Thinking About Trying Retinol? Make These Serums Your First Port of Call

Updated 02/27/18
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Best retinol serum: woman with glowing skin
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There's a lot of talk about retinol in the beauty sphere at present, so we're not surprised that you're thinking about giving it a go—it is what everyone seems to be swearing is the reason for their firmer, tauter and smoother skin right about now.

A derivative of vitamin A, which sits under the retinoids umbrella, is very powerful. In fact, when created carefully, the best retinol serums can boost collagen (which is why so many people attribute it to the reduction of fine lines); they will increase cell turnover, thus making skin smoother and softer; they will clear out clogged pores, making them appear tighter; and they can even fade smatterings of dark spots.

They don't come without precautions, though. Firstly, retinol is pretty hardcore as far as ingredients go, so your skin might need a little longer to get used to it—go steady. Plus, it can make skin pretty sensitive to light, meaning it's a formula best used at night. If yours says suitable for the day, make sure you're following with a heavy layer of SPF—but you were doing that anyway, right?

However, as with any buzzy ingredient, the word is all too often flouted around, brandished across the front of bottles that don't really possess the strength of concentration to really make a difference at all.

And considering retinol can be pretty pricey—although you'll find some more affordable options below—it's important to make sure you get your purchase right the first time. So we've selected five retinol serums that we would recommend.

Be warned that its plumping, smoothing and all-around glow-inducing effects are highly addictive.

Best retinol serum: Zelens Power A High Potency Vitamin A (Retinol) Treatment Drops
Zelens Power A High Potency Vitamin A (Retinol) Treatment Drops $115
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It's pretty potent stuff, but if you have the budget for it, we've seen it produce some near-magical results. It contains encapsulated retinol as well as two retinoids (we said it was potent) that work overtime while you're sleeping to amp up the skin's cellular renewal, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and pores in the process. It also contains plenty of omegas and vitamins to nourish as well as geranium essential oil, which is brilliant at banishing blemishes.

Best retinol serum: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion $8
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We're yet to meet anyone who's had even the slightest bit of irritation using The Ordinary's formula, although as with any new skincare product, go slowly and give your skin time to adjust. 

Best retinol serum: Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum
Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum $72
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One of the Dr, Dennis Gross Skincare's most cult products, this retinol serum gets to work on an area we often forget—the neck. As well as a heavy dose of retinol, it contains lactic acid to buff away that slightly rough texture that can appear on the area, along with ferulic acid to strengthen skin, so it doesn't teeter into crepey territory.

Best retinol serum: REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate
REN Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate $45
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We're definitely starting to see the more "natural" sector of the skincare realm starting to employ retinol found in bio-available ingredients too. But just because it's natural doesn't mean it doesn't work as hard. Case in point: REN Skincare. Its serum contains three forms of vItamin A all extracted from biological sources, as well as vitamin E to soothe and protect skin from environmental damage.

Best retinol serum: Beauty Pie Super Retinol Ceramide Boost Anti-Aging Face Serum
Beauty Pie Super Retinol Ceramide Boost Anti-Aging Face Serum $10
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You already know we love Beauty Pie's serum, but one more time for the people at the back—it contains encapsulated retinol that acts as a buffer between your skin, reducing irritation and meaning most skin types can use it every single day without any adverse reactions.

Use one of these heavy hitters in the slot after cleansing and before moisturiser or face oil, and we're almost certain it won't be long before you wake up with skin as plump as a Flump marshmallow.

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