I’ve always been serious about skincare, like I’ve literally never missed a day of wearing sunscreen ever since I was 13. But when I turned 25, I went through a whole quarter life crisis, and I kept thinking about how I need to take my skincare routine even more seriously and really step it up. I really am one of those people who fear getting wrinkles, as sad as it sounds. No joke – I got my first forehead wrinkle last year, and I totally freaked out and started thinking if I should start getting botox at the ripe ol’ age of 25. Which is why I started using one of the most raved about anti-ageing products, retinol! My pick? The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

Facts in a Flash

Skin Type: All skin types

Main Function:

  • Reduce signs of ageing
  • Improve textural irregularities
  • Improve skin tone

Star ingredients: Retinol, Squalane

Texture: Oil

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

First Impressions

Right off the bat, I liked how it’s an oil rather than a cream or a serum. I tend to lean towards oil-based retinols anyway, as I prefer to not have to layer another moisturiser on top of it. Most people would recommend retinol users to sandwich it in between moisturising and nourishing products, especially if you’re new to using retinol. This is because retinol has a tendency to dry out or irritate the skin, particularly if you have dry or sensitive skin. I have both dry and sensitive skin, so I was actually delighted to find a retinol that’s also an oil.

This product actually contains 1% retinol, which is pretty high. Retinol is pretty strong, and it takes some time for your skin to get used to it and build tolerance, which is why you should always start with a retinol formulation that’s in much lower doses, like at 0.2%. However, I’ve been using retinol for about two years now, which is why I felt like I can graduate to using 1% retinol.

A lot of people also experince purging when they first use retinol, which means that your skin will breakout. This is because retinol speeds up the cell turnover process, so the trapped oil and debris underneath the skin really comes to the surface. Purging doesn’t last forever though; you’ll probably only have to wait for about a month until your skin gets used to it and settles down.

Even though I have dry and sensitive skin, I’ve never really experienced purging when I use retinol, even in the beginning, which was totally surprising as my skin tends to break out at practically everything. However, I still was a little nervous to try out The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane as I had never used such a high dose of retinol, and using any new product is a bit scary.

How I Use It

As it’s an oil-based retinol, I don’t feel like have to finish off with a moisturiser afterwards. My skin doesn’t feel dry at all when I don’t use a moisturiser afterwards; in fact my skin feels really soft and smooth in the morning.

As retinol is a very strong active ingredient, it’s not recommended that you use it in the morning either as the sun rays won’t make it work as well. I use The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane as the last step of my night care routine, and I only use a cleanser and a toner before, just in case my other products mess with the active retinol.

Every time I start using a new retinol product, I always only use it once a week for about a month, just to let my skin get used to it. After that, I’ll slowly up the frequency. Nowadays, I only use retinol every two days, as I practise skin cycling.

The Verdict

I’ve tried many retinols before. After all, I’m already at 1%. And so far, this is honestly the best retinol product I’ve ever used. I really appreciate that it doesn’t break me out – who wouldn’t? And I especially enjoy that it’s an oil-based formula.

I also really like the fact that it contains squalane, which is an ingredient that’s known to really hydrate and moisturise from deep within the skin. I find that it really counteracts the natural drying properties of retinol, and my skin really enjoys it.

I always find that my skin feels baby smooth and soft when I wake up the morning after I’ve used The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane, which isn’t something I would say for any other product. When I’m consistent about using this retinol, my skin is always really smooth and texture-free.

However, this is not a perfect product; I do have some qualms about it. As it’s an oil, it takes quite a while to absorb, which is another reason why I don’t use a product after it. Other than that, The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane only has a three month product life, and there’s absolutely no way I can finish it within three months. I won’t tell you how long I’ve been using the same bottle, but it’s definitely way past three months.

And here’s a big issue I have with it that I only found out when I googled it to write this review: it needs to be refrigerated once it’s been opened. There’s a tiny line about it in the directions part on the label, but let’s be real, who reads directions? Not me, apparently. In my defence, the product is in a UV-safe packaging and it’s *clearly* labelled that it’s highly-stable, so I thought that that was enough. Oh, well.

Insider’s Rating

Rating4 out of 5
Pros– Doesn’t oxidise easily
– Very moisturising
– Doesn’t break me out
– Leaves skin feeling very soft
Cons– Has a very short product life
– Needs to be refrigerated
– Doesn’t absorb easily
VerdictI really love this stuff, qualms and all.

Where to buy:

If you’re interested in getting The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane for yourself, you can get it on Sephora, Shopee, and Threebs.

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