A Beginner’s Guide to Retinol

A Beginner’s Guide to Retinol

Discover everything you need to know about Retinol. Whether you’re looking to better understand the benefits, or learn a few application tips that will help you avoid any irritating side effects, we’ve got you covered...

Whether your dermatologist recommended it, or you caught wind of its benefits on TikTok, there’s no denying that Retinol is a hot topic in the world of skincare – but this is no passing trend. Truth is, Retinol has been highly regarded by skin specialists (including 111SKIN Founder, Dr Yannis Alexandrides) for decades.

A powerful derivative of Vitamin A, Retinol stands head and shoulders above most other actives thanks to its remarkable benefits. It helps speed up skin cell turnover, promotes a brighter, more even complexion, and effectively targets signs of ageing (and yes, it actually works – au revoir wrinkles).

However, exposing your skin to too much Retinol too fast can leave it dry, flaky, and irritated, so it’s important you use it properly. That’s where this guide comes in. As well as delving into the transformative effects of Retinol, we’re going to share application tips and unveil the science behind our industry-disrupting Retinol Oil so that you can enjoy all benefits of this game-changing active with minimal irritation.



What is Retinol?

Dubbed by many as the gold standard of skincare, Retinol is a potent active that can be bought over the counter and applied topically to help accelerate cell turnover, control oil production, and fight signs of ageing.

It’s a derivative of Vitamin A – a vital nutrient, known for its ability to support collagen and elastin synthesis. “Vitamin A is a cornerstone of skin health. Without it, the collagen matrix starts to break down, causing skin to age more rapidly and become duller over time,” explains Dr Yannis.
When Retinol is applied to skin, it must be converted into Retinoic Acid before it can start working. However, it’s important to note that Retinol is not the same as Retinoic Acid. The latter is a prescription-strength active that begins working as soon as it’s applied. In a world where we want results fast, this might sound like a good thing, but it actually increases the risk of irritation.

Where Retinol (and any other Vitamin A derivative for that matter) is concerned, there are two key principles to remember:

1. Less is more
2. Slow and steady

The process of converting Retinol into Retinoic Acid supports these golden rules two-fold: It lowers the concentration of Retinoic Acid which, in turn, allows your skin the time it needs to adjust. That’s why we always recommend opting for an over-the-counter Retinol treatment in favour of prescription-strength alternatives – particularly if you’re a first-time user.

What are the benefits of Retinol?

Incorporating Retinol into your skincare routine can be truly transformative. It has an unmatched ability to brighten your complexion and promote skin regeneration by accelerating cell turnover. Not only does this reduce the appearance of existing fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, it also prevents future ones forming.

Think of it like this... When you’re in your 20s and early 30s, your skin cells turnover every 28 days, leaving behind brighter, smoother skin. However, this process slows down exponentially as we age, causing wrinkles, photodamage, and dryness. That’s where Retinol comes in. By using it regularly, you can continue to encourage cell turnover at a faster rate. Retinol also stimulates collagen production (another process that slows as we age), leaving skin looking fuller and plumper and, once again, visibly reducing wrinkles and fine lines. It's almost like you’re tricking your skin into thinking it’s 20 again.

At this point, you’re probably starting to see why Retinol is the go-to active when it comes to targeting signs of ageing. However, its benefits don’t stop there. Thanks to its ability to slough away dead skin cells Retinol can improve radiance and unclog pores. Not only does this leave your skin glowing, it also helps regulate sebum production, making Retinol an excellent solution for those struggling with blemishes and breakouts.



Why you should use Retinol at any age  

On that note, we want to say once and for all that Retinol is not only for mature skin. “Everybody can benefit from using Retinol*,” says Dr Yannis. “If you’re in your 20s and 30s it helps to regulate oil production, control blemishes, and prevent premature ageing. If you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60’s, and beyond, it effectively targets advanced signs of ageing such as deeper-set wrinkles, age spots, and a loss of firmness and elasticity.”

* We advise removing Retinol from your routine if you are pregnant or nursing. You can find out more about how to craft the perfect pregnancy-friendly skincare routine here.



Why choose the Black Diamond Retinol Oil?

