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Retinoids are probably my #1 essential skincare ingredient because of their ability to boost collagen production (which decreases as we age, reducing the plumpness and fullness of our skin over the years), smooth and even out the texture and tone of the skin and help with existing photo ageing. However, for some skin types they can be a little drying and irritating, especially if you're only just getting used to them. During the winter, when our skin is a little bit more sensitive and prone to dryness, I recommend trying out a retinoid oil under your moisturiser...
The original retinoid oil from back in the day is the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil* | £85. This is formulated with cold pressed plant oils for nourishment and antioxidant benefits such as avocado, chia seed, blackberry and grape seed. There's also blue tansy in here, which purportedly can help reduce spot-causing bacterial (though it's an essential oil so I can't recommend it for acne inflammation) and the all-important retinoid: Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (AKA HPR, AKA Granactive Retinoid). This is a retinoic acid ester, meaning it can mirror the effects of top-tier retinoids without the irritation. It's the original; do I still think it's the best? For the price-point, I do think there are comparable overall formulas that are as good as this at a lower cost, but HPR remains a fantastic option for those with a low tolerance to retinoids to maximise their results.
Quite possibly my personal favourite in this category is the PSA Skin Midnight Courage Rosehip & Bakuchiol Retinoid Night Oil | £43. This formula is completely fragrance-free, so if you're sensitive to that: this is the formula for you. It's formulated with fatty acid and antioxidant-rich oils such as rosehip, pomegranate and baobab. Plus you have bakuchiol, an extra that supposedly mimics the effects of retinoids whilst being gentler and pregnancy-safe (more research is needed on this claim), at the same time it can actually help boost the efficacy of your retinoid. This also contains the HPR as its retinoid and the oil base ensures its both gentle and counteracts any dryness. Personally, I love this product and use it on my neck but also on my face when my skin is a little more sensitive but I can't do without my retinoids.
The next product I'm covering today is the Oskia Retinoid Sleep Serum Level 2* | £70 | (though it always annoys me a little when oils are badged as 'serums!) This is a more advanced formula because whilst it contains HPR, like the other products I've discussed, it has some additional actives. It's still gentle, just a little less simple, but great if you're looking for a one-step multi-active oil. We have Provitamin D3 for the skin barrier, an oil-based Vitamin C derivative for its antioxidant and skin-brightening benefits, non-fragrant moisturising oils and coQ10, Vitamin E and turmeric for their antioxidant benefits. If you don't like a complicated routine and you just want to apply your gentle oil-based active and a nice, nourishing moisturiser: this is the option for you. It cuts out having to apply numerous steps and combines your gentle retinoid with some other effective actives to keep your skin plump, radiant and happy.
The final product I have to talk about is the Verso Super Facial Oil* | £110 | which is for the luxury-lovers! This is a lovely lightweight formula with shea butter esters, Vitamin E and... retinyl retinoate, a next-generation retinoid that's very promising; it's not as harsh as traditional retinol but it appears to be even more effective (only requiring one conversion - as opposed to two - in order to become bioavailable to our skin). That's pretty much a win-win for me! The drawback is that this seems to be consistently one of the most expensive retinoid options on the market. But - if you can afford it - this product is lightweight, completely non-irritating to me (even on sensitive areas of my skin, like my neck) and it gives me results; my skin is glowing, smooth and even with regular use.
Have you ever tried a retinoid oil?