Everything You Need to Know About Retinol Skincare



If you haven’t tried retinol, it’s time for all you retinol newbies to take the plunge

Retinol (aka: Vitamin A) is being rated one of the single most important skincare ingredients you can use on your skin, to truly turn back the clock in skin ageing.

But what exactly is it?

Retinol works by speeding up the skin cell turnover through chemical exfoliation. Or put simply, it removes dead skin cells without having to scrub at your skin with a gritty, grainy exfoliant.

The results of regularly using a retinol for many can mean reduced acne, fewer fine lines and wrinkles, an even skin tone and better hydration in the skin. This is because retinol can also enhance collagen production, smoothing out the skin and reducing hyperpigmentation.

The discovery of retinol began in 1971, when famous American Dermatologist Dr Albert M Kligman from the University of Pennsylvania discovered Retinoid Acid (Tretinoin) worked wonders for the treatment of Acne.

It was marketed by Johnson & Johnson under the brand name of Retin-A and was incredibly effective in the treatment of acne and can still be found in the market as a prescription treatment more than forty nine years on.

Since then Retinols have come a long way, making a popular appearance in many well-known skincare brands such as UK skincare brand MEDIK8 and Spanish skincare brand Mesoestetic.

When Retinols were first released into the market, it was always recommended for use in the PM only as it could cause photosynthesis in the skin. Which is when the skin becomes light sensitive, especially with UV rays. Meaning you couldn’t go out into the sun after applying to the skin.

The best retinol for sensitive skin:

First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Retinol Serum .25% Pure Concentrate RRP $91

A superb retinol serum for newbies and sensitive skin types. The results will be smoother and softer skin and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles after only a fews days of using. It contains only .25% retinol making it super gentle for the skin.

The best retinol for combination and sensitive skin:

Biossance Squalene + Phyto-Retinol Serum RRP $112

Perfect for retinol newbies, this product is made from Bakuchiol, which is a plant-derived retinol ingredient. It’s lightweight and can be use morning and night with other products without causing skin irritation.

Many brands have developed new technologies with retinol making it safer for any skin type, without the risk of irritation.

One challenge with retinol, is there is very little information and direction on how to start introducing it into a skincare routine.

Apart from the basic hot-to directions on the bottle of whatever product you pick up with retinol in it, there is no real guide on how to use it and why.

And unless you sit down with a skincare specialist it’s a difficult decision to make to start introducing retinol into daily skincare routine. This is especially true for sensitive skin types, who are more than likely to be apprehensive to use anything which may trigger a bad skin irritation.

The best retinol for veteran retinol users:


Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum Fragrance Free RRP $41.99

Made with a blend of Niacinamide + Retinol complex, this NEW retinol serum penetrates deep into skin’s surface layers to treat fine lines & wrinkles, smooth and brighten skin, reduce dark spots and cleanse pores.

Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturiser Fragrance Free RRP $41.99

Made with the same blend of Niacinamide + Retinol complex used in the night serum, this NEW moisturiser hydrates skin for 24 hours and increases natural moisture absorption in the skin, allowing skin to breath and stay well hydrated.

This retinol products is NOT for sensitive skin:

Skinstitute Retinol Serum RRP $49

This serum is a potent rich formula of vitamin A and may irritate anyone with very sensitive skin. It is highly recommended to treat acne scarring, breakouts and premature ageing and best suited for older skin types less prone to skin irritations.

My first experience using retinol was a year ago and since then, I have never looked back.

I’m lucky enough not to have sensitive skin and rarely react to anything new or harsh on my skin. Though even if I did react, I probably wouldn’t know, as I love the burning sensation of using intense enzyme masks as they work to remove dead skin cells, and even more so the feeling of having a microdermabrasion treatment, which for most people would feel like rough sand paper being dragged across their skin. But I love it.

So when I first used retinol, I didn’t really look into it too much. No baby steps here. I applied it every evening after cleansing and when I woke in the morning. I saw a noticeable oil balance in the skin, meaning my t-zone wasn’t as greasy as it normally is when I wake, and my skin looked dewy and well hydrated.

If you’re still apprehensive about using retinol, the best advice which was passed on to me by my beauty therapist when asking how a newbie should introDuce this magical product into their skincare routine, is to start small.

Try using a retinol product at night and only once or twice a week to see how your skin responds. Follow with a slow increase to three times a week, then four and so on.

There are some retinol products which can be used for the AM, though my beauty therapist suggests for newbies it’s best to stick to PM products only to ensure your skin doesn’t respond in the day with any irritation when using foundation or other skin products on top of a retinol product.

Note: When you begin your retinol journey, there are few skincare products to steer clear from such as acne medicated creams which often contain a high dose of salicylic acid benzoyl peroxide, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids. If you have sensitive skin, it is always best to check with an expert before trying something new.

My Favourite Beauty Product of the Week:

Vani-T Australia Bronzing Custard RRP $33.50

It looks like a bronzer, it works like a bronzer, but it certainly doesn’t smell or feel like one.

This fabulous bronzing custard for the body is more of a moisturiser than a tanning lotion and makes a great replacement for your daily moisturiser. The texture is soft and oily and absorbs fast into the skin.

With a hint of self-tanning agent blended with shea butter and nourishing botanical oils such as Kakadu Plum, Vitamin C and Vitamin A & E, skin is well nurtured and well hydrated whilst skin begins to glow with a sun kissed tan.

I used this bronzer at night only and follow it with a regular moisturiser in the morning not my body to create a soft glow.

Warning: This product is super addictive with a subtle tropical coconut scent which is not overpowering.

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Rebecca Wilkinson


Say hello to Bondi Beauty's Beauty Columnist. Rebecca is a pescatarian, who may yet become vegan. She loves all things beauty, health & travel with a weakness for coffee. If she's not answering her mobile - it's probably because she's trying out the latest beauty craze like ice baths or rubbing smashed avo on her face. We know, what a waste of smashed avo. Reach out to her with your beauty questions.

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