The best retinol products for all ages

Between hyaluronic acid and CBD, there have been a whole host of popular, buzz-worthy ingredients used in beauty this year. But perhaps the most talked about has been retinol.

Retinol, a type of vitamin A is ‘one of the few do-it-all actives,’ notes Nicolas Travis, founder of Allies of Skin. ‘It treats everything from breakouts to sun damage, wrinkles to fine lines. It also boosts collagen production for more refined skin.’

Retinol cleverly works in two ways at the surface level of your skin (the epidermis) to turn over skin cells more rapidly, and lower down at the dermis level, where it works to increase collagen production. Both of these effects result in younger looking skin.

best retinol products
Getty Images

Although one of the most notable benefits of retinol is its anti-ageing properties, it’s an ingredient that works for skin of all ages. Nicolas recommends anyone over the age of 21 trying a retinol-based product, incorporating it into their nightly routine so that skin cells turn over at night.

Retinol is a potent ingredient, so we recommend beginning by using it 3-4 times a week before upping usage to every day. Sensitive skins should be especially careful in introducing the ingredient slowly.

And the most important rule for using retinol? ‘Be diligent in using SPF every single day as it can make your skin for sensitive to UV damage,’ explains Nicolas.

The best retinol products for all ages and budgets



Lixir Night Switch Retinol 1%, £28, Lixir Skin

Perfect for retinol newbies, this Instagram-friendly bottle not only looks appealing, but is also perfect for mixing with moisturiser. In fact, it’s designed precisely to be used this way to keep skin feeling moisturised and protected.

Skin Laundry

Skin Laundry

Skin Laundry Night Renew Treatment 0.2% Retinol, £36, Cult Beauty


A silky smooth formula that leaves skin feeling nourished, this is the perfect pre-bedtime treat. Wake up to a noticeably more refined complexion.


R-retinoate Youth Activating Cream, £135, Medik8

Much loved by basically everyone in the industry, this is one of beauty’s best kept secrets. In terms of noticeable results, this formula is pretty much unrivalled. Medik8 uses a widely patented molecule retinyl retinoate, which the brand claims is 8 times more powerful than traditional retinol.

La Roche-Posay

La Roche Posay

La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Treatment, £29.50, Boots

An excellent starting point, this – like most La Roche Posay products – is great for skin that is sensitive. It’s also one of the most effective, budget-friendly formulas you can pick up in your local Boots store.

The Inkey List

The Inkey List

The Inkey List Retinol Moisturiser, £9.99

Following on in the footsteps of other fuss-free affordable skincare lines, The Inkey List offers a accessible price point with an effective contents.



Pixi Retinol Tonic, £10

If you’re a fan of Pixi’s iconic Glow Tonic (or the affordable Aldi dupe), give their newest skincare release a whirl. Perfect if you prefer liquid or lotion formulas, this affordable retinol product contains jasmine flower to heal and balance.

Allies of Skin

Allies of Skin

Allies of Skin 1A Retinal + Peptides Overnight Mask, £87

Allies of Skin was designed for all skin types, including those that are acne-prone. For this reason, you can feel safe in using the brand’s overnight retinol mask, whatever the condition of your skin.

Feature by Rebecca Fearn