Everything You Need to Know About Retinol

There is a lot of bullshit anti-ageing miracle creams with dashes of voodoo extract costing up to hundreds of dollars.

Retinol is the most studied anti-ageing workhouse today available on the market. 

Retinol has been studied since the 1970s when they were studied for helping patients with acne. Thanks to this, it is the most studied anti-ageing ingredient with several independent studies backing its effectiveness.

Thanks to the shift away from a blind trust of marketing claims and a focus on truly understanding how skincare works and what it’s made of - there has been rising demand for information about how retinol works so I will let you in on some of my learnings about retinol.

Although retinoids were originally studied to treat acne - creams containing retinoids have been found to reduce signs of photo-ageing (that is, sun damage) such as wrinkles and sun spots. Although you can take retinoid tablets - topically applied retinoids are the safest.


Retinoic acid is the ingredient that has the most research for removing sun damage and boosting collagen in the deeper layers of the skin. This is not just bogus "evidence" from cosmetic companies - this is backed with amazing data. 

Retinoids are derivates of Vitamin A! I've got some of them below in the diagram. Most of these require a subscription from your doctor. 

Then you have Retinol! These are non-prescription, weaker forms of Retinoic acid. These are less reliable and you can buy them over-the-counter! 

I am currently taking Tretinoin - and I saw my Dermatologist for advice and a subscription! So it's best to get advice from a Dermatologist. 

The good thing about a prescribed retinoid is that there is a lot more regulation, transparency and science behind it - whereas when you buy market retinol from cosmetic companies it is often overpriced and you don't actually know how effective it is. 


One of the drawbacks of retinol is that it irrirates many people's skin by causing dryness, flakiness and redness. This usually happens for the first few weeks until it starts working. 

Here are some of my favourite tips on introducing retinol into your skin routine:

1. Use it every other day (don't use it daily to begin with). Use it every second or third day at 1st.

2. Use a lower concentration by diluting it with moisturiser.

3. Short contact: apply the mask half an hour then wash it off.

4. Moisturise before and after applying the retinoid.

5. Do not apply the product to wet or damp skin. Make sure your skin is completely dry. Even if you have a moisturiser on, make sure the moisturiser is completely dry.

 Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid retinol altogether. 

If you have dry skin, you should consider pairing your retinol with an extra-hydrating moisturiser as retinol can dry the skin out.

 If you are peeling, do not try to touch your face too much and just moisturise religiously! I find that putting on moisturiser and letting it sink in (and dry too), before applying retinol is a great way to reduce irritation from retinol.