I spent €284 on retinol products and this is the one that came out on top

Retinol products are often expensive and can be a little bit scary to experiment with. 

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and is one of the best ingredients available for reducing signs of skin ageing. It works by increasing cell turnover and as a result, cell renewal. It also helps with hydration and pigmentation. It's one of those wonder products that's both incredibly good for skin but also somewhat tricky to use properly, without the right guidance.

Adding retinol to your skincare routine in your late 20s is recommended, but it's advisable only to use it at night as it increases skin's sun sensitivity. It's also recommended not to use it every day, depending on the strength, because of it's potency.

Apply it on clean skin, a little going a long way, and always use SPF the next day to protect your sensitised skin.


Tried and tested

retinol products

The Inkey List Retinol €11.95

The Inkey List specialises in great ingredients, simplified and without unnecessary bells and whistles. This was pleasant to use and I definitely felt it at work.retinol products

Image Skincare Ageless Total Retinol-A Creme €83.50

This one is salon-only, or available online with the guidance of a skin professional. As a result, it's very effective. retinol products

Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil, €76


Irish brand Pestle & Mortar are the makers of this slick-looking night oil that contains a rake of vitamins, including vitamins A, B, E and C. It's such a luxurious product to use and the price is reflective of the experience of using it.

retinol products

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum, €82 

I am a fan of Sunday Riley's Luna Sleeping Night Oil, and this will impress fans of that product. It's like it's retinol-blend's big sister.

retinol products

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%, €9.80

Another budget offering, The Ordinary don't worry too much about the formula and focus on one central ingredient. There's not much else involved here bar pure 2% retinol, so for just adding that into your routine, it's ideal.



retinol products

La Roche Posay Redermic R Anti-wrinkle Retinol Treatment, €37.95 

This one is a lower dose of retinol and so makes a good entry-level one to try out. It's suitable for more sensitive skin, but always be careful to space out the usage so your skin gets accustomed to the product.

The retinol product that I will return to over and over is The Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil. Based on both its skin-rejuvenating effects and also the fact that it feels nice to use, thanks to the overall oil blend, makes me look forward to using it and getting my retinol hit. It's pricey but you really don't need to use much.

Read more: Everything to know about the non-irritating retinol alternative, bakuchiol


Read more: Beauty School: the expert's guide to retinol

Read more: Retinol: The ingredient that can transform ageing skin – and how to use it

The image newsletter