• Anastasia Pentias

TBN: Retinol Edition Part 2- Suggested Products


Part 2 of this series on retinol covers my suggestions on specific products. I have found that if you start low and then slowly introduce higher concentrations, within a year you can apply even the stronger formulas. However, that is the usual case. You do not know your individual case, until you actually try. You will not know what your skin loves, or not, unless you apply a specific product.

(In case you missed it and are interested in the basic information on retinol as an antiaging treatment for your skin, please click here for Retinol Edition Part 1: https://bit.ly/2SUdJvG)

With retinol, you should never draw a conclusion quickly. Give it 6 weeks at the very minimum. Your skin might purge and clear up. But it might just keep on breaking out. It might react in a way you cannot manage. In that case stop, soothe your skin and perhaps try at a later time. In some cases, your skin might just not get on with a specific product.

Below, you can find products divided into two categories: milder and stronger. If you don't want to deal with retinol side effects, stay in the first category and you'll be just fine.

'Which products are good to start with?'


* The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane, is an excellent place to start. The squalane acts as a buffer and prevents any irritation. This is a very comfortable oil that leaves your skin glowing, supple and plump. You can buy it here: https://bit.ly/2I5W1RH

For the second bottle, you can move up to the 5% which is still mild, no irritations, but more effective. Retinol is unstable and oxidises very easily. Which means that, after a while, it completely looses its potency. With this product, I have found it stops working after two months. So don't let it go to waste: apply on your decolletage and the back of your hands, because when that time is up, it stops working. All in all, a wonderful, affordable product You can buy it here: https://bit.ly/2GySvyy


*Sunday Riley Luna this is expensive but beautiful. Glow, glow, glow is what you get. Supreme moisture and clarity. I even saw an improvement with my sun spots. This is a night oil with a distinct smell which I LOVE (not everyone does though): like cocoa and thyme, this is like aromatherapy for me. Massage it all over your face (be careful not to get too close to the eyes, this sucker travels while you sleep) and top it off with a simple moisturiser. I will buy this again for the summer months. It is available to buy here: https://bit.ly/2EmLvSo


*Ren Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate a very close cousin of the Luna described above, this is also a beautiful oil that conditions your skin and gives you firmness and plumpness. I didn't use it for more than 6 weeks, so I can't tell you its long-term game, I can only note that it did not fade my pigmentation as the Luna does. It's worth considering though, as it's half the price and the formula is more sophisticated than the Ordinary oils- you can feel the difference in your skin. It is available to buy here: https://bit.ly/2T0GI1d


*Dr Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum this is a great formula, I loved it especially on fine lines. The results are subtle but distinct; your complexion is refined on all fronts. The eye product from this line is AMAZING and I do not use dedicated eye products any more, so I don't say this lightly. The serum costs £70.00 but QVC UK offers a super value-for-money set with the serum, cream and eye serum for £80.00. You can buy it here: https://bit.ly/2I8ICsc


*Pestle & Mortar Superstar Night Oil this was one of the first retinols I ever tried and, boy, was I lucky. This is an expensive oil but it makes a difference and I had zero adverse reactions. Not even dryness. You can find it at several stockists but lookfantastic.com regularly run 20% discounts which I have not found elsewhere. It is available to buy here: https://bit.ly/2E6wyn7

'Which stronger retinols would you suggest?'


*Drunk Elephant A-Passioni I'm currently using this exclusively. I freaked out initially because it gave me pimples- my skin purged. Due to my long history with acne, when I see more than one pimple popping up simultaneously, I feel VERY uneasy. That soon passed, though, and I have come to love this product. It's strong, definitely a second stage retinol. I will write a full review in time, but, suffice it to say, this gives you good, firm skin with minimal peeling and irritation. Even with nightly use, the sky does not fall and any adverse reaction is easily manageable. It's *amazing* with pores and clarity. It is available to buy here: https://bit.ly/2Emn8nL


*Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Skin Resurfacer is also a strong retinol, this reminds me of Neostrata (see below) I guess because it's also packed with peptides, but not as super-potent. I love it for the price, you really get your money's worth. I always put an oil on top to soothe. The Hydraluron serum, from the same brand, is a good companion to this too. You can find it at lookfantastic and when they are out of stock (which they often are), you can find it here: https://bit.ly/2RY0PbD


* NeoStrata Skin Active Retinol + NAG Complex this is my favourite retinol so far but it's not for the faint of heart. It's very strong but fabulous. You get glass skin with this. You also get peeling and sensitivity in recurrent cycles. Read my recent review for more details: https://bit.ly/2t42hPx. This is one of those expensive products that are worth every dime. Just don't choose it if you're starting out with retinol. It's widely available to buy in pharmacies.

*Roc Pro Correct Anti-Wrinkle Rejuvenating Concentate Intensive I admit Roc is not my favourite brand (in its general category, I like LaRoche Posay and Avene much better), but they have been doing great retinols for years. This product is very good and well priced. This is quite potent but not explosive. The only minus is that I really feel the sun during the daytime, my skin bothers me even with a high SPF. An honest product; it does what it says on the tin. It is widely available to buy in pharmacies.

A wise route to explore for retinol treatments is, of course, the dermatologist. They can advise you on the specific concerns of your skin and prescribe a tretinoin treatment from the pharmacy: VERY affordable (as in just a few euros) but very potent.


As the day gets longer and my face is more exposed to the sun, I will slowly start using products with lower retinol concentrations. Still on the more powerful side, though. Next fall, my must-try is the Medik8 r-Retinoate, a very potent formula that uses a new way of delivering retinol to the skin. I'll keep you posted in due time. You can find it here: https://bit.ly/2E8bXiE

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*photos via cultbeauty spacenk lookfantastic murad medik8

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