If there’s one ingredient that should be in every woman’s midlife skincare routine, it’s retinol. The gold standard for anti-ageing products, retinol has been scientifically proven to improve wrinkles and fine lines and erase sun damage, making it ideal for mature skin.
Retinol not only fights signs of ageing but also eases them by increasing cell turnover and encouraging the production of collagen. Its benefits go beyond anti-ageing, helping combat acne, visibly brightening dark circles and reducing dullness.
Retinol is a magical ingredient but it can also be a tricky customer. When first using retinol, people will often experience dryness, flakiness and redness as the skin adjusts to the ramped-up cell turnover that it encourages. Because of the irritation it can cause, it’s important that you start low and go slow with a low percentage retinol (around 0.3%) that you apply once or twice a week. You can then increase to more regular use and higher percentages (around 0.5% and then around 1%).
Avoid other chemical exfoliants (such as AHAs and BHAs) on the days you use retinols and remember to always wear SPF. Avoid applying to the eye area and the neck, and always wait 20 minutes after application before moving on to other products.
Medik8 Retinol 3TR Serum, £29
A great starter retinol, the 3TR serum from Medik8 contains 0.3% retinol making it a perfect introduction to anyone new to the ingredient.
The serum works to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and unclog congested pores for a healthier and younger-looking complexion. Once you’ve built up your tolerance, Medik8 offers formulas with 0.6% and 1% retinol.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3, £65
Another good option for first-time retinol users, the Retinol 0.3 cream from SkinCeuticals is formulated to minimise irritation and specially packaged to preserve its potency.
By accelerating cellular turnover, it improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, discolouration, blemishes, and pores.
Jordan Samuel Skin Retinol Treatment Oil, £38.50
Jordan Samuel’s oil-based retinol formula is gentle and particularly good for those with dry and mature skin. Both a corrective treatment as well as a nourishing moisturiser, the marula oil works to keep skin soft and supple with its soothing and healing properties. The retinol meanwhile will help diminish the appearance of fine lines.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, £78
Part of Murad’s retinol range, the Youth Renewal Serum combines three retinol technologies – a potent, fast-acting retinol, a gradual time-release retinol that minimises irritation and a booster which amplifies retinol’s ability to increase cell turnover for radiant looking skin. This is a retinol treatment designed to deliver resultswithout retinol’s side-effects.
Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Reform, £80
Hollywood dermatologist Shani Darden drew on her years of experience when developing her namesake skincare line. Her Retinol Reform is gentle but effective with 2.2% encapsulated retinol. It works to improve skin texture, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles while boosting elasticity and calming inflammation.
Renée Rouleau Advanced Resurfacing Serum, US$86.50
Formulated especially for sensitive skin, this serum from facialist Renée Rouleau contains 0.4% stable, time-release retinol. This retinol will encourage the repair of collagen and elastin, smoothing sun damaged wrinkles. Soothing extracts mean the skin will stay calm without the dryness, peeling or irritation expected from retinol products.
Environ Concentrated Retinol Serum, £43
One of the early pioneers of Vitamin A (of which retinol is a derivative), Dr Des Fernandes developed his skincare line Environ around the ingredient.
The brand’s Step-up System makes it easy to gradually increase your dose of retinol with numbered products designed to help you progress to higher concentrations. This retinol serum comes in three concentrations. Use two to four bottles before moving up to the next level.
Beauty Pie Super Retinol High Dose Booster Treatment, from £16.58
For retinol veterans, this booster from Beauty Pie contains 3% encapsulated retinol complex which works on the skin at 0.09% pure retinol.
As 1% pure retinol is the highest concentration you can buy without a prescription, this product is strong and you should only use it after your skin has had experience with retinol.