Lets talk: My top 5 Retinol products for all budgets and skin types

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I believe that everyone should incorporate a Retinol into their skincare routine and am sharing some of my favourite Retinol products for all budgets and skin types. Retinol is Your  best friend, the one product guaranteed not to let you down, as long as you choose the correct “version” for you.

top 5 retinol products

What is a Retinol? Well, Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that works at every level of the skin. It can break up pigmentation, it  helps amazingly with fine lines and wrinkles, boosts Collagen, makes your skin better at hydrating itself and speeds up skin cell turnover. It is pretty darn amazing and is the most incredible active ingredient that has clinical evidence to prove all of the above. But knowing which strength to use how and when is important for your skin type and age. With variations from Retinyl Palmitrate, Retinol and prescription only Retin-A, it is important to start gently and build slowly, depending on your age, skin type and concern.

It is best not to layer a Retinol product with a Glycolic or Vitamin C and to use on different nights, but always always use a spf the following day. Not only does this protect the strength of Retinol that you are using (as it breaks down in the sun) but obviously also protects your skin. The best advise really, when it comes to retinol products is to start slowly and build up. Retinol products can be expensive but I have some formulas that I use regularly and use, and they vary in price and are suitable for many different levels of skin. Whether you are starting in your twenties as a preventative measure, or want something more hardcore in you forties and beyond, heres some of my favourites listed below.


The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% ( now called Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion) 30ml £8.00

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

This really is such a great Retinol and for the price it is absolutely outsanding. The only thing that is a slight bug bear of mine is the packaging as I do find an airtight pump or tube better to stop air and sunlight getting in. BUT, all that aside, this can offer exceptional results when used regulary and as directed. You need only a few drops of this yellow liquid, applied to the face, neck, chest and hell even the back of the hands every night to see results.  Containing two next generation retinoids that are more effective than a retinol, this takes a no nonsense approach to skincare. The packaging is basic so that the product doesn’t have to be. Whilst I love this light weight serum as a great entry point into “Retinols” and it does feel amazing on the skin,  I want to make sure I am keeping my Retinol fresh and away from sun and air so prefer a pump dispenser as opposed to a pippet. For me this is a great and very inexpensive way to slather a Retinol over my decolette to help with sun damage. Also an affordable and effective one to apply to the back of the hands to help with age spots. I mean at £8 a bottle its rude not to.


Pixi Retinol & Jasmine Flower Advanced Youth Preserving Toner 100ml £10.00

Pixi Retinol & Jasmine Flower Advanced Youth Preserving Tone

Released late 2018, this is a beautiful product and one I admit to using often. This toner is so gentle and light that it can be used every evening, after cleansing, with absolutely no reaction or down time. This multi action toner contains time release Retinol that boosts the skin with powerful antioxidants. It feels wonderfully fresh and cool on the skin and gave me exceptional results on my forehead lines when I first started using it. I literally used this every evening, as a toner, for 4 weeks when I first received it, and my forehead lines were visibly reduced!! I adore this product, have repurchased and recommend to family  and think it is a wonderful addition to my skincare regime. I think it’s perfect for anyone that wants something gentle that they can swipe over the skin every evening, without thinking or worrying about any side effects. If you have acne, or suffer from blemishes and inflammation, the Jasmine flower inclusion is wonderful at softening and comforting the skin, whilst also adding a brightening effect. If you love anything botanical, then this is the one for you.


*Skinsense Anti-Ageing Retinol Serum 30ml  £28 – (Price exclusive to QVCUK launching Feb 1st 2018 as a Beauty Pick of The Month whilst stocks last )

Skinsense Anti-Ageing Retinol Serum 30ml £28

Skinsense is a brand I talk about often on my blog (HERE & HERE) because I absolutely adore the range. So imagine my delight when I was sent the new Retinol product to try. Combining active encapsulated Retinol with additional ingredients proven to hydrate and improve the skins texture, this is a wonderful serum base that can be used every day. Taking the more gentler approach to Retinol at just 0.3% concentration, this does deliver great results for first time users, without any sensitivity issues. All Skinsense products harness the lamellar technology which keeps actives locked into the skin for up to 10 hours, making this product wonderfull at not only working on fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage, but also locking in that all important hydration and not stripping the skin. Taking the gentle approach is the way forward when using Retinol for the first time and this is a great entry point system to start with, or even one to use as a daily top up for hardened Retinol lovers. Happily, this comes in great packaging with an airtight pump which protects the formula from damage by the sun and air. If you want to use a Retinol but it makes you nervous, Skinsense have taken all the worry out with this new launch Retinol Serum and created an affordable serum that is a joy to use, whilst giving those benefits of a Retinol addition. I adore the way it gives my skin that almost glass like finish, especially across my forehead, it really does leave my skin super smooth.


