The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

We love products by the Deciem group here at Obviously Skincare. Not only are these products cheap as chips, they’re also highly effective. We’ve previously reviewed The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid 2% solution as well as their Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% solution, it’s time we reviewed their Retinol 1% solution in Squalane.


The Ordinary – Retinol 1% in Squalane claims to “reduce the appearances of fine lines, of photo damage and of general skin aging”. Retinol is the working ingredient in this formulation, also known as Vitamin A. The Ordinary also do weaker forms of the solution, retinol 0.5% and retinol 0.2% are available for those that are just starting out with the product.

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.

Pure forms of retinoic acid are available for purchase, but you should note that these are significantly harsher on the skin and have the potential for more side effects.

Retinol Chemical Formula

What is squalane?

Squalane is a non-comedogenic oil derived from olives. It has various benefits for the skin including excellent hydration which can plump the skin and minimise fine lines and wrinkles.

A common side effect of retinol is that it can dry the skin, the addition of squalane in this product aims to counter this dryness to keep your skin hydrated and protected.


Typical side effects of retinol include; skin peeling; redness; irritation and inflammation. You’ll likely experience the side effects if this is the first time you’re using this product; it can take a couple of weeks to fully adjust.

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

The Results

My goal when using this retinol solution by the ordinary is to minimise the fines lines and wrinkles around the forehead, eye area and the mouth area. I’ve a bad habit of being a little to expressive with my face and this has led to the development of fine lines around these areas. I also have enlarged pores around my T-zone which I would like to lessen the appearance of, fingers crossed. I’ll be applying this retinol solution every night to my face after cleansing for a period of 90 days.


The Ordinary recommend that this retinol solution in squalane be applied at night only. Retinol can increase sensitivity to sunlight, not to mention sunlight can reduce the effectiveness of the serum; this is why it comes it a dark, amber-coloured dropper bottle. Having applied this for one night, I woke up with slightly puffy, red skin. My skin was also a little drier than usual. I wasn’t alarmed however, these are very common side effects when retinol is first used and will often take a few weeks to subside.


My skin is feeling sensitive and is still drier than usual. I’m experiencing redness around some pores. So far not much difference in reduction of fines lines or pores, but often it can take up to 2 months to see changes. Yep, we’re in it for the long run with this product. Anytime my skin feels a little too dry I’ll use a hyaluronic acid serum to restore lost moisture.

DAY 30

At about week 2 my skin adjusted well to the product; skin redness and irritation was at a minimum and any peeling that had happened before has subsided at this point. I feel my skin feels a little more plump on the day 30 mark, perhaps a minute difference in the appearance of my forehead lines but not much else going on yet.

Day 90

Roughly 3 months in is where I start to see a visible difference in both the appearance of fine lines, as well as the size of my pores. I feel my skin looks and feels more plump which in turn has minimised the signs of aging around my eyes, forehead and mouth area. While I do see a difference, I wouldn’t call it substantial. To be fair however, 3 months is a fairly short time-frame and to see good results requires continuous use of the product. I’ll update this post when I hit the 1 year mark.

The verdict (after 90 days)

  • Minimised Pores: 6/10
  • Reduced fine lines and wrinkles: 7/10
  • Improved skin tone: 6/10

To see these results after just 90 days definitely make this product worth buying. Just know that you’re in it for the long run with retinol and it requires continued use to see effective results.

Get The Ordinary – Retinol 1% in Squalane Here

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