What Is Retinol Serum?

Retinol Serum is an absolute game changer in the skincare world. You’ve probably heard about retinol serums but not sure what retinol serum is.

If you read the skin care routine steps post, you’ll know it’s a night cream but here are the essentials you need to know.

It’s great for deep wrinkles, mature skin, acne prone skin, pigmented skin, uneven skin tone and now even dry skin.


Why Retinol Is One of The Most Powerful Products

Retinol is referred to as the skincare product that can turn back time – the miracle wonder product. The powerful products are produced in the form of a cream, lotion, or gel that contain medicine derived from Vitamin A. Retinols are a weaker type of topical retinoids.

As mentioned in the skincare routine steps post, serums are more powerful than creams as they get into the deeper layers of the skin. Retinol serums and creams boost skin cell turnover which has a number of benefits for dry skin and oily skin and aging skin in particular.


Retinol Benefits:

  • Smooths skin texture
  • Boosts Collagen Production
  • Decreases fine lines & deep wrinkles
  • Improves uneven skin tone
  • Diminishes dark age spots
  • Clears acne & blemishes
  • Unclogs pores
  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Lightens and brightens dull skin
  • Helps to control skin oil production
  • Leaves skin looking healthier

Basically everything you would want a skin product to do essentially. That’s why the best skincare brands usually have their form of retinol.

Retinol has proven to be one of the most effective topical anti-aging skincare products, after sun protection.

I would advise using sunscreen at least the day after using retinol to protect your skin and prevent any retinol risks from incorrect use.

Retinoid Risks

With them being such powerful products, the highest percent you’ll usually see in none-prescription skincare is up to 1%.

But still, any type of retinoid can irritate your skin. Some side of effects of using Retinol if used incorrectly are redness, peeling and irritation.

That is why it’s very important to use them with correctly to get optimal results. Use with precaution especially if you have very sensitive skin or prone to flare-ups, introduce it to your skincare routine slowly, even once a week before gradually increasing it twice a week.

Retinol is not recommended for the Pregnant or breastfeeding women

Retinol alternatives are also available for those who would like to avoid the potential risks. See below for organic retinol alternative recommendation.

How to use Retinol Effectively

As it increases the skin’s cells turnover, its intended for night use as the new skin is very delicate and should not be exposed to the sun. The retinol potency is also broken down when exposed to the sun and air.

It’s best to introduce retinol into your skin care twice a week and the pea-sized amount rule does apply. Replace retinol with your night moisturizer twice a week, using no other serums before it.

Reduce to once a week if irritation occurs.

After a few weeks, you can increase to every other day if your skin has tolerated it well.

Personally, I stick to twice a week, and it still makes a noticeable difference.

The Top 5 Retinol Serums


1. SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3, £65


Best for first time users and oily skin.

America’s Number 1 Medical Aesthecian Skincare brand does the best Retinol Cream – a lightweight, smooth night cream. Retinol 0.3% is ideal for first time retinol users. If you have used Retinol before, Retinol 0.5% and Retinol 1% is available.

The first retinol cream I’d used. I stuck to using it twice a week, and it made a difference overnight. After the first time using it, my skin looked clearer and younger. A must have for first time retinol users.

what is retinol serum

2. Elizabeth Arden Line Erasing Retinol Ceramide 60 Capsules, £46.50 – £72


Best for dry skin.

Elizabeth Arden has done it again. How beautiful will that go with your skincare stand. The encapsulated serum drops are not only easy on the eyes, but they also practically keep the retinol air tight, keeping it fresh and 76% more potent than unencapsulated retinol according to their website.

Plus it helps you to use just that pea sized amount for a longer lasting product.

Unlike some retinol’s that can dry out your skin, these clinically approved and Reese Witherspoon-approved capsules contain ceramides to help maintain your skin’s natural moisture barrier. One of those products that makes you sad when it runs out.

what is retinol serum

3. La Roche-Posay Redermic R, £37.99 – £39.96


Best for sensitive skin.

The award-winning La Roche Retinol is a light gel/serum texture that’s has to be up here with the rest for the more affordable price and especially formulating it for sensitive skin. A smooth serum that contains 0.3% retinol.



what is retinol serum

4. Lily Ana Naturals Retinol Cream, £36.28


Best for dehydrated or damaged skin.

Although it says the packaging says day and night cream, I still wouldn’t recommend using it as a day cream as retinol is less potent when exposed to sunlight.

Lily Ana Naturals Retinol is still soothing and healing with its aloe leaf juice extract and moisture-boosting organic jojoba seed oil & hyaluronic acid – ideal ingredients if you wake up with dry skin.


what is retinol serum

5. The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane, £14.99


Best for regular retinol users with dry or dehydrated skin.

This is definitely one to add to your extraordinary Ordinary collection with its 1% pure retinol for an affordable price in return for softening fine lines, fixing pigment problems and revitalizing your skin.

The water-free formulation has been proven to reduce the appearances of fine lines, photo damage and general

skin aging and in Squalance – a chemical the body naturally produce to help moisture too.




Retinol Alternatives


Bakuchiol is the plant-based ingredient that improves skin tone just as effectively as retinol. Without the
peeling, redness and rawness that you can get from retinol use. Bakuchiol is natural option made with a concentration of AHAs (exfoliating acids) that gently improve skin.

Some brands like Paula’s Choice even use both retinol and bakuchiol in their products so read the ingredients carefully before purchasing.



Final Important Note

If you haven’t used high-strength retinol formulas before, make sure you start your retinol skin routine with a low strength of retinol like 0.3% before increasing it to the higher strength of Retinol 1%, to build your skins tolerance to it.

Use wisely.

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6 Replies to “What Is Retinol Serum?”

  1. Hi,

    I didn’t know Retinol was more powerful than normal creams.
    After some research, I found that Retinol serum also clears acne flare-ups, is that correct?
    You mentioned about a natural alternative called Bakuchiol. Would you recommend it over Retinol?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. It is indeed, most serums are more powerfule than creams. That is correct, retinol can clear acne too. I’d only recommend the alternative if you’re pregnant, or worried about irritating your skin as there are low-strength retinols and one availble for sensitive skin as mentioned.

  2. Hi Sammi
    Thanks a lot for this.

    I started using retinol since January but had to stop.

    The reason being that I work alot on my computer.

    I fear that just as the UV Ray’s from the sun is harmful, the
    reflection from computerr screen also does as much damage as the sunlight.

    Can you please advice as me on what to do?
    Thank you

    1. Ahh yes, that’s right. The blue light from our screens is damaging for our skin too. You can read more about it on another post. I would advise you use one of the Retinol alternative mentioned above, containing Bakuchiol instead of retinol. Thank you for your comment.

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