the more you know the less you need

the more you know the less you need

Retinol Reform

Retinol Reform

It used to be the case that if you wanted to put your face on an serious anti-ageing regimen, you went to a dermatologist for a Rx.

But this is no longer the only option. Now there are many retinol products available at the beauty department and on the virtual shelves online.

However, retinols can be confusing.

Which one should you choose?


Retin-A ~ (tretinoin a.k.a.  all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)), is retinoic acid. Considered the gold star of anti-ageing but was developed to treat acne.

Retinol ~ is a weak derivative of vitamin A, and in order for your skin to be able to use it, the retinol must be converted into retinoic acid by the body.


  • Stimulates collagen synthesis and increases skin cell turnover
  • Resurfaces the complexion for brighter, firmer, more evenly toned skin
  • Reduces clogged pores
  • Targets hyper-pigmentation, dark spots, and other signs of ageing and sun damage
  • An effective preventative product for warding off fine lines before they begin


  • It’s potent, so start slowly, particularly if you have sensitive or dryness-prone skin
  • Use prescription retinoids in the evening only
  • Use SPF daily. Prescription retinoids can break down in light and make your skin more susceptible to sunburn
  • Don’t mix with highly drying or reactive ingredients like vitamin C/ AHAs/ alcohol / benzoyl peroxide/salicylic acid
  • More is not more. Use a PEA sized amount. Avoid the eye area initially.
  • Be consistent and patient. Your skin cells take 28 days to renew.
  • Don’t give up! Even used once or twice a week it will improve your skin

In a nutshell, Retin A and retinol are skin perfecters. They have skin-transforming powers that you NEED in your skincare arsenal.

But every silver-lining has a cloud. The problem with prescription Retin-A (Tretinoin) is that it causes dryness, irritation, redness, and peeling, so don’t start out with the highest strength thinking you’ll just leapfrog to the benefits. Big, big mistake. Begin with lower concentrations like 0.05% and 0.025% and do not apply daily.

Are the upsides worth the downsides?

Yes, but you don’t have to wreck havoc on your face to get results. Although OTC retinols are weaker, and take longer to work, you will see an improvement and they don’t have the same severity of side-effects.

In Part One of this retinol series,we start with one of the most famous cult products, and the secret behind many of Hollywood’s flawless faces.




Shani Darden, Hollywood’s A-List esthetician, whose clients include Jessica Alba, Chrissy Teigen and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, developed a retinol product called Retinol Reform.

Image via Durban Get It Magazine
Image via Durban Get It Magazine

Although it was launched in 2013, the product—and the maker—rose to fame last year when Kim Kardashian Snapchatted it as her favourite retinol.

Shani Darden’s skincare philosophy is less is more.

In the morning I use a gentle cleanser followed by an antioxidant serum and a sunscreen. I never leave the house without first applying an SPF 30. In the evening I cleanse, apply Retinol Reform, and moisturise. I use a light chemical exfoliant weekly.

~ Shani Darden, Harper’s Bazaar

She advocates a simple, effective approach including retinols:

I personally think everyone should be on retinol if they can handle it. It can totally turn your skin around.

~ Shani Darden, The Cut



Retinol Reform is a simple, elegant, and versatile formula for all skin types. It features active ingredients retinyl propionate and lactic acid which are proven anti-acne ingredients. It is unfragranced, silicone-free and oil-free, and contains 5% retinol and 5% lactic acid.



Deionized Water, Retinol (vitamin A propionate), Aloe Vera, Glycerth-26, Octyl Dimethyl, Polysorbate-80, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lactate, Sodium PCA, Niacinamide, Sodium Benzoate, Quaternium-15, Inositol, Lactic Acid



My experience is based on using one, 1 oz (30ml) bottle of RR.


  • My skin looked smooth and glowy while using it.
  • Since my skin is acclimatised to retinol, I was able to use it nightly with absolutely no irritation.
  • The formula is super lightweight, certainly not oily—it vanishes almost instantly into the skin. Those with oily skin would LOVE the texture.The directions advise following with a moisturiser.


  • It’s expensive: $100 /oz.
  • The inclusion of octyl dimethyl, polysorbate-80, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate and quaternium-15
  • More proven ingredients for anti-acne than anti-ageing


I think Retinol Reform is geared towards those dealing with breakouts or acne, and as a preventative for delaying the signs of ageing. It is worth noting that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is 30-years old; Jessica Alba is 36; and Kim Kardashian West is 37. Darden herself is 42, and says she’s been using a retinol since she was 23.

Image via Look Magazine
Image via Look Magazine


Since I don’t have oily or acne-prone skin, and am in my late 50s, Retinol Reform didn’t turn out to be my holy grail retinol.

The search continues.

Resurface Retinol Reform Available At: Shani Darden; Gee Beauty; Amazon

2 thoughts on “Retinol Reform”

  • Thank you so much for this post! A lady I know uses retinol and while she’s 50 year old looking at her skin alone I would think she’s in her late 30s. I’m 27 with very resilient skin but guess I should start using anti-aging products soon. I’m still hesitating about retinol, I’m afraid once I use it I’ll be too paranoid to go out under the sun.

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