Sunday Riley Luna 15ml £45

Sunday Riley Luna 15ml

An absolute Cult Classic that is loved by celebrities and beauty journalists alike is Sunday Rileys Luna Sleeping Night Oil. I adore this product purely for how incredible it feels on my dehydrated, parched skin. This next generation Retinoid  rich, blue oil immediately melts into the skin when you apply it onto clean dry skin at night time. It works hard at reducing any redness, calming any inflamed skin, and speeding up the cell renewal process to fix and mend, damaged skin. Whether this is sun damage, illness, pollution, anything that affects our skin, this can smooth and calm it all down and believe me, you literally wake up with amazingly flawless, deeply hydrated, nourished skin.  However, and there is a however, although Luna has a higher rate of Retinol and is clinically proven to improve fine lines in 4 weeks (yay), it does contain a lot of essential oils. Whilst this makes it very gentle to use, offers a great slip factor and looks and smells pretty, it can be a concern for anyone with sensitivity caused by essential oils. The only other thing i am not thrilled about is that, again, it is a dropper applicator, which can eventually let air in so be quick when opening and closing the bottle. Great if you love the luxurious feel and branding.

*Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum 30ml £70.00

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

Ok, OK, I hear you. Yes this is an expensive product, but if you love a fully comprehensive, Doctor lead, dermatologist brand, then you cannot go worth with this Retinol product from Murad. I have been sent this in PR recently, but last year I did also purchase with my own money! I love the packaging, I love the juice, I don’t love the price tag so much but hey, what you gonna do? For me, this is the one I love to do a course of after Summer and then move on to the others. I don’t actually know the Retinol percentage in this product and couldn’t find anything mentioning it, but with this its about the formula and not the percentage and for some reason my skin loves it and shows the effects within two weeks. Now, I use Retinol often and have done for years so different brands perform differently on me and whilst all of the above offer results, this is the one I turn to when I want a course of action. So for one month after the Summer , it is this. Immediately my skin looks better, feels plumper and juicer and, thanks to the time release formulation included the fine lines and wrinkles appear less pronounced within two weeks and more so over time. I do feel it tingle slightly at times, which is no bother, and have found that if I use it in Winter my skin feels a touch dry, so October time is my preference. The packaging is great, one pump of the bright yellow light  lotion is more than enough for the face and neck and it does feel beautiful on. If you are in your 40’s and your budget allows, this is wonderful.


All of the above are products I have in my routine, for different times of year or for differences in my skin,  and purchase and repurchase (with the exception of Skinsense which is a new launch, however I have been using it since the end of last year and will most definitely repurchase). I believe that it is slow and steady wins the race with Retinols. You can go the prescription route and some people do so because they need to, but there are only some many times your skins cells will turnover, and I don’t want my face to peel off hahaha (it wont). Every single product listed above works wonderfully and it is just a case of choosing your budget, your base preference ( ie toner, lotion, serum, oil) and doing a bit of research. I hope I have helped you with your choice. P.S. ALWAYS USE AN SPF DAILY


If you have a Retinol that you love and have seen exceptional results from, do let me know as I am always in the market for new skincare. I would love to know your thoughts on this post and if you found it helpful so please leave me a comment below.


Items marked with a * were sent to me in PR







  1. February 1, 2019 / 11:53 am

    I have the Luna but I’m not convinced my skin likes it,so I’m keen to try other versions, what a great list for me to try.

  2. February 1, 2019 / 3:24 pm

    Ooooh I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for being so informative. I love your new blog layout as well xx

  3. Erin
    February 1, 2019 / 10:31 pm

    I love both the pixi one and the Luna oil, both are incredible!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

  4. Lucy
    February 2, 2019 / 8:39 pm

    Great and informative. I think I might try the Skinsense one although recently I think my skin reacted badly to Skinsense daily moisturiser. Defo going to try retinol now though. xxx Lucy xxx

  5. Tara
    February 5, 2019 / 6:34 pm

    I have been using pixi retinol as part of my routin (thanks to your recomendation) since the begining of Jan and have deffinstely seen results in finer lines and less redness.

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