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Article: What Does Retinol Do?

What Does Retinol Do?

What is retinol? And what does retinol do for your skin?

Most skincare enthusiasts and K-beauty lovers are likely to be familiar with this youth-restoring ingredient, retinol. At some point in your K-beauty journey, you have probably heard of this term being thrown around especially as you immerse yourself in the world of ‘well-aging’. Unsurprisingly, many of us swear by this potent ingredient to resolve different skin concerns regardless of our skin types. Let us find out more about why retinol earns a special place in our Korean beauty routines! 

What is retinol?

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A that is often applied topically on the skin, which then converts into retinoic acid as it reacts with the different enzymes found within our skin naturally. It is during this process that the miraculous skin transformation takes place, and different skin concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and scars are wiped out! 

What does retinol do to the skin?

As we know retinol benefits include its powerful anti aging properties, but has it ever occurred to you that this Korean beauty ingredient was first approved for use in those with acne prone skin? This is because retinol works by stimulating cell regeneration, sloughing away dead skin cells which then prevents clogged pores, improves the appearance of scars and leaves the skin looking silky-smooth. In addition, it helps increase the skin’s ability to produce collagen which then leaves a plumping, firming and youthful appearance. So, if you were to ask us, does retinol help acne? or, is retinol good for acne? Our answer is 100% yes!

Generally, you can find retinol in skincare easily in different anti aging and anti wrinkle creams. Retinol cream and retinol serum that we typically use and see can range from as low as 0.025% to something as high as 0.5%, whereas stronger retinols need to be prescribed by dermatologists to ensure that they are highly effective, yet minimizing any side effects on the skin.

How to use retinol?

Retinol | BONIIK Best Korean Beauty Skincare Makeup Store in Australia

Now that we have talked about what is retinol good for, we are certain that you are keen to know how to use retinol safely and effectively. Also, we're going to reveal our top retinol Korean skincare products that you can incorporate into your night time beauty routine.

Why is retinol used at night? This active ingredient provides your skin with exfoliating effects, thereby increasing your skin’s sensitivity towards the sun and other external stimuli in the environment. Hence, it is recommended to use retinol as part of your night time skincare routine to minimise the risk of irritation, and since your skin’s prime time for regeneration is at night, why not boost it with retinol?

How long do retinol products take to work?

With just as little as 0.025%, you can already expect to see results in a number of months depending on how your skin reacts to it. The higher the percentage, the stronger the effect on your skin. But at the same time, those with sensitive skin should be cautious about using higher percentages of retinol as sometimes it may cause redness or increased skin sensitivity. Therefore, we recommend starting with low and gradually increasing the concentration as your skin gets accustomed to using this ingredient.

For those with sensitive skin, we suggest using the ‘retinol sandwich method’ in which you apply your moisturiser, followed by your choice of best retinol serum or retinol cream, and then another layer of moisturiser. This allows more buffer of the retinol product by having an additional layer of product.

Without further ado, here are our top retinol product recommendations:

For the rookies and the regular users...

COSRX The Retinol 0.1 Cream and 0.5 Oil | BONIIK Best Korean Beauty Skincare Makeup Store in Australia

New to retinol? Start with COSRX The Retinol 0.1 Cream. This gentle anti-aging cream is formulated with 0.1% retinol making it a great option if you’re looking to introduce anti-aging care into your routine for the first time. As well as increasing skin cell regeneration, smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines and boosting skin elasticity, the lightweight cream is also enriched with panthenol, adenosine and super Vitamin E to target visible signs of skin damage while maintaining optimal hydration levels.

Formulated with 0.5% pure retinol, COSRX The Retinol 0.5 is best recommended for those with non-sensitive skin and users who have worked up a tolerance to retinol. This highly concentrated face oil boosts collagen production to help fade fine lines and wrinkles while promoting a smoother, firmer complexion. As a bonus, it is also formulated with moisturizing squalane and anti-inflammatory Vitamin E – a superpower duo which work to nourish the skin barrier and help with hydration and suppleness!

Calm and repair with just 1 product!

INNISFREE Retinol Cica Peptide Repair Ampoule | BONIIK Best Korean Beauty Skincare Makeup Store in Australia

INNISFREE Retinol Cica Peptide Repair Ampoule is a mild, yet highly effective and low irritant facial ampoule formulated with Centella asiatica and retinol that is designed to alleviate breakouts. This concentrated ampoule works by boosting cell regeneration to eliminate dead skin cells, shrink enlarged pores while buffing away rough patches to reveal silky-smooth skin that feels supple to the touch. Using a newly developed formulation to combine all the ingredients while significantly reducing the chance of irritation, this facial ampoule is a great way to start incorporating retinol into your beauty regime.

