SKIN | Really into retinol


This post has been sitting in my drafts since November, but I’m still really into retinol and I’m still really into these products, and it’s probably better for me to write about them after using them for a while anyway. This is not a comprehensive ‘What the hell is…?’ post, because I have two others of those on the go at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll write one of those in time. For now, though, I’ll just tell you about Indeed Labs Retinol Reface and Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, two retinol-rich products I’ve been loving.

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A; I’m technically writing about a few different retinoids here, but people generally just use the term retinol. Indeed Labs Retinol Reface contains retinol and hydroxypinacolone retinoate, while Sunday Riley Luna Oil just uses hydroxypinacolone retinoate. Another one that might sound familiar is retinyl palmitate. Stronger retinoids are available, but you need to be prescribed them by a doctor.

Retinol is one of those magical does-it-all skincare ingredients; it’s an antioxidant that helps improve texture and tone of the skin, and it’s just as good for acne as it is for anti-aging. Seriously, everyone needs some retinol in their life. It’s an ingredient that has a bit of scaremongering around it; I think a lot of people worry it will damage their skin, and while there is a risk of minor irritation and flaking, you’re not likely to see it with off-the-shelf retinol products. (Neither of these products ever caused any reaction for my skin, not even when I first started them.)


Retinol Reface is a serum-type product that claims to have three forms of retinol, but looking at the ingredients I can only see two. No bother: it works a treat, and that’s all I need. It’s dimethicone-heavy, so if you don’t like that silicone-y slip then this one isn’t for you. It’s probably not hydrating enough to use it without a moisturiser afterwards, but I’ll admit sometimes I smear it all over and leave it at that (my skin leans oily, so make of that what you will). After a couple of weeks of use I was really pleased to see this made a visible difference towards fading my PIH redness in my cheeks, and for that reason I’m not mad about it costing $45 NZD. The smart packaging is just a bonus: I wish all skincare came in an opaque tube with an air-tight pump at the end.

I’ll actually take that last sentence back for a second because the packaging for the Sunday Riley Luna Oil* is a special level of beautiful. Heavy square glass bottle, beautiful and functional dropper… Sunday Riley is a luxury skincare brand that took me a while to warm to, but I love everything of theirs that I’ve tried. The Luna oil is expensive as all hell, and given there are functional affordable alternatives like Retinol Reface, I can’t in good faith encourage everyone to go out and buy it. It’s $189 NZD. That’s not for everyone. It is worthy of a special mention, however, because it’s the first oil I have ever put on my face with no adverse effects, and once this bottle is done I’ll put my money where my mouth is and buy myself another one.

Have you used any retinol products—prescription or otherwise? Do you rate them? Any affordable options to recommend?

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  • punkdinosaur

    Why does your blog have a muddy green theme now? I like the older one better 🙁

    • The contrast between the menu colour and white text wasn’t enough for people to read on some monitors. I’m not 100% settled on the colour but I kinda like the olive tone!

  • Kate Adolph

    I’ve been keen to try some retinol stuff and now you have convinced me! I have the Sunday Riley Start Over eyecream but I felt like it dried out my eye area so maybe I’ll dabble in the less pricey option… Thanks for your tips Morgan!

    • Oh that’s a bummer about their eye cream! I haven’t tried that but I like everything else of theirs I’ve tried. You could probably get a sample of Luna from Mecca to start off with, too.

      • Kate Adolph

        I know, I had such high hopes because everything else from them seemed so good! Ah well

  • I don’t use retinols over the winter because I’ve been finding it too drying for the last couple of years #oldhag. I feel like an oil formulation like the Luna would help combat that!

    • I hate to say how much I love Luna because of how expensive it is… but sometimes you get what you pay for!