These Serums Are A Must-Have For Fighting Stubborn Acne & Signs Of Aging

Retinol is your best bet against acne, wrinkles, dull skin, and hyperpigmentation.

If you’re into skincare like we are, then your routine is probably already stuffed with cleansers, toners, acids, essences, and face masks. But if there’s one product you absolutely must make room for, it’s a retinol serum. Here’s what you need to know about this powerful ingredient, which brands to go for, and where to score a bottle or two in Australia.

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What Is Retinol?

Retinol is an ingredient made out of vitamin A. It encourages skin cell turnover and collagen production, which in turn helps battle acne, reduces wrinkles, evens out dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and smooths out rough skin.

How Does A Serum Differ From Other Kinds Of Skincare Products?

‘Serum’ is the term given to skincare products that are packed with active ingredients. Basically, you can get a more concentrated dose with less product. Plus, serums usually eliminate any ‘filler’ liquids, so they’re lighter and more easily absorbed than other types of skincare products.

Because of this, serums are a great way to address specific skin issues and support your skincare routine. Depending on your skin’s needs, you can get serums with vitamin C, vitamin E, niacinamide, and (of course) retinol.

A woman applying a beauty serum to her cheek
(Credit: Getty)

Can You Find Retinol In Other Formulas?

Yes! Retinol is a common ingredient found in over-the-counter night creams, eye creams, and other anti-aging products. It’s also pretty easy to find in a variety of products from Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, and other online shops.

There’s also a stronger version of retinol called tretinoin, but most tretinoin products require a prescription from a dermatologist.

Who Should Use Retinol?

Almost everyone can benefit from a good retinol serum, but it’s especially helpful if you have one of the following skin issues:

  • Persistent non-hormonal acne
  • Wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging
  • Rough, dull skin
  • Dark spots, uneven colour, or hyperpigmentation

There are exceptions to this, of course. If you have rosacea or eczema, retinol might be too irritating for your skin. You should also consult a doctor if you’re pregnant, nursing, or planning to get pregnant.

Benefits Of Retinol

  • Prevent and smooth out wrinkles and fine lines
  • Exfoliate the skin, resulting in a brighter and smoother skin texture
  • Reduce acne breakouts and prevent oil production
  • Even out complexion and get rid of discolouration/hyperpigmentation
A closeup of a woman's face with acne
(Credit: Getty)

Risks/Side Effects Of Retinol

  • Dryness or flakiness
  • Irritation or reddening of the skin
  • Breakouts or purging of acne
  • Sensitivity to sun

Do Anti-Aging Products Really Work?

A lot of products will promise you incredible (and unbelievable) results, and most of the time, they’re too good to be true. But retinol is the one ingredient that doctors and dermatologists actually approve! Most studies have concluded that retinol and tretinoin are very effective at staving off acne and the signs of aging.

How To Add Retinol To Your Skincare Routine

The best way to minimise the negative side effects of retinol is by applying it properly. Here are a few tips!

  • Apply retinol only at night, and make sure to use sunscreen/SPF in the morning.
  • Start off slow; apply a small amount of retinol product to your skin a couple of times a week and slowly increase the frequency until you’re using it every other day or daily.
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. Have a good moisturiser to reduce drying out your skin, or choose a retinol serum that already has moisturising ingredients like vitamin E or squalane oil.
  • Apply retinol serum after toning (or cleansing, if you don’t use a toner) for maximum results. However, if you have sensitive skin, you can ‘buffer’ it by applying a thin layer of moisturiser, waiting until it absorbs into your skin, and then applying the retinol serum.
  • Before applying retinol, make sure your skin is completely dry. This could take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.
  • Find the right formula for you. Not all retinol products are the same, and some may have other ingredients that are better for your skin.

The Best Retinol Serums On The Market

Cosmedix Serum 16

Price: $AUD 145

Buy Cosmedix Serum 16 at Adore Beauty here.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% In Squalane

Price: $AUD 13.10

Buy The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane at Myer here.

Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5

Price: $AUD 107

Buy Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 at Adore Beauty here.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Price: $AUD 123

Buy Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream at Mecca here.

Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum

Price: $AUD 141

Buy Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum at Mecca here.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream

Price: $AUD 48.99

Buy Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream at Priceline.

(Credit: Supplied)

Neutrogena Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum

Price: $AUD 60.00

For experienced retinol users, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ Serum contains 0.5% Pure Retinol. It’s formulated for powerful retinol results with less irritation for instantly softer, smoother skin. Buy Neutrogena Retinol Pro at Chemist Warehouse.

The Secret To Clear, Youthful Skin

Because everyone’s skin is different, retinol may or may not work for you. But based on studies and testimonials, we can say that it’s a pretty effective anti-acne and anti-aging ingredient for a lot of people. So what are you waiting for? Try a retinol serum today!

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