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Ahhh retinol, arguably the most tip-toed around ingredient in a skincare product you can get. To keep it simple, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. It’s one of the only skincare ingredients that has been scientifically shown to be “anti-ageing” by proving it can reduce the appearances of fine lines, rebuild collagen and repair sun damage.

The key with retinol is to start small and ease your skin into the different strength formulas to build up tolerance. I’ve known many people who didn’t do their research, picked up a high strength, over-the-counter retinol and be (quite literally) scarred from using it after having a bad reaction. It’s strong shit, so handle with care.

The Ordinary have the perfect range to start you off on your retinol journey, I began with the retinol 0.2% with squalane and am now towards the end of my 0.5% strength bottle. The hit of squalane acts like a nourisher, protecting the skins lipid barrier and is a welcome contradiction to the harshness of the retinol.

Instructions advise to apply a small amount the face as part of your evening skincare regimen, after water-based serums but before heavier treatments – don’t use with other retinols, this is general rule of thumb with most retinoid products.

The Ordinary Retinol: Products


  • I’ll preface this with stating both these formulas are quite weak forms of retinol. My objective when purchasing these was to build my up skins tolerance rather than expecting to see breath-taking results. Both strengths were perfect for this and neither irritated my skin nor caused any reaction, despite it being my first time using a retinol.

  • Both serums were a lot oiler than I expected them to be, leaving me pleasantly surprised by how nourishing it felt. My skin never felt stripped or dry which can happen if it reacts badly with the retinol.

  • I believe there has been a reduced appearance of fine lines around the creases of my eyes, and my hyper-pigmentation has faded. The latter could be due to the shear lack of sun we get here in the UK however I’m not ruling out this serum played a part in the process.

  • The brilliant price makes it accessible for anyone.

The Ordinary Retinol: Text


  • If you steer clear of oily products as a rule then this one might not be for you. Jojoba oil is high up on the ingredients list and the texture is more like a facial oil than a serum.

  • As mentioned above, I wasn’t expecting life-changing results, however the results I did see were far and few between.

The Ordinary Retinol: Text


Did I like it? Yes, there wasn’t much not to like – I wouldn’t say I loved it though either, the results were nondescript.

Price? £4.90 for 30ml

Would I repurchase? No. It’s satisfied my needs and I’m ready to move not something with more of a kick. I’d still recommend this as a retinol building block, or one to use in your mid to late twenties before you really need to up the ante.

Average online review ratings out of 5: 4 The Ordinary, 4.4 Google, 4.4 Boots

The Ordinary Retinol: Text
The Ordinary Retinol: Text
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