New To Vitamin A? These Are The Best Retinols For Beginners

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Retinol, also known as vitamin A, has become one of the most touted anti-ageing skincare products in the beauty market. 

But, there’s a lot to know before delving into the delightful benefits retinol and retinoids have to offer, particularly as a beginner.

Retinol works to increase cells production which in turn aids in collagen production, unclogging pores and reducing acne as well as reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

The increase in cell turnover and shedding of dead skin cells can however cause increased sun sensitivity and, when not used correctly, damage to your skin barrier.

So, to ensure you introduce retinol into your skincare routines as a beginner effectively, we turned to Paula’s Choice Skincare’s Director of Applied Research & Education Desiree Stordahl for her tips on finding the right product.

Glowy skin awaits. (Credit: Instagram @alphahskincare)

What Is The Difference Between Retinol And Retinoids?

“Retinol is the pure vitamin A. So it’s just vitamin A in its entirety. Retinoid can be different variation of retinol derivatives. It doesn’t mean they’re any less effective, they just convert to retinoic acid in skin a little bit differently and through a different number of steps than retinol does,” Desiree tells marie claire Australia.

Which Retinol Should I Use As A Beginner?

“First of all, I would say no matter which you’re using [retinol or retinoid], start slowly. Start with a concentration that’s maybe in more of that mid-range, so a 0.3% versus, I wouldn’t say jump into like a 1% retinol,” Desiree explains.

How Do You Use Retinol For Beginners?

If you’re hesitant to apply retinol straight to clean skin after cleansing, Desiree recommends using the “sandwich method” whereby you layer your retinol or mix with your moisturiser.

When it comes to layering retinol in your skincare routine as a beginner (or a pro) Desiree advises to follow the age-old rule of applying all your products “from thinnest to thickest texture”.

The Best Retinols For Beginners In Australia


Triple Active Total Repair Serum, $72 at Paula’s Choice

This anti-aging formula uses 0.3% retinyl propionate, which Desiree explains, “is an ester of retinol, that converts to retinoic acid deeper in skin and is better tolerated than retinol.”



Innisfree Retinol Cica Repair Ampoule Serum, $58 at Sephora

For retinol beginners prone to sensitivity, this lightweight, watery ampoule could be your perfect match thanks to a very low 0.015% concentration that can be used daily if tolerated.



Vitamin A Serum with 0.5% Retinol, $84.95 at Alpha-H

As well as the skin-clearing benefits of 0.5% retinol, Alpha-H’s products all focus on maintain the skin’s pH balance for a plump, hydrated complexion.



Retinol 0.3 Anti-Ageing Night Cream, $99 at Skinceuticals

Coming in a 0.3, 0.5 and 1.0 percentage cream, Skinceuticals uses pure retinol along with bisabolol to help minimise irritation but maintain its potency.



CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum, $41.99 at Adore Beauty

Using encapsulated retinol at 0.3% as well as hyaluronic acid and three types of ceramides to hydrate and gently improve fine lines and wrinkles.



Medik8 Crystal Retinal 1, $85 at Adore Beauty

Medik8’s Crystal Retinal range makes the process of your retinol journey as a beginner simple: start with number 1 which is formulated with 0.01% stabilised retinal and work your way up (through to number 10) from there.


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