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6 of the best retinols

Retinol is hailed by dermatologists as the gold standard in anti-aging – and with good reason. SUZANNE SCOTT uncovers the best


The word retinol has become a blanket term for a handful of vitamin-A derivatives (including retinoids) which, when it comes to softening lines and improving skin tone and firmness, dermatologists agree are the most hardworking anti-aging ingredients at our disposal. But which is right for you?

BEST FOR FADING PIGMENTATION Lixirskin Night Switch Retinol 1%

Sun is good for the soul but less so for our skin, as too much UV can result in patches of unwanted pigmentation. Add this lightweight serum to your overnight moisturizer (one pump for your face and a further pump for your neck and décolletage) every evening for four weeks. The retinol starts to break down excess pigmentation and helps to prevent new clusters from forming. Team it with a high-factor SPF for day.

BEST FOR SOFTENING LINES Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Overnight Serum

Retinol has been shown to boost collagen production and improve hydration over time, which equals less obvious lines and wrinkles. Dr. Gross has teamed retinol with ferulic acid and niacinamide to strengthen the skin and plump it up so that wrinkles become shallower. It’s a winning combination. Pat a pump or two onto cleansed skin twice a day – don’t forget your eye area, where ‘crow’s feet’ are likely to lurk – and follow with moisturizer.

BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN 111Skin Aqua Physics Defence Cream

There is usually a ‘bedding in’ phase with retinol, where skin can be dry and flaky for a few weeks. However, some sensitive skins may find the irritation too much. Sound familiar? Try this silky, vitamin E-rich lotion; it contains retinyl palmitate, which is gentler than other types of retinol.

BEST FOR HANDS Eve Lom Time Retreat Hand Treatment

Hands are often overlooked in our skincare regimes but they are one of the first areas of the body to show signs of premature aging, with crepey texture and pigmentation at the top of the list of potential issues. The retinol in this lotion fades dark spots and boosts collagen production to re-plump the skin.

BEST FOR REDUCING INFLAMMATION Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil

The retinol in this all-natural face oil has been coupled with arnica to reduce redness and bring down inflammation. Place a few drops into the palms of your hands, rub them together and then press onto cleansed skin before bed. The oil is really hydrating and comforting, so you shouldn’t need to follow it with moisturizer.

BEST FOR REDUCING DARK CIRCLES KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask

Under-eye dark circles can be difficult to treat as their cause is often hereditary, so while retinol is unlikely to completely fade them, it will make them lighter and less noticeable. Treat yours with these intensive masks (don’t let their cuteness detract from their anti-aging credentials). Pop them onto cleansed skin – the star should rest over your laughter lines – and allow the retinol to do its thing for 10-15 minutes. There’s also a healthy dose of hyaluronic acid to hydrate and fill out the skin.


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