Retin a is the gold standard in anti-ageing skincare. When used regularly, it can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture and pigmentation, hydrate, and even erase dark spots. However, it’s not for everyone, so before committing to a retinol routine, make sure you have the best product for your skin type.
If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to stick to lower concentration retinol products. Drunk Elephant’s sulphate-free, vegan formula contains 1% retinol, and it is packed full of skin-loving ingredients including shea butter, passionfruit, kale and jojoba oil. It’s also free of all the “suspicious six” (SLS, fragrance, chemical sunscreens, drying alcohols and silicones) and is formulated with retinol-diffusing peptides to calm the skin and prevent redness.
Another high-street favourite is The Ordinary’s 2% retinol serum, which comes in a handy travel-friendly tube and is super easy to incorporate into your existing routine. The serum combines granactive retinol (the 4th generation retinoid that improves hyperpigmentation, reduces fine lines and improves skin texture), and niacinamide to soothe the complexion. The Ordinary also has a higher-concentration 1% retinol serum, but you need to have a consultation with a doctor or dermatologist in order to purchase this in the UK.
For those with a bit more skin maturity, US brand Skinceuticals offer a range of prescription-only products that have up to a 5% concentration of the active ingredient. This powerful overnight moisturiser features an innovative powder chamber that releases a fresh dose of retinol every time you pump the bottle, which means you’ll get a consistent delivery of the key anti-ageing ingredient with each use. This product will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and it will also boost collagen production to smooth the skin and create a firmer, more youthful look.
To buy a higher-strength retinol product in the UK, you’ll need to have a medical consultation with a GP or dermatologist before you can purchase it from a pharmacy. This can be done in person, or you can do an online consultation with a service like UK Meds. The consultation will check whether you’re suitable for this medication and ensure you receive your products quickly and efficiently.
You should only use a prescription-only retinol product as instructed, and always start with the lowest strength your doctor prescribes. You should also avoid using other products that cause peeling, such as benzoyl peroxide, sulphur, resorcinol and salicylic acid, while using a retinol cream or gel. If you do use other products that cause peeling, you should wait until the effects of those treatments have worn off before applying your retinol. Once you’ve built up a tolerance to the active ingredient, you can increase your usage as advised by your dermatologist or GP. retin a uk