The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane First Impressions

Up until recently, there has been one major active ingredient missing from my daily skincare routine: retinol. I am pretty much pleased with all the other aspects of my skincare at the moment but I got to an age where I feel I have to step it up a notch.


Retinol is an antioxidant that restores the skin, it stimulates the production of new skin cells and helps to fade marks, scars, pigmentation. Retinol was originally used to help acne scarring but now it is basically the Holy Grail of anti-ageing, a powerful beauty tool for the skincare savvy. Retinol products are powerful enough to reverse some of the signs of ageing of the skin, they brighten, tighten, even out the skin tone and reduce the look of fine lines, even helping to prevent the breakdown of collagen to some extent. Retinol comes in all shapes and sizes, there are different strengths available and you can use it many different ways, in many different forms (creams, serums, boosters, treatments etc.). Are you over 35? I say, start to introduce it to the routine gently and slowly.

The Ordinary has seven Retinol products in their portfolio that you can choose from. They have traditional Retinol in 0.2%, 0.5%, 1%, all in Squalane that can cause a bit of irritation (some peeling and maybe some redness) and Granactive Retinoid in 2 and 5% in Squalane that promises no irritation whatsoever.


I opted for the traditional Retinol 0.5% in Squalane. The ingredient list is short and sweet: Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, BHT

Squalane is a lightweight, fast-absorbing oil known for its hydration and elasticity improving properties that even works for oily and acne-prone skin types.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is an emollient and dispersing agent to make sure the active ingredient is spread evenly in the formula

Jojoba Seed Oil is great for replenishing the skin and take off the edge of the irritation Retinol might cause

Tomato Fruit Extract is an antioxidant containing Vitamin C and E that conditions the skin.


I always say that these active ingredients only make sense if you put them in a super-nourishing environment. Don’t just use Retinol and forget about all the other important nutrients you might need depending on your skin type. Thankfully, this formula provides a good blend of ingredients so I don’t feel I have to follow it with serums, moisturizers. I also believe that oils should be the last step in any a skincare regime so this seems to be adequate to use on its own.

How it worked for me so far

The formula has a light yellow colour, it feels soft, velvety, nourishing on the skin and I love the slightly oily consistency of it. It seems my skin loves it too, I have to resist not to use it more than once a week because in this case slowly does it. I will try and build up my resistance to it and use it maybe twice a week in about a month. Apart from a tiny bit of peeling, I haven’t experienced any other irritation yet, but I’ve only been using it for three weeks.  I use it at night after cleansing, I add an eye cream and that is pretty much it, I don’t think it needs anything else. I am thinking about mixing it with my body cream too just to see how it works.


As I mentioned before, The Ordinary has a wide range of retinol products with varying strengths, I suggest to have a good read on the website and do your research about it on other sources too before you order it. If you think that this is for you and start using retinol, follow the instructions carefully and make sure everything you use on your skin is gentle and good quality (so please don’t cleanse with a wipe and then use a retinol product, there’s no point in doing that). Pay attention to give your skin plenty of nourishment on the days when not using retinol and don’t forget to use SPF during the day to preserve the results. You can build up your tolerance to retinol slowly, but don’t overdo it, this might not be a product for every day unless your tolerance is high.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane is water-free, alcohol-free, silicone-free, nut-free, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, cruelty-free.


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