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We're back with another Trinny London review (if you missed my previous instalments, catch up here) and this time we're talking retinoids. This launch really stood out to me as both formulas contain retinal - which is my personal favourite Vitamin A derivative (and you can find out why by checking out this post). But in short: it's my perfect combination of those retinoid results (reversing signs of photoageing, improving fine lines and helping with acne and texture) with minimal irritation / side-effects. Plus I feel the results are faster than with retinol. All that being said: let's dive into the two options Trinny has released...
I'll start with the stronger of the two, which is a bit rogue, but you'll see why! The Overnight Sensation Retinal + Serum* | £69 | combines retinal with granactive retinoid. Granactive retinoid is a retinoic acid ester, so is generally used in higher concentrations than retinol or retinal, but it's geared towards being very gentle on the skin whilst still delivering great results. There isn't a percentage concentration advertised on the packaging but my understanding is that this is a total of 0.25% when you combine both retinoids together (another creator emailed the brand and messaged me to let me know). However, I twigged from the name and the product description that this was intended to be the punchier of the two options; designed for mature skin and seasoned retinoid pros.
As with all of the Trinny London products: you twist the base and the pump pops right up. The products are all refillable too, so you can save a little on your repurchase by just buying the inner cartridge when it's time for a top-up. The product comes out as a dark yellow colour, which is really what you want with a retinal product. I'd say it's a thicker than a traditional serum but a little lighter than a moisturiser so if you're oily you could probably get away with using this alone. It's formulated with humectants (water magnets) like glycerin, lots of great moisturisers like fatty alcohol, sunflower seed oil, squalane, Vitamin E (also an antioxidant) and jojoba seed oil. We also have probiotic ingredients to help support the skin barrier and a little bit of enzyme exfoliation, which can help with penetration of the active ingredients.
In terms of my experience with this formula - as a heads up - I do find it can pill a little, so I'd keep other leave-on steps to a minimum when you're using this and avoid facial oils. You shouldn't need much else with a stronger active like this, but just in case you like to layer hydration on before using your retinoid: I don't recommend that with this product. However, in terms of efficacy, I used this for 2.5 months or so and really liked the results and how gentle the formula was. Bearing in mind that my skin is used to retinoids and this product is geared towards more advanced skincare users, I didn't find it irritating for my skin and didn't experience peeling or purging whilst using this formula (both common retinoid side-effects). The fast results and minimal fallout in return for them is one of the major reasons I love retinal. For me, it's more about whether a product is worth sacrificing my usual routine for when it comes to testing their efficacy; I've tried weaker retinol formulas and have found myself craving my usual retinoid within a few weeks because my skin just wasn't looking its best any more, however I stuck with this, enjoyed using it and felt it maintained my results. I love that it's in this moisturising base too, because I think that really does take some of the edge off a strong formula. I still recommend building up from once-weekly use to nightly if you can get there or somewhere inbetween if not.
There's also the Overnight Clarity Retinal / Niacinamide Serum* | £62 | which is a little milder, a little lighter and a little more geared towards acne-prone skin with its added active. This apparently contains 0.15% retinal - which is still pretty punchy - paired with niacinamide (I don't have any information on its concentration but I would like to hope it's in the sweet spot of 2-5% so it's effective but doesn't put your skin through too much) which is a fantastic all-rounder. Niacinamide is great for: a) boosting up barrier function by encouraging the skin to produce a fundamental component of it (ceramides), and so it's a great counter for a stronger ingredient like a retinoid, b) it can help regulate oil production in the skin, indirectly reducing the likelihood of breakouts, and c) it can help prevent the spread of discolouration through the skin so your spot doesn't turn into an even bigger scar. So - with the acne and texture-fighting properties of retinoids, alongside their well-ageing benefits - it's a really powerful pairing for oily / spot-prone skin. If you're a little older but you're still on the oily side of things or even if you're experiencing menopause-related acne: this is a perfect blend of something that can help reverse signs of ageing whilst tackling the breakouts.
In terms of other ingredients, we have azelaic acid (which is great for redness and discolouration), probiotic ingredients again and not quite as many of those rich moisturisers and oils, which makes it a little bit more oily-skin-friendly as it creates a slightly lighter serum-lotion. I personally enjoyed using this product a little more than the Retinal+ as it doesn't pill with any other products I'm using and it combines two amazing active ingredients so there's not really much need to layer with it, anyway. It's still very effective, still very gentle and gives me none of the retinoid drawbacks with all of the results as well as doing that anti-blemish and dark spot-reduction work in the background. Surprisingly, this is my favourite of the two and I've been loving using it!
Have you tried these products or retinal skincare more generally?