This Retinol Formula Is Actually Gentle on Your Skin

We tried it.

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Retinol is one of those tried-and-true, ever-popular skincare ingredients—it’s been recommended by dermatologists and editors alike for decades. At 32, I’ve started to notice some fine lines along my forehead, eyes, and mouth. I am looking to target early signs of skin aging, as well as some lingering hyperpigmentation from old breakouts. Can you tell I have an expressive face? I don’t have particularly reactive skin, but I do find certain retinol products to be irritating. That’s why I was so excited to try No7’s new Pure Retinol collection in particular.

To clarify, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A found to reduce signs of aging, smooth skin texture, even skin tone, and boost collagen production. But, traditional retinol formulas can cause dryness, peeling, and irritation. Enter: No7’s new Pure Retinol collection which includes the Pure Retinol Night Cream, Pure Retinol Eye Cream, and No7’s best-selling Advanced Retinol 1.5% Night Concentrate Serum. No7's new products are specifically formulated to be gentler on your skin. The blend—including pure retinol in a slow-release oil encapsulation system (this controls the delivery of the potent ingredient, minimizing skin irritation), as well as Shea butter and bisabolol to help soothe and nourish—is a game changer. Read on for everything you need to know about the new products and my full, honest review after testing them for weeks.

Why No 7’s Retinol Is Different: 

“Retinol is used often because of its effects on skin aging,” says Nazarian, “as it induces collagen formation, and even increases substances in the skin that improve hydration.” While all of those benefits sound exciting, it’s true retinol has been known to cause irritation. That’s why No7 decided to pair their pure retinol with a slow-release oil encapsulation system. According to Dr. Mike Bell, the Head of Science Research at Walgreens Boots Alliance, the system works like this: “The retinol is released slowly and steadily, making its way from the epidermis to the dermis where it will attack free radicals and facilitate the production of collagen and elastin. Thanks to the time-controlled approach, the results are transformative, with effects that are much gentler and less irritating for the skin.”

Additionally, traditional retinol products often use a retinol derivative, which is a less efficacious form of retinol. The best part about No7’s collection is they found a great balance of “pure retinol” that allows you to layer the ingredient into various components of your skincare routine for even better results. This means you can successfully layer the serum, eye cream, and night cream together as a regimen without irritating your skin (as long as you’re not using them in conjunction with AHAs). So, that’s exactly what I did for three weeks—starting at three times a week and working my way to every night.

No7 Pure Retinol Night Cream

If you know me, you know I love a rich cream—it feels so soft, velvety, and bouncy on your skin. This night cream is no different. It’s a pleasure to apply, it warms between your fingertips and leaves your skin looking so dewy and feeling utterly hydrated. Together with shea butter, it’s an absolute dream. I use it every night and wake up still feeling hydrated, and, after three weeks, I’ve noticed a difference in the firmness of my skin. It’s lifted and looking more even toned than it was a month ago.

No7 pure retinol
No7 Pure Retinol Night Cream $34.99
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No7 Pure Retinol Eye Cream

My eyes (or crow’s feet, rather) have always been my giveaway. They cropped up years ago and have been with me ever since. That said, I’m not afraid of aging or of wrinkles, but I do love skincare that’ll help soothe and smooth. This offering really works. It’s a mix of the aforementioned pure retinol, collagen-peptide technology, and provitamin B5 to attract and retain moisture. So, it treats signs of aging while it replenishes moisture and strengthens your skin. I just dot it along my orbital bone and gently massage it in with that gentle tap, tap, taping motion so as to not disrupt the delicate eye skin (it’s so lightweight!). I noticed a difference the very first morning, and the results have only become more visible since then. As an FYI: I use this product before applying the Pure Retinol Night Cream and they’re an incredible duo.

no 7 eye cream
No7 Pure Retinol Eye Cream $27.99
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For me, skincare has always been self-care, and using products that treat my skin without causing irritation is a huge part of that. I want products that work and make me feel good the whole way through. This collection is exactly that. FYI: They’re great as standalone products, but I love using all three as part of my nighttime routine for improved results.