There is a considerable amount of confusion around retinoids/retinol, and as a result of this misunderstanding, many people are missing out on this one simple skincare ingredient that is one of the only ingredients that has been extensively proven to improve visible signs of ageing, with a large amount of extra skincare benefits. 

When retinol is absorbed by the skin it converts into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid has the ability to communicate with skin cells and effect their behaviour. The receptor sites on skin cells allow the skin to receive a message from retinol. The type of message it communicates will depend on your particular skincare needs.

So, what is retinol?

To put it simply, retinoids are a derivative of Vitamin A. Retinoic acid is only available prescription, whereas retinol is the over the counter ingredient that is converted from retinoic acid in order to be able to sell it as a non-prescription alternative. Essentially, they both fight visible signs of ageing, but retinol takes a little longer to see the results, which is why it makes a great skin care product for ongoing use in conjunction with other cell-communicating ingredients.

Why should I use retinol?

  1. Eliminates wrinkles
    Retinol It helps the skin to look younger as it increases collagen production, and has been proven to reduce fine lines since the early 1970’s. 

  2. Fights free radicals
    Retinol is an antioxidant and can help to prevent free-radicals that cause oxidative stress and disease. (Note: As Retinol thins the top layer of the skin, diligent use of SPF is encouraged)

  3. Effective at treating acne
    Retinoids were originally developed in the 60’s as an extremely effective prescriptive acne treatment. Retinol can help to clear dead skin skill and remove and decrease oil production.

  4. Tighter pores
    Whilst retinol cannot decrease pore size, it can improve pore function and reduce the size of any enlarged pores that may have been caused by clogging.

  5. More even skin tone
    Retinol reduces the activity of melanocytes which are the cells that produce unwanted pigment in our skin.

  6. Smoother and firmer skin
    Retinol thins the top layer of the skin, whilst creating a thicker layer underneath. This makes the skin look firmer.

  7. Radiant skin
    Retinol works as an exfoliator by sloughing off dead skin cells and renewing the skins surface to reveal radiance underneath.

  8. Ability to prepare for further skin treatments
    If you suffer from hyperpigmentation for example, and wanted to get a more aggressive treatment such as laser resurfacing, the use of Retinol in the lead up to your treatment would encourage the skin to heal at a faster rate and reduce the risk of further pigment changes.

  9. Encourages healing of scars and stretch marks
    Whilst not advised before first child, the use of retinol can improve the appearance of stretch marks.

  10. Prevents photo-ageing
    Retinol has been shown to prevent the rise of collagenase-the enzyme that breaks down collagen after UV exposure.

  11. Increases skin hydration
    Retinol increases the production of hyaluronic acid.


Retinoids can cause irritation to the skin, especially for new users, but this can be subsided by the use of hydrocortisone the calm the skin. To acclimate the skin, start with a lower concentration and use every other day and gradually build up to a higher percentage.