The Inkey List Retinol Review

The Inkey List Retinol

Everyone’s heard of The Ordinary by now, but sharing a brand focus of top results at a low budget, The Inkey List are slowly pushing them out of first place. Striving for innovation and alternatives, The Inkey List has established itself with a staple set of products typically priced no more than £15 per item. Read our review of The Inkey List’s Retinol serum below.

The Product

The Inkey List Retinol Serum (30ml) contains:

  • 1% RetiStar stabilised Retinol
  • 0.5% Granactive Retinoid
  • Squalane for hydration and soothing

A quick glance at the ingredients above and you’ll see that this serum is far from any typical Retinol serum. We’ve briefly covered the key ingredients and what they do below.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A. When applied topically, retinol is converted by enzymes into retinoic acid which has been shown to boost collagen synthesis and therefore reverse and reduce signs of aging. Retinol serums can also help to make pores smaller and even skin tone.


RetiSTAR is a retinol derivative trademarked by The Inkey List. According to The Inkey List, “RetiSTAR™ is a stable form of retinol in a dispersion containing tocopherol, sodium ascorbate and PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil in caprylic/capric triglycerides to ensure maximum effectiveness. Conventional retinol creams and serums can flood the skin with retinol which can cause skin sensitivities and redness” [1].

What is Granactive Retinoid?

Granactive retinoid is a complex of solubilized Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR). HPR has been seen to exhibit better anti-aging characteristics with less risk of irritation compared to standard Retinol.

What is Squalane?

Squalane is a fantastic natural non-comedogenic oil derived from olives. (Read more about Squalane, it’s benefits and the ethics of it’s extraction). Squalane has various benefits for the skin, including excellent hydrating qualities which can soothe dry skin and minimise signs of aging.

A common side effect of Retinol treatments is dry skin. The addition of squalane in this retinol serum ensures this is minimised.

Read Before Using

Typical side effects of Retinol and it’s alternatives include:

  • Redness and sensitivity
  • Irritation and inflammation
  • Peeling
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight

As always, make sure you patch test the product prior to use on a small inconspicuous area of skin.

The Results

I’m no beginner when it comes to using Retinol serums, so my skin responded really well to this serum upon first application. The serum is lightweight, non-comedogenic, and sits well on top of Hyaluronic Acid. I always recommend using Hyaluronic Acid before/underneath Retinol serums as it decreases risk of irritation, and provides additional anti-aging benefit. I applied this serum daily, but if you’re only just starting off with Retinol, perhaps only use it 2-3 times a week until your skin builds up a tolerance.

The goal with any Retinol solution is to ultimately reduce visible signs of aging. These typically include fine lines and wrinkles around the forehead, eye and mouth areas, and enlarged pores. If you’re anything like me and overly expressive, you’ll know all about wrinkles in the above areas. Now, one of the few things that can stop those wrinkles from forming in the first place is, as you’re probably aware, botox. But this is not always an option, especially if you’re frightened of having needles poking your delicate facial skin.

Retinol is therefore what many turn to, including myself, to battle those pesky wrinkles without having to break the bank. Non-prescription retinoids (including this retinol serum) typically show good results at the 3 month mark.

The Verdict (After 90 Days)

  • Minimised Pore Size: 6/10
  • Reduced fine lines and wrinkles: 7/10

The combination of Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol serums has worked wonders these past few months. My skin feels plumper and tighter which has reduced the appearance of the fine lines, especially around the forehead area. The deeper wrinkles are mostly unaffected as of yet, but Retinol requires continued use to reap the full benefits. Consistency is key with Retinol, as it will not only reverse signs of aging, but will also prevent those wrinkles and fine lines from becoming so prominent in the first place.

I love this serum, at £9.99 it’s an absolute steal and will be in my skincare collection for the near future.

Get it here, The Inkey List Retinol Serum

– Harris, OBVS. Team


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