Is Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream The Retinol Product for Beginners?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

I get asked this question a lot. I know everyone wants to start with 1%, but that’s way too harsh for most people. You don’t want to trade wrinkles for irritation.

Start with a lower concentration, like 0.3%. It may seem tiny, but it packs a punch. Try Skinceuticals 0.3 Retinol Refining Night Cream if you don’t believe me.

ishonest No.141 - Humectant

No.141 - Humectant

In case you’re thinking, but where can I find that in the UK? Skin Station has you covered. It has Skinceuticals (and plenty of other science-based skincare products) at competitive prices.

Now you know where to get it, how does this retinol cream fare? I’ve put it to the test to find out:

  • What’s In Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream?
  • Texture
  • Fragrance
  • How To Use It
  • Performance & Personal Opinion
  • Who Is This For?
  • Who Is This Not For?
  • Packaging
  • Does Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream Live Up To Its Claims?
  • Price & Availability
  • Do You Need It?
  • Dupes & Alternatives

What’s In Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream?


Duh! The name kinda gave it away. But what is retinol and what does it do for skin?

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A form of Vitamin A, retinol is an antiaging superstar that both treats and prevents wrinkles. It works in three ways:

  1. It has antioxidant properties that destroy the free radicals that cause premature wrinkles and dark spots.
  2. It accelerates cellular turnover (i.e. the skin’s natural exfoliating process), reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles.
  3. It boosts the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm.

Retinol is a powerful weapon. And like all powerful weapons, it’s not without side effects:

  • It can make skin more prone to sun damage (that’s why it’s PM).
  • It degrades (i.e. loses a bit of its effectiveness) when exposed to light and air.
  • It can cause dryness, flaking and irritations.


Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream has a dimethicone (silicone) base.

ishonest No.142 - Humectant

No.142 - Humectant

Dimethicone creates a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss WITHOUT suffocating skin. Its molecular structure is made up of big molecules with wide gaps in between. Skin can still perspire – and retinol get through to your skin – though these gaps.

Plus, dimethicone fills in every nook and cranny in your skin, blurring out pores and making wrinkles look smaller.


Lightweight lotion. Sinks in quickly without leaving a greasy residue behind.


It’s fragrance-free. Good, because retinol already has the potential to be irritating. You don’t want other irritants in the same formula.

How To Use It

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At night, after cleansing. If you’re new to retinol, use it only once or twice a week at first and build up frequency gradually.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Don’t let the name fool you. Skinceuticals 0.3 Retinol Refining Night Cream is a lightweight lotion that feels more like a serum than a cream.

I slather it on right after cleansing and follow it up with a richer moisturiser. If you have very oily skin, this may be all you need. But my combination-more-dry-than-oily skin craves the extra moisture.

Although it has only 0.3% retinol, it packs a punch. I was using it every other day, alternating it with exfoliation, all over my face (eye area included). After a week, my undereye area started to peel...

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

My skin – even that delicate area – can usually tolerate higher concentration of retinol well. But the weather here has been particularly cold last week, so that may have had something to do with it…

But there’s something about Skinceuticals retinol range that feels more powerful than other retinol products out there. I’m not sure if they have a superior delivery system or what, but you do have to be very careful not to overdo them.

As I mentioned, retinol is a powerful weapon. It can make your skin peel, but it also improves its texture a lot. The cream made my skin smoother. My pores look smaller and, with regular use, fine lines slowly start to be less noticeable, too.

Retinol can also help fade discolourations and acne. But I’m not dealing with that (lucky, I know!), so I can’t personally vouch for it.

Who Is This For?

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Retinol newbies who are ready to up their anti-aging game.


Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream comes in a sleek white tube with a pointed tip applicator. It reminds me a little of a medicine. In a way, retinol is a medicine for your skin.

Do You Need It?

If you’re looking for your first retinol product, Skinceuticals 0.3 Retinol Refining Night Cream is well worth a try.


Dupes & Alternatives


Aqua/Water, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Alcohol Denat., Dipropylene Glycol, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Isopropyl Myristate, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Citrate, Boswellia Serrata Resin Extract, Dimethiconol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Bisabolol, Citric Acid, Bht, Propyl Gallate

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