the top of it’s game – its main priority is doing business in a kind way, with exceptional products to boot.

And finally, Deciem have given us all an early Christmas present as until November 30th, they have 23% off everything on their website – I say run, don’t walk!

*This post may contain affiliate links for which I receive a commission at no extra cost to you, which assists to support and maintain my freelance writing and this website.


Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.