Stroll through the beauty hall of any department store and you’ll be spoiled for choice with dozens of Retinol creams, serums, and night treatments – so what makes ours so special?

Aside from the fact it’s been created by Dr Yannis, a world-renowned Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon with unparalleled understanding of the skin, the Black Diamond Retinol Oil is superior to other formulas because it promises all the power of Retinol with no irritation. Yes, you read that correctly.

The one ‘downside’ to Retinol has always been the negative side effects (read: dryness, redness, and flaky skin). However, this precisely balanced formula delivers all the benefits outlined above without aggravating your skin.

Powered by a 2.5% blend of Retinol and Granactive Retinoid (more on that later) suspended in eight nourishing natural oils, the Black Diamond Retinol Oil simultaneously soothes and moisturises skin while resurfacing it. Moreover, the inclusion of Granactive Retinoid – a gentler alternative to Retinol – means this product can be used on even the most sensitive skin.

But rest assured, there has been no compromise on efficacy. Enhanced by our signature Black Diamond Technology, an innovative skincare system that uses Fine Black Diamond Powder to optimise the bioavailability of potent actives, this product delivers Retinol into your skin in the most effective way for truly transformative results.

“Years ago, when I was prescribing Retin-A [a form of Retinoic Acid], a lot of my patients would stop using it because it irritated their skin.

“I understood the power of Retinol and wanted people to be able to incorporate it into their skincare routines with confidence. My aim was to create a product that delivered all the benefits of this incredible active without causing irritation.”



Enter, Granactive Retinoid – A Retinol alternative

Think of Granactive Retinoid as the user-friendly, more forgiving alternative to Retinol. It boasts all the same age-defying benefits as traditional Retinol, but this clever active has been consistently proven to be less irritating. It’s also more stable and less likely to break down when exposed to light or air. This makes it an ideal option for sensitive skin types and the perfect addition to our Black Diamond Retinol Oil.




How to Apply Retinol

Remember the key principles we talked about? This is where they really come into play. Plus, there are a few more application tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of the Black Diamond Retinol Oil – think, L.E.G.S. Allow us to explain...

(NOTE: These tips are true for all Retinol products)

Less is More

A little of the Black Diamond Retinol Oil goes a long way – 2-3 drops will do just fine. Dispense the product onto your fingertips, distribute evenly, then gently press onto your skin. Applying more wont speed up the results, but it may increase risk of irritation. It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t allow the pipette touch your skin as this can transfer bacteria into the product and cause contamination.

Evening Only

Retinol increases your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and UV damage so it should only ever be used as part of your PM routine. Apply to clean, dry skin a couple of hours before bed. On the evenings that you apply Retinol, avoid layering other serums, treatments, and creams (particularly products containing AHAs and BHAs) on top for the first 1-2 weeks.

Gradually Increase Usage

When introducing Retinol to your skincare routine, it’s important to take it slow. Begin by using it once or twice per week for the first two weeks – this gives your skin the chance to get used to the resurfacing action. Once you’ve built up a bit of a tolerance, you can gradually increase the frequency of application. The Black Diamond Retinol Oil can be used every day once your skin is used to it. Be patient and stay consistent – this is the key to achieving optimal results.


While Retinol’s ability to stimulate cell turnover and resurface skin makes it a powerhouse in terms of anti-ageing, it also leaves our skin susceptible to UV damage. Applying SPF regularly is a fundamental rule of skincare, but it becomes especially important when you’re using Retinol. Always apply a generous layer the morning after usage to avoid sun damage and irritation. This is an absolute must, so we cannot stress this enough.

A Final Thought... 

Incorporating Retinol into your skincare routine can truly transform your skin. It delivers impressive results for a wide range of skin concerns – remember, Retinol does so much more than simply fight wrinkles so you can work it into your routine at any age.

To avoid irritation, start slow, use a minimal amount initially, and gradually increase frequency to allow your skin to adjust. Our Black Diamond Retinol Oil is the perfect option for beginner users as it's been specifically formulated to deliver all the benefits of Retinol without irritating your skin.

With patience and consistency, you can experience all the incredible benefits of Retinol and enjoy a radiant, revitalised, younger-looking complexion.

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