Retinoids: the transformative ingredient for more youthful skin

Written by: Madeleine White

Retinoids - also know as Vitamin A - are known for their ability to diminish signs of aging, brighten skin, clear acne, and fade dark spots. However, incorporating this transformative ingredient into your skincare routine can feel overwhelming.

This guide gives an overview on the types, strengths and various formulations available, and how to get started on your retinoid journey.

Close up of women

What are Retinoids?

Retinoid is the umbrella term for Vitamin A derivatives, the most commonly-known being Retinol and Retinal (also known as Retinaldehyde). These are often given via prescription, depending on the strength of the active ingredient. Essentially they are a form of Retinoic Acid – something we naturally have in small amounts in the skin – which helps our skin cells to develop and renew.

Experts suggest introducing retinol into your routine at around age 25, when skin begins to lose elasticity.

Photo of Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinoid Night Oil

The benefits of using retinoids

There are countless benefits of using retinoids and they are generally considered the 'gold standard' of skincare. There have been many studies that prove retinoids have the ability to:

  • diminish fine lines and wrinkles,
  • promote a more even skin tone,
  • improve skin clarity,
  • balance oil production,
  • boost cell-turnover capabilities,
  • stimulate collagen production,
  • refine pores,
  • minimise acne,
  • improve texture,
  • reduce hyperpigmentation,
  • and generally provide a plumper, more youthful complexion.

How to use retinoids

One of the drawbacks of using retinoids is that they can potentially lead to irritation. As retinol accelerates cell turnover, it essentially speeds up the skin’s natural renewal cycle. This rapid shedding of the skin's outer layers to reveal new skin underneath can initially cause the skin to become dry, flaky and sensitive. Additionally, since retinol promotes such a significant increase in cell regeneration, the skin’s barrier function may temporarily be compromised during the adjustment period, making it more susceptible to irritants.

The key to minimising the risk of irritation lies in:

  • finding the right product for your skin (see below for a breakdown on the various retinoids available at JUNI & CO),
  • and using retinoids in the correct way.

Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

Start slowly. A common mistake is using retinol too frequently at the start. Begin with a pea-sized amount twice a week, and slowly increase usage as your skin adapts.

Use as part of your evening routine. Retinol is best used at night as it can increase sensitivity to sunlight.

Avoid other potentially harsh ingredients. It's a good idea to avoid using things like exfoliants - at least on the same nights - and instead focus on hydrating, barrier-supporting products to 'cushion' your retinoid.

Skincare routine featuring Pestle & Mortar

Things to note and precautions

Retinoids and the sun

Retinoids may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and the possibility of sunburn. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing and limit sun exposure while using this product.

Retinoids and pregnancy

Using Vitamin A-related compounds contributes to your daily intake of Vitamin A.

It's widely advised that consumers should be cautious when using retinoid products during pregnancy, because of concerns over exposure to high levels of Vitamin A.

Woman applying skincare in the sun

Incorporating retinoids into your skincare routine

Pai Retinal 0.16% Skin Renewal Booster

These all-natural Booster drops use retinal sourced from pink salt lakes. 

As with all Pai products, this Booster has been specifically designed for and independently patch tested on sensitive skin. They've cushioned the formula with prebiotic inulin to help build the skin barrier’s resilience and reduce irritation.

The great thing about Pai's Boosters is that they can be used neat or mixed into your chosen serum or moisturiser. This means you have complete control over how much you use and can build up very slowly.

Who's it for?

Those with ultra-sensitive skin looking to 'dip their toe' into the world of retinoids.

Josh Rosebrook Active Infusion Oil

This regenerating retinoid facial oil is boosted by a clinical concentration of skin brightening, stabilized Vitamin C which enhances the performance of the retinoid for greater efficacy and results. Smooth, plump, improve tone and protect skin from accelerated aging.

The micronutrient, fatty acid rich, plant oil blend absorbs quickly and cushions the delivery of the actives into the skin. The antioxidant rich, in-house made herb and mushroom extracts offer concentrated phytonutrients to help nourish and protect skin and increase luminosity.

Who's it for?

Suitable for all skin types. Great for those who want to combine multiple active ingredients for added benefits.

Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinoid Night Oil

A luxurious retinoid night oil blended with fast-acting and absorbent retinoids so that the actives are effective at low concentration. The risk of irritation commonly associated with retinoid products is eliminated without compromising the benefits.

Supported by a base of cold-pressed, organic and steam-distilled oils, Superstar feels light and nourishing on the skin.

Who's it for?

Superstar is formulated with 0.2% concentration of active retinoid, making it a gentle introduction for those just starting out on their retinoid journey.

Pestle & Mortar Superstar+ Retinoid Night Oil

If you’re already using retinol and looking to maintain or level-up results, Superstar+ is the upgrade you need. Superstar+ uses the exact same formula as the original Superstar, apart from a higher retinoid concentration of 1% active retinoid.

Who's it for?

Ideal for those who have previously seen positive results with retinoid, are ready to advance to a higher level of retinoid use, or want to maintain results achieved from prescription-strength retinol treatments.

Incorporating retinoids into your bodycare routine

Bodyologist Instant Booster Skin Changing Body Serum

This lightweight body serum combines retinol with various other active ingredients to leave skin feeling soft, toned and protected.

Who's it for?

Anyone looking to up their bodycare game with minimal fuss.

Bodyologist Night Glove Regenerating Body Cream

Night Glove is an extra caring, rich natural body cream filled with active ingredients which leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. Use alone or combine with the Bodyologist Instant Booster Body Serum for added benefits.

Who's it for?

Ideal for people with particularly dry, scaly skin.

Bodyologist Soft Hands Advanced Hand Cream

Soft Hands is a nourishing and extra protective hand cream which leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated.

Who's it for?

Suitable for ageing hands, or those who struggle with calluses, hangnails or rough patches.