Retinol. There truly is no ingredient in skincare that is more lauded. It’s the only skincare solution that’s proven to prevent fine lines and effectively treat a multitude of conditions including enlarged pores, acne, pigmentation, redness and dull, lacklustre skin.

Despite the popularity and intrigue of this youth-enhancing active, it often mystifies or even terrifies many beauty buyers, meaning it’s usually misused or underutilised.

Here at INÈS we truly believe in the wonders of this powerhouse skincare ingredient and know it can give impressive results if used correctly …. Here we break down everything you need to know about this holy-grail ingredient and how to incorporate it into your routine for optimum results.

"Retinol is one of my favourite ingredients because it works deep below the skin at the cellular level to encourage turnover and reveal fresh, bright skin - retinol promotes healing and cellular repair on a more detail-oriented, microscopic scale. - SHANI DARDEN”."


‘Retinoids’ is the umbrella term for all vitamin A derivatives that are available in over the counter anti-ageing formulas.

Retinol, alongside other retinoids such as retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate, are essentially derivatives of vitamin A, which is one of the body’s key nutrients for boosting cell turnover. It’s added to topical skincare products to promote skin renewal, brighten skin tone, reduce acne and boost collagen production as well as functioning like an antioxidant to help fight free radical damage which leads to visible signs of ageing. It works by speeding up the turnover of dead skin cells, making way for fresh new cells to rise the surface.


Up until your early 30’s, your cells turn over every 28 days creating a fresh layer of skin but after you hit your mid 30’s your cell regeneration slows down, turning over every 50, 60 or 70 days. And that slower cell regeneration is what causes your face to look dry, dull and wrinkled.

Because retiniods work on a cellular level (not just topically as most products do) it deeply resurfaces skin, which can completely transform complexions over time. By absorbing into the skin and stimulating cell turn over, retinoids encourage your body to create new, fresh skin, and over time (at least three months of consistent use) you’ll start to see reduction in fine lines, dark spots, and acne as well as brightening the skin.

And because retinoids stimulate cell turn over, which increase collagen and elastin production – they also help plump skin, clear and shrink pores and fade and reduce redness.

"It’s a true multi-tasker and has so many amazing benefits…It boosts collagen in the skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, smooths the texture of the skin, reduces pigmentation, and it can also help with acne.- SHANI DARDEN"


If you're interested in treating or taking preventive measures for wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, scarring then your late 20s or early 30s is a great age to start with an over-the-counter retinol

It’s always best to start with the gentlest of retinoids, like retinyl palmitate or sensitive or dry skin or retinol which is the next strongest and most tolerable for all other skin types.

Regardless of which retinoid you choose – they’re all effective in the long run. Studies have shown that you’ll reap the long term anti-aging effects over time with a low-strength retinoid as you would a moderate-strength retinoid.

We believe consistently using a mild retinol is best practice - a little everyday as opposed to overwhelming the skin with harsh products is most effective. Hence why Shani Dardens Retinol Reform (formulated with retinol) & Texture Reform (formulated with Retinyl palmiate) comes at our highest recommendation. Both formulations are incredibly effective yet gentle enough for daily for use without any down time.

TIP: If you have extremely dry or sensitive skin opt for Texture Reform


Because retinoids cause skin to shed cells faster than normal, you may experience a few weeks of flakiness, dryness, irritation and or breakouts, until your skin gets through the adjustment period.

Here are our top tips to mitigate the effects.

1. Choose a gentle formula and start slowly, Use a 1-2 pumps of serum once a week initially for about 1 week, twice a week for two weeks, 3 times a week for 3 weeks then every other night indefinitely.

2. Consistency is KEY. Using a retinol most nights is what will give you the best and long-term results. Retinol works to change your skin at a cellular level so if you don’t use it routinely, your skin will go back to baseline.

That being said, don’t load up your skin with retinol to speed up the process, you’ll only irritate the skin. Instead go slow and steady

3. Alternate with other active products. We always advise not to use acids, acne products or peels on your face on the nights you use retinol – as you’ll risk irritating or burning the skin.

TIP: Never skip your SPF. Retinoids can make skin extra sensitive to the sun causing sunburn or worse discolouration. Ensure you wear a SPF 40 or higher everyday and reapply through the day.

NOTE: Retinol is not advised if pregnant or breastfeeding

- Words by Zoë Philpott -


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