retinol 101

Retinol has been deemed the biggest beauty trend of 2022, with a whopping 1.2 billion views on TikTok and over nine million Google searches, consumers are clearly excited about what this star ingredient has to offer, and, like millions of others, we too are sharing in the buzz!

So far, retinol is the most well-known and widely used retinoid derivative, particularly within anti-ageing skincare, thanks to it’s cell renewing and collagen stimulating properties. But what many of us didn’t know is that the ingredient was originally used for treating acne, and now, it seems that retinol is getting its time in the spotlight again with a new audience!


Retinol is a type of retinoid derived from Vitamin A. Other retinoids include, Retinol-esters, Retinaldehyde & Retinoic acid-esters. While some grades are readily available for customers to purchase from skincare brands, other forms need to be prescribed by a doctor. Either way, ‘retinoid’ is the umbrella term for both gentler at-home grades as well as the more potent types only available with prescription. 

For any retinoid to impact our skin, it must first convert into retinoic acid. This is the active form of vitamin A that helps skin to repair and renew at cellular level. 

the retinol coversion process

The strongest Retinoids, like isotretinoin and tretinoin, are pure retinoic acid, which means you’ll start seeing results straight away. However this can come with significant side effects, which is why these types of retinoids can be prescription only.

Retinol Esters, Retinol and Retinaldehyde (retinal) are gentler versions found in many skincare products you can purchase without prescription, but for our skin to benefit from them, they must first be converted into Retinoic Acid. 

The number of conversions required is dependent on type of retinoid used, the closer the compound to retinoid acid, the more readily it converts and more effective it becomes. 

The following steps are required for each of the retinoids:


    Must first convert into retinol, then retinaldehyde, then retinoic acid


    A step closer than retinol esters, retinol converts into retinaldehyde then retinoic acid


    The predecessor of retinoic acid so only requires one conversion 


The number of conversions impacts the time it takes to see results, the fewer the conversions, the quicker the impact to skin. That’s why consistency is key with retinol, as it takes about 12 weeks to start seeing results. Retinaldehyde (Retinal), however, is said to work 11 times fasters, but with this fast action, there is the possibility of more side effects, making it less tolerable across all skin types.

There are other factors that can influence the efficacy of the formulation:


    Everyone is unique, so different people will convert retinoids into retinoid acid at different rates, so results can vary from person to person - what works for your friend, might not work for you


    Different concertation levels will yield different results. The right level for you will depend on your skin needs and tolerability. For retinol, anything above 0.0015% is effective, up to a max level of 0.3% as allowed by UK/ EU (any formula higher than this would need to have additional studies to prove their safety). 


    As some grades of retinol are unstable, it means the active can lose its power over time. Retinol is a fairly unstable chemical, (retinal even more so), so its rarely included as a single molecule in formulations and protection via encapsulation helps to preserve its efficacy over shelf life

In short, neither form of vitamin A is ‘better’, the main difference is the time it will take to see results. Retinol is more stable, cheaper and suitable for most skin types, which is why it tends to be the most popular form of retinoid. 

Benefits of Retinol

Most skin types will benefit from incorporating some form of Vitamin A into their regime because it helps to address a whole host of skin concerns!

Retinol increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen production, which helps to plump skin and minimise fine lines and wrinkles. 

It also tackles pigmentation and uneven skin tone, including dark spots and post blemish marks / scarring. In addition to these skin benefits, it also helps to reduce blemishes & minimise pores, making it a great choice for acne prone skin.

how to use Retinol

When first incorporating into your regime, both Retinol and Retinialdahyde can cause dryness and irritation. 

So start low and go slow. 

Use a lower concentration of retinol 1-2 times per week and increase usage depending on skins tolerance.

We’d recommend using retinol in the evening, on alternative nights to AHA/BHA acids, with Vitamin C application in the morning. This way you’ll maximise effectiveness and minimise irritation.

clear skin days retinol serum

Our serum was created to help bring about brighter, smoother, clearer and more even skin. We used a particular blend of concentrations which deliver amazing skin results whilst minimising any potential side effects.

A little bit about our retinol: We’ve included a 5% Retinol complex, which contains 0.05% pure retinol which is effective and tolerable for most skin types. We selected our retinol because of its enhanced stability profile, which usually results in a more stable and therefore efficacious product in the long run. 

We have used a Cyclosystem Complex in which the retinol is micro-encapsulated in cyclodextrins, protecting it to provide potentiation of its efficiency and controlling its release, prolonging its action time.

We’ve also included 5% Niacinamide. Like retinol, Niacinamide has a whole heap of skin benefits for any skin type, which is why we love it. It’s a great partner to retinol as it helps to balance oil production, even pigmentation, smooth skin and reduce pore appearance.

Finally we’ve also added 5% Morus Alba extract (White Mulberry), like our other actives, this is a tried and tested ingredient to help fade discolouration and uneven skin tone, whilst helping to calm skin for a brighter, more radiant complexion.

So whether you’re wanting to target blemishes & pigmentation, or if dewy, plump skin is you goal, why not try incorporating retinol into your regime!


We hope that you've found this blog helpful - if you have any questions or would like to share your skincare journey with us, we'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch via the form below or by DM on IG. 




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