Retinol products you can use in the day: Dr. Dennis Gross, Drunk Elephant, and Paula’s Choice amongst others

Retinol products you can use in the day: Dr. Dennis Gross, Drunk Elephant, and Paula’s Choice amongst others

Dream skin

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @anyaholdstock
Image: Instagram | @drdennisgross

If there's an ingredient to trip up even the most seasoned of skincare pundits, it's retinol. Capable of changing skin texture, tone, and pigmentation in a matter of days, its potency means it either revered, feared, or loathed. It comes as no surprise, then, that this synthetic form of vitamin A remains shrouded in myth even in 2019. Some claim it exfoliates, others think it thins skin — and then there's the widespread belief that it is only safe for use at night. What's the deal?

It seems this stems from the finding that retinol breaks down in sunlight. This apparently leads to increased photosensitivity when said breakdown occurs on skin. And while that doesn't sound like too much of a stretch, it is, in fact, a fallacious line of thought. "This misconception came about because in some early studies, people described putting on a retinoid, walking into the sun, and immediately burning," explains Dana Sachs, associate professor of Dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School. In an interview with Allure, she further elaborates, "The redness is likely related to heat exposure. Clinical studies have shown pretty definitively that retinoids do not lower the MED — or minimal erythemal dos — of human skin, which is the amount of UV light you can take before the skin burns."

Does this mean that all types of retinol are fair game when it comes to day-time application? Not if you want it at maximum efficacy. It is true that retinol does break down in sunlight, after all. The beauty industry then set out to remedy this by sourcing for UV stable forms of retinol — and lo' and behold, they've done it. Meet the best of these game-changers, below.

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution

Sustained use of this bad boy heals rough, sun-damaged skin so a youthful complexion is within grasp. Retinol banishes fine lines and wrinkles, liquorice root extract brightens and smooths, while ferulic acid doubles down on complexion protection so 'em pesky UV rays don't leave skin feeling scorched. Colour us impressed.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

A winning combination of retinol and supportive peptides restore bounce, resilience and clarity to skin, while passionfruit, marula and jojoba oils replenish the skin's essential lipids and moisture levels. In sum: a smooth, clear and well-hydrated complexion with no fine lines or wrinkles in sight. A pea-sized amount is all that's needed, night or day — though brand experts do recommend you slap on SPF for extra protection should you opt for the latter.


Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Booster

Formulated with a highly concentrated, pure form of retinol, this helps to reduce visible signs of ageing, improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, pore size, and more. Its light, fluid texture also ensures close-to-instantaneous absorption, leaving behind none of that sticky, tacky residue us heat-dwellers dread.

Eve Lom Time Retreat Radiance Boost Treatment

This powerhouse multipurpose serum smooths, firms, and grants skin radiance in a single step thanks to a potent blend of naturally derived alpha hydroxy acids, liposome encapsulated retinol, and larch tree bark extract. In summary? The ideal solution for those suffering from dry, dull and ageing skin.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Lightweight Retinol Facial Oil

Deep, stubborn wrinkles are eradicated and the look of dark spots diminished with this powerful anti-ageing elixir. The inclusion of retinol SA — scientifically proven to provide more benefits than other forms of vitamin A — also ensures that skin is continuously renewed with daily use, thus delivering on a luminous, even-toned complexion in just a week. Sold.