Everything you need to know about the holy grail of anti-ageing

Retinol is the go-to for all those fine lines and wrinkles, but do you know it well enough to incorporate it efficiently in your skincare routine?

Harper's Bazaar India

The miracle that is said to be retinol. You’ve heard of it—the holy grail of cell turnover and skin cell rejuvenation, leading to anti-ageing—and so much that you are certain it must be incorporated into your skincare routine. And yet, do you really know enough? Unfortunately, for all the hype that this active ingredient gets, there is much about it that is still shrouded in mystery, which is why, before we leave you with our selection of the best retinols to choose from, we offer you a quick 101 guide to retinol.

What is retinol?

Retinol is different from retinoid. Retinoid is a general term for all vitamin A derivatives, and retinol is specific kind of retinoid and often the most popular topical formula. Retinol is a key nutrient naturally produced by your body that aids in boosting cell turnover, kickstarting collagen production, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. And if that wasn’t enough, it also helps prevent clogged pores, which means one thing—fewer breakouts!

When do you begin using it?

Why retinol has often been a “in the 30s” active ingredient, pollution, stress, and other factors causing early ageing has led many people to start using it in their mid-20s. So, your dermatologist and you will be the best judges.

How to use it?

Like any other active ingredient, start slow, using a pea-sized amount twice a week and slowly increasing it to more. Also, this is a PM ingredient and makes the skin sensitive to the sun, so make sure you only use it for your nighttime routine, and always, always use SPF in the day. Another thing to keep in mind is never to use the ingredient on exfoliation days. Exfoliation can be irritating for the skin, and since retinol can also do the same, you do not want to heighten your skin’s sensitivity.

Retinol can lead to mild irritation, dryness (people with oily skin find it easier to use retinol, and dry skin people should make sure to use a calming moisturiser after), and initial break outs. But if you are experiencing redness, intense burning or flaking, you must discontinue its use. Fret not, there are other anti-ageing products like bakuchiol for you to try.

That done, here is our top picks of over-the-counter retinol

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

This one is great for everyone with sensitive skin and looking to start their retinol journey. Made with a combination of hyaluronic acid, this combats the dryness that the active ingredient causes and helps you retain the skin’s moisture.

₹7,500 for 30ml

PIXI Botanical Collagen & Retinol Serum

Another great option, this one is paraben free; has niacinamide, ascorbic acid and chamomile that calms the skin; is against animal testing; and is especially great for the forever elusive glow apart from fine line reduction.

₹2,550 for 30ml

Olay Retinol24 Night Serum with Retinol & Niacinamide

A fairly new one on the block, this one by the popular skincare brand has quickly become a favourite with its powerful retinoid complex and vitamin B3 (niacinamide). It helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, reduce skin texture, improve brightness, fade dark spots, and is also incredibly hydrating!

₹1,799 for 30ml

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Sqaulane

This one is finally available in India and we cannot celebrate enough! The brand has been a forerunner in selling effective ingredients in affordable prices, and their retinol range is just as good. From fine lines and wrinkles, to dark spots and acne, this one addresses and solves many concerns.

₹700 for 30ml

Pilgrim Retinol & Hyaluronic Acid Lift and Firm Serum

Another affordable brand, this one with its retinol and hyaluronic formula is also an easy go to for targeting fine lines and giving your skin that much needed hydration. Plus, it is 100 per cent vegan, cruelty free, and does not contain toxic chemicals including paraben and SLS.

₹650 for 30ml