Anti-aging care without irritation...

SOME BY MI Retinol Intense Reactivating Serum and Sheet Mask

The triple synergistic effects of Retinol, Retinal and Bakuchiol in SOME BY MI Retinol Intense Reactivating Serum allow this serum to deliver immediate effects without irritation to sensitive skin making it a great choice for those looking to kick-start their retinol journey. Expect to see improvements in fine lines and wrinkles, rough patches and enlarged pores.

Prefer a sheet mask to a serum? One of our favourite ways to indulge in a spot of self care is to smooth on a Korean sheet mask, kick back and relax. SOME BY MI Retinol Intense Reactivating Mask is enriched with 10 types of Hyaluronic acid and locks in moisture while improving cell repair and skin elasticity.

Under-eye wrinkle remedy that we swear by!

SOME BY MI Retinol Intense Advanced Triple Action Eye Cream | BONIIK Best Korean Beauty Skincare Makeup Store in AustraliaIt is true that your eyes are always the first to show aging signs, which is why using retinol eye cream australia is highly recommended to fight wrinkles, eyebags and puffiness. SOME BY MI Retinol Intense Advanced Triple Action Eye Cream is a lightweight and fast absorbing 0.1% retinol eye cream enriched with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and panthenol to restore your skin’s vitality. This nourishing eye cream can be used for all skin types, and you can even apply it on other parts of your face that requires more intensive anti aging care such as around the nasolabial area and on your forehead.

Psst… Here’s the secret to well aging

IOPE Retinol Expert 0.1% | BONIIK Best Korean Beauty Skincare Makeup Store in AustraliaSkin aging is a natural, inevitable process that will happen to us all eventually. But this does not stop us from looking younger than our actual age! IOPE Retinol Expert 0.1% is a potent anti wrinkle best retinol serum australia that improves skin elasticity overnight to effectively fight premature aging and increasing skin density by smoothing out your skin. Enriched with a blend of hyaluronic acid and panthenol, it gives the skin a plumping, firm and lifted appearance. Apart from firming and lifting it also helps tighten enlarged, sagging pores for evenly toned skin that looks flawless underneath makeup.

Bakuchiol, retinol’s natural sibling

BY WISHTREND Vitamin A-mazing Bakuchiol Night Cream | BONIIK Best Korean Beauty Skincare Makeup Store in AustraliaSiblings, distant relatives or long-lost cousins? You decide! Bakuchiol is a natural type retinol that is extracted from Babchi plant, providing your skin with the same anti-wrinkle and skin smoothing benefits. Apart from being plant-derived, and packed with natural anti-inflammatory benefits, Bakuchiol has been hailed as the ‘natural alternative to retinol’ because some studies have shown that both bakuchiol and retinol can help significantly improve the appearance of premature aging signs with less stinging or sensitivity on the skin. Therefore, if you are new to retinol, it is a good idea to start with bakuchiol!

Say hello to BY WISHTREND Vitamin A-mazing Bakuchiol Night Cream, a Korean facial moisturiser formulated for night time use to revitalize your skin and bring back that amazing bounciness and smooth texture effortlessly while you sleep. Its creamy, fast absorbing texture increases circulation and promotes collagen production to quickly repair dark spots, uneven skin texture to restore your skin’s healthy glow.

FAQ’s on Retinol

For the final part of this blog, we are here to answer your (burning) questions about retinol to help you clarify any doubts or concerns that you may have while introducing these products to your skincare regime.

Can you use hyaluronic acid with retinol?

Yes, because hyaluronic acid works by reducing the side effects such as irritation that may come with the use of retinol. It also helps maintain and restore optimal hydration levels for that added plumping, dewy and fresh-looking complexion.

Can you use niacinamide with retinol?

Absolutely! Niacinamide has anti-aging and soothing properties, along with anti-inflammatory benefits to fight acne. When combined with retinol, they work synergistically to address enlarged pores, uneven skin tone and eliminate fine lines. 

Can you use retinol and Vitamin C together?

Both Vitamin C and retinol are active ingredients with powerful antioxidant effects on your skin when applied topically. As such, it is not recommended to apply retinol and vitamin C together.

Can you use retinol when pregnant?

Due to the active nature, it is always recommended to speak to your doctor or dermatologist before applying any retinol skincare products during pregnancy.


Consistency and patience are key in maintaining your skin’s youthful complexion with the best retinol skincare. Soon enough, you will see the retinol before and after difference and we can guarantee that it is as satisfying as it gets! Shop retinol for skin in-stores and online at BONIIK, your Korean beauty destination.


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