As someone who hates jumping on a bandwagon, I often – to my detriment – avoid new beauty products that are generating a lot of buzz. (I know, it makes no sense.) That’s why it has taken me a whole year to try No7’s Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate, which you probably heard about back when it launched last May. It attracted a waiting list of 100,000 before it was even available to buy, has had rave reviews, and has become Boots’s best-selling retinol product. So… pretty good then.
We all know the benefits of retinoids. From treating acne to stimulating collagen and elastin production to helping improve uneven skin tone, it is one of the most effective active ingredients in skincare. There are many different types, from retinol to retinaldehyde, and dermatologists recommend incorporating some form of the ingredient into your skincare routine as collagen levels start to decline, which happens absurdly early at around the age of 27. (You can, of course, start using it earlier.)
The tricky thing with retinoids, however, is that they are known to irritate the skin. Since I am emphatically not willing to suffer for results, I seek out intelligent products that work hard, which is why I love this ultra-light (and affordable – it is £34), cream. Containing 0.3 per cent retinol, it cleverly occupies the sweet spot between a concentration that actually works and one that doesn’t irritate the skin, meaning I haven’t experienced any flakiness, redness or itching while using it. That is, in part, because it cleverly gets delivered directly into the skin – encapsulation technology takes it through the skin barrier and allows the retinol to be absorbed quickly. Hello, fast results.
“For a long time, the perception was that the higher the percentage of retinol in a product, the better it works,” Dr Mike Bell, head of science at the brand, explains. “However, our breakthrough scientific research with our partners at the University of Manchester has found that 0.3% retinol delivers virtually the same age-defying benefits as a higher concentration retinol, but with minimum irritation. It is a real game-changer.”
The formula also contains a blend of peptides to improve elasticity (cue plump, glowy skin), as well as an ingredient called bisabolol, which comes from German chamomile and helps to calm, soothe and further mitigate any irritation the product might cause. It works to smooth, soften fine lines and reduce pigmentation, while also giving skin that juicy, youthful glow. So yes, it’s ultra-clever, but besides my increasingly even-toned, healthy-looking skin, I’ve barely registered that I’m using it at all – which is exactly the skincare vibe I am here for.