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Understanding Retinol (in a nutshell)

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Oh hey! So, you’ve heard about the wonder product retinol but you have absolutely no idea what it is, how it works or which product to buy? Well, let me help you by answering these questions for you….


What exactly is retinol?

Retinol is a type of retinoid and retinoids are a class of drugs that come from from vitamin A. It has grown in popularity due to its beneficial effects on reducing fine lines, skin tone and acne. Retinol is applied topically (to the skin) and can come as a liquid serum, gel or cream.

How does it work?

· Aging skin produces less collagen which results in fine lines and wrinkles.

· Retinol stimulates fibroblasts, cells deep below the skins surface, which produces more collagen.

· New collagen moves upwards towards the skins surface which increases the rate of the cell turnover.

· Collagen spreads evenly and fresh skin cells emerge lessening the appearance of fine lines.


How and where to start?

Good question. I see retinol products popping up more and more but you don’t often see the percentage of retinol. When starting with a retinol we need to start slow and with a lower concentration (0.01%). If you go hard and fast you may find the following side effects;

· Excessive dryness

· Flushed skin

· Itchy skin

· Scaling of the skin

Apply retinol in the evenings around 20 minutes after cleansing the skin. *PLEASE WEAR SPF IN THE DAY AS RETINOL INCREASES SENSITIVITY IN THE SUN. *


Which Product to buy?

Ok, there are lots of great products and what suits me might not suit you, but I highly recommend the brand Medik8. Not only do they fight for animal rights, but they are also eco-friendly and 100% vegan. Most importantly the whole brand is based on proven science.

I use the Crystal Retinal (a next generation form of retinol). Within this range they have 1/3/6/10.

Crystal Retinal 1 –This contains 0.01% encapsulated retinaldehyde making it perfect for those who have sensitive skin or those who are trying retinol for the first time. Once you have finished this product you can move up to number 3.

Crystal Retinal 3 – This contains 0.03% encapsulated retinaldehyde. Ideal for those who have finished Crystal retinal 1 or other mild retinal formulas. You finish this, guess what, you move onto crystal retinal 6.

Crystan Retinal 6 – This contains 0.06% encapsulated retinaldehyde. Once complete, you got it, crystal retinal 10!

Crystal Retinal 10 – This contains 0.10% encapsulated retinaldehyde. It would be a big mistake to start at this point, please be sensible!


I hope this helps. I do have a discount code at Look Fantastic ‘LFTFGENEVIEVE’ ( A lot of the above (science bit) comes from research by the American Academy of Dermatology Association).

Woman in black clothes, standing in front of white door wearing red lipstick from Charlottte Tilbury
Understanding Retinol

Happy retinol shopping lovely people,

Love Gen x

Genevieve Turley MUA

Freelance Makeup Artist

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