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In short, retinol is used to reduce visible signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. Over time, skin texture is improved as it stimulates collagen production to plump and firm up skin. Retinol also acts on dullness, speeding up the skin renewal process so skin becomes brighter and more even. Because of its powerful skin renewing action, retinol also helps to clear out blocked pores and reduce the size of open pores.

Many people dread the common side effects – redness, flaky and irritated skin – that retinol-based products of the past used to cause. However these new-gen retinol face oils have formulations that make this super skincare ingredient much better tolerated than before.



Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil, $125 for 30ml (this works out to $4.17/ml)

The face oil is 100% natural, made from organic ingredients grown at the brand’s Vermont farm. Hydrates and nourishes skin for a healthy, glowing complexion while treating the first signs of ageing.

Contains…37% of the formula is made up of rosehip seed oil, a natural source of Vitamin A and Retinoic Acid.

The extras…Neroli balances oil production and smooths roughness. A concentrated blend of plants and berries like alfalfa, elderberry and calendula nourish skin with minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and essential fatty acids.

How to use…Product guidelines state to use one or two pumps on the face and neck after moisturiser – however one pump was still a little too much for me. Gentle enough for both day and night use; this is rare as retinol can cause sun sensitivity. But unless you have extremely dry skin or are a fan of the very dewy look, I’d stick to night time application only.  

Feels like…a rich, pampering oil with a viscous consistency.

Smells like…Extremely strong scent of ylang-ylang. If you or your bed partner does not like this scent, this could be a real problem. To overcome this, I layered a pretty occlusive overnight sleeping mask over this to seal the scent under a layer of mask.

Looks…Pretty oily even after massaging it into skin for a minute. Did give skin a nice rosy look.

Verdict: Better for improving overall skin condition and radiance.

Skin looked much glowier and healthier from the second day onwards. Extremely hydrating as well and balanced out my combination skin nicely so I had a rosy glow the whole time. Took a longer time to refine skin texture – saw results only after nearly two weeks of use. 



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Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, $148 for 35ml (this works out to $4.23/ml)

A night-time treatment oil that has already amassed legions of devotee fans worldwide. This product minimises open pores and wrinkles powerfully while soothing redness and sensitivity at the same time for a more even-toned complexion.

Contains…Trans-retinoic acid ester (retinol) complex, a new form of retinol that’s a bit more gentle than typical retinol formulas.

The extras…Blue tansy and German chamomile essential oils, both rich in soothing blue azulene, to calm skin redness and irritation.

How to use…The instructions state to massage as much of the oil as wanted into skin until the colour turns clear then layer a moisturiser over. I would recommend starting with three drops then increasing the amount used to five drops if your skin can tolerate it. If your skin starts to peel or react to the product, reduce the amount used.

Feels like…A light oil that sank into skin pretty quickly.

Smells like…Faint scent of dried flowers.

Looks…Slightly like a Smurf with the bluish tint that stubbornly refused to go away despite massaging it into skin for a couple minutes.

Verdict: Great if you have skin texture issues or lots of clogged pores.

Great for decongesting pores, this made me break out for the first few days. Thereafter skin felt really smooth with very few bumps. After two weeks, pores looked smaller as well. Being greedy for instant visible results, I started off with six drops every night. This caused quite a bit of surface peeling. I reduced the number of drops to three each time and layered on extra moisturiser, which helped the peeling to stop.