Ingredient Glossary

What Does Retinol Do for Your Skin?

Retinol night cream

Retinol is the buzzword of the moment in the beauty industry; the cult favorite that’s gracing the skincare routines of beauty enthusiasts, and getting the stamp of approval from dermatologists – but what is retinol exactly and what does retinol do? Read on to discover the many benefits of retinol for skin and learn how to incorporate retinol serum, eye cream and night cream into your regimen.  

What is retinol? 

As derivatives of Vitamin A, retinoids are used to treat a range of skin concerns. They come in a variety of different strengths, with prescription-strength options typically being referred to as retinoids.   

Once applied to the skin, retinol is converted by skin cells into retinoic acid, and it’s this conversion process that enables visible improvements to the appearance of skin’s texture and condition.  

What does retinol do? 

Known as a “holy grail” of anti-aging, retinol is the ingredient to incorporate into your skin care routine if you want to see real results. Retinol benefits the skin by supporting surface skin cells’ natural renewal process, making skin’s layers feel thicker and enhancing its ability to retain water. It also helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

By supporting surface skin cell turnover, retinol helps to smooth skin’s texture and reduce the appearance of pores and pigmentation, for a brighter-looking complexion. 

benefits of retinol - image showing the before and after

Is retinol safe? 

Retinol is perfectly safe – particularly the next-generation retinol complex found in No7’s retinol skincare range. Not only is it delivered to the skin in an intelligent, slow-release oil encapsulation that helps reduce the common irritating side effects of retinol, but it’s blended with soothing shea butter and bisabolol to be gentler to the skin. 

There are, however, some exceptions. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you shouldn’t use retinol, as it can be harmful to your unborn baby. It also isn’t recommended for those with conditions such as eczema or rosacea, or anyone with extremely sensitive skin. 

What are the side effects of retinol? 

If you’re using retinol for the first time, you may experience dryness or peeling of the skin over the first few weeks. This is perfectly natural, as skin cell turnover occurs. However, through continued use, these side effects should soon subside.  

As retinol also makes skin sensitive to sunlight, it’s advised that you use a daily moisturizer with SPF. 

When and how to use retinol 

For the best results, apply retinol at night. This allows the formula to penetrate the surface of the skin while you sleep, supporting cell turnover for a renewed, younger-looking complexion.    

When using retinol for the first time, introduce it into your skincare routine slowly. Apply twice a week for the first month to help prevent irritation and allow skin to become familiar with retinol and its effects. When you’re comfortable that your skin is receiving retinol well, and with minimal or no side effects, gradually increase usage to several times per week, building to nightly use. 

No7 pure retinol eye cream, including an eye cream, night cream and retinol serum

Retinol skincare: Serum, eye cream and night cream 

Retinol night cream 

Formulated to be gentler to the skin, No7 Pure Retinol Night Repair Cream combines the power of pure retinol with No7’s anti-aging peptide technology, Matrixyl 3000+, and soothing shea butter to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and pores. It delivers this pure retinol in an intelligent, slow-release oil encapsulation that helps to reduce common irritating side effects and is proven to be more effective than retinol derivatives.  

In the evening, massage this retinol night cream in small upward circles over the face and neck after cleansing, toning and applying the No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate to wake up to skin that looks and feels younger, firmer, hydrated, and more evenly toned. 

Retinol eye cream  

Blending No7’s most targeted form of retinol (that is proven to be more effective than retinol derivatives and deliver the power of retinol without the irritation) with No7’s famous Matrixyl 3000+™ collagen peptide technology, and soothing shea butter and bisabolol, the No7 Pure Retinol Eye Cream works to target the appearance of 7 key signs of aging around the eyes: fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, dryness, lack of firmness, dark circles, and puffiness.  

In the evening, dot this lightweight retinol eye cream around the eyes and gently blend into the eye contours to lend the skin a firm, lifted, hydrated, and brightened appearance. If sensitivity occurs, reduce use to every other night and build up to nightly use. 

Retinol serum 

To amplify the results of your retinol night cream and retinol eye cream, always apply a thin layer of the No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate first. Boasting the same next-generation retinol complex as the night and eye creams, it supports surface skin renewal from the very first application, working through the night to deliver visibly younger and healthier-looking skin by morning. 

With continued use, fine lines and pores appear reduced, skin tone and texture look more even, and skin feels firmer and lifted. Apply two pumps to a cleansed, toned face, avoiding the eye, outer eye and lip area. Allow to absorb, then follow up with a retinol eye cream and night cream. 


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No7 Beauty

No7 Beauty

Writer and expert