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Oh Retinol, where have you been my entire life?

Oh Retinol, where have you been my entire life?

Seeing that I’m very new to this and don’t have the skincare experience of some of the beauties I most admire, I asked my three favourite local beauties for their two cents on Retinol. I also gave three different Retinols a try. Here’s what I found:

Dermaceutic- 0.5% Retinol

I was told by a beauty-wise friend that if I wanted to see instant results, instead of waiting around for improvements, I should turn to Retinol. So that’s what I did, and purchased my first (0.5% strength) batch from the Swiss cosmeceutical brand Dermaceutic. The first question that popped to mind was “Why is this yellow?” and luckily the answer was quite simple: Retinol is part of the carotene family, hence it’s carrot-like resemblance.

Dermaceutic’s active Retinol 0.5% claims to repair damaged skin and stimulate skin renewal, while an additional 1% Vitamin C and E tackle the signs of photo ageing. Love them antioxidants don’t we! Another extra benefit is the 1% Ceramide and mineral cocktail which is nourishing and hydrating.


I was incredibly impressed with the product’s instant results and cannot wait to see the long term effects. I paired it with a good sunscreen, because according to Beauty Blogger, Candice-Lee Kannemeyer, you should never ever use Retinol without a high SPF, come rain or shine.


"I always tell my readers that are concerned with ageing to choose a serum containing Retinol. It's the one ingredient that really does show a visible difference on the skin in a very short period of time. It can make the skin sun sensitive though, so it's imperative to use a sunscreen daily when you're using a Retinol product."

— Candice-Lee Kannemeyer

Dermalogica 0.5 and 1% Retinols

The second Retinol I reached for was the Dermalogica Overnight Retinol repair. Again, I started with the 0.5% (also yellow in colour) and again, I was thoroughly impressed. It comes with a protective Buffer Cream, because your skin can take a while to adjust to active ingredients such as Vitamin A, C and others. Personally, I didn’t have any issues or reactions to the above-mentioned products - no redness, no tender skin, nothing - only beautiful, smoother skin.


I did progress to the 1% Retinol from Dermalogica which launched last year July. This product felt different upon application. Hard to explain, but It almost felt a bit grainier, even when used at night with the Buffer Cream. I asked Dermalogica’s then PR why this is and she confirmed that’s it’s the texture of the Retinol capsule when landing on the skin. This is what she had to say:

Dermalogica used the most advanced technology available in order to sustain the 1% Retinol potency so that it delivers optimal results. This was done through microencapsulation technology, which protects the Retinol molecules inside with single-layer polymeric shells. If you perceive a slight texture change as the product dries on your skin, it is normal for this advanced formula.”

I value Beauty Blogger Tori Tatham’s opinion highly, I mean have you seen her glow? She has totally redefined the term glow - hashtag skingoals! Here’s her take on Retinol:

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“Retinol is an ingredient I started using about 2 years ago and its potency should not be underestimated. I tend to use it every now and again, so will do three days in a row and then take a break. In winter I tend to use it more frequently as sun is less of an issue, but have gone through periods when I have used it 3/4 times a week. As said, it’s a potent ingredient, but gets fantastic results when used correctly and with very strict sun protection.”

— Tori Tatham

As mentioned before: ALWAYS. USE. SUNSCREEN. I cannot emphasise this enough ladies.  

If you’re a sensitive soul with equally sensitive skin and have been hesitant to try Retinol due to fear of a bad reaction, then Fair Lady Beauty Editor, Kelli Clifton, will ease your mind:

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“I’ve always been reluctant to introduce Retinol into my skincare routine as I’ve had sensitive skin my entire life and have mild rosacea – I always thought it would make it worse. How could I have been so naïve? Ever since I hit my 30s, I’ve had no choice but to take the plunge and just do it and whenever I use a product with Retinol, I can honestly notice a vast difference. My skin always looks younger, more evenly toned and just, well, fresher. My best advice? Start off with a small dose (1%) and see how your skin handles it. You’ll probably end up wondering why you waited so long!”

— Kelli Clifton

Looking back, I truly regret not introducing Retinol into my skincare library earlier. The results are evident, non-invasive, and simply wow. Next on my wish list is the 1% Retinol from Skinceuticals and then I'll be ready for 1.7%. Will report back soonest. Watch this space. x



Five questions with feminist founder of Koeksuster.

Five questions with feminist founder of Koeksuster.