Learn all about this wonder ingredient & the tips for doing retinol *right*

This article is sponsored by Elizabeth Arden

Looking to try retinol, but not sure where to start? Or maybe you’re yet to find a retinol that works for you?

We’ve got the lowdown on what retinol is, how to incorporate it into your routine and the one to try from Elizabeth Arden. (Spoiler alert: it’s great for first-time users and gentle enough for both day and night!).

What is retinol?

In the skincare world, the word ‘retinol’ is often used as a catch-all for products containing a retinoid.

Retinoids come from vitamin A and there are many different types, all with different strengths. Retinol is actually just one type of retinoid, but you may have heard of others such as retinal, retinyl palmitate or retinoic acid, too.

Considered a ‘gold standard’ of skincare, retinol can really work wonders, which is why this popular ingredient has made its way into so many skincare products in recent years.

What are the benefits of retinol?

The real question is, “what benefits doesn’t retinol have?”. It really is an all-rounder that works by increasing the rate of skin cell turnover and promoting the production of collagen. Because of this, retinol helps exfoliate the skin and unclog pores whilst improving the look of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and pigmentation. Trust us, the hype is real!

Are there any side effects of retinol?

The reason retinol works so well is because it’s a powerful ingredient, even at the lower strengths. However, a lot of people are hesitant to start using it because of rumours about the ‘retinol reaction’ in the beginning stages. This can include temporary dryness, redness and irritation as your skin adjusts to a new active ingredient. 

But don’t let that scare you away, as not all retinols cause a reaction. Today’s formulas have come a long way and contain a sophisticated blend of ingredients to counteract the typical reaction. Using the right formula in the right way can lead you on the road to retinol success. Here’s how:

6 tips for how to use retinol

1. Find the right retinol for you

A quick glance down the skincare aisles and it’s clear to see that retinol is everywhere. It’s in serums, eye creams, moisturisers – you name it!

A good retinol formula will have a strength that’s powerful enough to reap all the benefits, but gentle enough to be well-tolerated by skin. Retinol is even more comfortable when it’s cushioned by soothing, hydrating and barrier-repairing ingredients which help protect against irritation. So look out for things like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

If you’re a newbie to retinol or you’ve tried other retinols before and haven’t got on with them, then look no further than this gem from Elizabeth Arden.

Try: Elizabeth Arden Retinol + HPR Ceramide Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream

• Size: 50ml

• Non-comedogenic

• Suitable for all skin types

Delivering next-level retinol action without the typical retinol reaction, this potent yet gentle moisture cream leaves skin feeling nourished whilst looking radiant and revitalised after the very first use. The best part? 100% agree it's more comfortable on skin, even first-time retinol users.*

It’s formulated with pure retinol plus HPR, a next-generation retinoid, that both work to visibly reduce wrinkles, firm and restore radiance to skin in just one week.**

This light-as-air cream is also packed with barrier-strengthening ceramides, plumping hyaluronic acid and skin-soothing botanicals, making it gentle enough for both day and night-time usage. It’s all you could need in a retinol formula for glowing, healthy-looking skin.

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s why others are loving it, too…

“This is an absolutely fantastic retinol water cream!! I have never experienced anything quite like it! It’s extremely gentle, incredibly hydrating, moisturizing leaving my skin beyond smooth! It adds the most incredible glow as well.”

(Kalasmom3 – Review originally posted on elizabetharden.com)

 “I was a bit nervous about trying retinol, but this cream has made me a believer. My skin looks like it's had a serious glow-up! Fine lines look less visible. My complexion? Way more even and radiant. It's like getting a spa-level facial every day!”

(msuzdal – Review originally posted on elizabetharden.com, collected as part of a promotion)

“I’ve been using this cream and it’s amazing. The cream made my face firmer and smooth. Plus, my wrinkles and pores are lighter. If you’re looking for a great face cream you need to get this one, you won’t regret.”

(Millie65 – Review originally posted on elizabetharden.com, collected as part of a promotion)

2. Start slow

Just like your favourite pair of shoes, retinol requires a breaking-in period. Too much too soon is a one-way ticket to dryness and irritation.

As with any new skincare product, it’s recommended to always do a patch test on a small area of skin and wait at least 24 hours before using it all over your face, in case you have any signs of a reaction.

For first-time users, start by using your new retinol twice a week until comfortable. Then increase to every other day, followed by every day when tolerated well.

Most retinols are solely for use at night-time, but the great thing about Elizabeth Arden Retinol + HPR Ceramide Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream is that it’s gentle enough for experienced retinol users to apply it in the day and/or night. Thanks to its hydrating and nourishing ingredients, this one doubles up as your moisturiser, so use it in place of your regular one in your routine.

Don’t forget to listen to your skin and do what feels right for you. If you feel like taking a break, go for it. Retinol has long-term benefits and having a day off here or there isn’t going to reverse all the hard work and results you’ve seen.

3. Wear SPF every day

The No.1 rule to remember when it comes to retinol is to wear a facial SPF during the day. This is because retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, leaving it more open to damage from UV rays.

Even if you don’t use retinol, the importance of wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of minimum SPF30 every day can’t be understated. Still looking for your perfect match? Here are nine of the best daily SPFs and sunscreens for the face.

4.  Avoid layering retinol with other actives

Since retinol is so powerful, it’s best to avoid using it at the same time as other skincare actives such as vitamin C. It also shouldn’t be paired with other exfoliants including physical scrubs and chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid.

Too many actives at once can overload your skin and may make it irritated or lead to a damaged skin barrier. It really is a case of less is more. So, if you’d still like to use other actives and exfoliants in your routine, make sure to do so on an alternate day to retinol and take a break if your skin starts to feel sensitive.

5. Don’t forget your neck

Skincare doesn’t stop at your chin, your neck needs a little TLC, too. Remember to take your Elizabeth Arden Retinol + HPR Ceramide Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream down your neck and onto your décolletage to see the same glowing results as on your face. (The same goes for your SPF in the daytime).

6. Be consistent

Although you should start seeing results from your Elizabeth Arden Retinol + HPR Ceramide Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream in just one week**, retinol needs to be used consistently to maintain all those benefits. Don’t expect to see results if you only use it once in a while. Retinol needs time to work its full magic, so use it as often as comfortable for your skin.

That’s the retinol side of things sorted! Want to complete your skincare routine? Take a look at the full Elizabeth Arden skincare range.

*Based on a consumer study of 74 participants after two weeks.
**Based on an eight-week clinical study of 35 participants. © 2023 Elizabeth Arden