Let's talk about retinol (baby). A vitamin A derivative, retinol is converted into retinoic acid at a cellular level, which has potent skin-reparative and anti-ageing benefit, but is oft-maligned because of its side effects. Unlike AHAs, which brighten skin by dissolving the bonds that bind dulling dead cells to its surface, retinol re-energises lazy fibroblasts - stimulating synthesis of skin-essential 'scaffolding' - the collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin that keep skin smooth and supple.

Retinol accelerates turnover - maintaining the natural regenerative processes we take for granted in our teens and early 20s. As skin cells become sluggish (sometime around 25), retinol helps keep things ticking over - however, this can trigger a slight 'peeling' effect. Redness and flakiness went hand-in-hand with retinoids until relatively recently, often acting as a deterrent to their use (obviously). However, with modern technology and clever, encapsulated formulations (as well as milder strengths for those who're tentative), its easier and easier to find a perfect daily formulation.

Retinol also increases sun sensitivity, which is why most vitamin A products are positioned as overnight treatments. You'll find a wealth of night creams, bedtime 'peels' and overnight 'facials' laced with vitamin A, which works its unencumbered, skin-perfecting magic while your slumber.

And it isn't just an age-defying powerhouse. It's also brilliant for blemish-prone and acneic complexions, as well as those with dulled, pigmented or pock-marked visages. By 'bothering' cells into action, it stimulates skin's healing and reparative processes to 'densify' while fading scars and fortifying fragile tissue.

{VERSO} is a revelation in retinol, thanks to its signature 'Retinol 8' complex - the 'first high dose vitamin A derivative that can be used safely in the daytime'. The '8' stands for 'eight times more effective' than typical retinol in the same quantity, which means maximum gain with minimum upset.

The 'head girl' of the anti-ageing ingredients league, there are few things retinol doesn't do - it strengthens, plumps, elasticises, brightens, unifies and 'youthifies' in one fell swoop - ideal as a preventative measure, as well as a potent, time-rewinding treatment.

Sunday Riley's {Luna Sleeping Night Oil} partners retinol with blue tansy - a calming plant extract which quickly combats signs of sensitivity. With an array of rave reviews, this product is an ideal introduction for those keen to start a 'youth-preserving' ritual - as well as those who're struggling with myriad skin issues.

Or, opt for The Ordinary's {Advanced Retinoid 2%} which - at only £8!! - is the perfect 'no frills' formulation for anyone looking to jump on the retinoid bandwagon. Apply in the evening, sandwiched between cleanser/toner and night cream/oil - it's a treatment serum and remarkably potent, so build up your tolerance gradually. Use on alternate evenings to begin with, gradually increasing frequency to maximise the skin-transforming benefits.

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