two white and red plastic bottles

Few beauty ingredients are both widely beloved and debated as retinol. Which percentage is the best? Is it worth the cost to buy non-prescription retinol. Is it worth the extra money? It’s perhaps for that reason that it’s taken. It took Glossier nine years to put their name on one. “When it comes to many skin frustrations, retinoids are that thing – a catch-all ingredient touted for improving nearly everything from texture and blemishes to fine lines and uneven tone,” explains Chenaya Devine-Milbourne, Glossier’s Senior Director of Product Marketing and Development. “We wanted a simpler experience with this most popular skin-care ingredient. It didn’t sacrifice on visible, powerful results but gave you a little more. with Glossier Universal Proretinol.” The debut retinoid from the startup beauty company is now available. I tried an early-bird sample to make sure it was the retinol that I had hoped for.

Glossier Universal Pro-Retinol, $35

two white and red plastic bottles

Retinol has been a great help with my primary skin concerns, which are hyperpigmentation and breakouts. Retinol is able to speed up the skin’s cell turnover. This can help with many skin issues, including fine lines and acne. Prescription retinoid creams like Tretinoin cream were my first choice for treating acne. Glossier’s Retinol felt similar in texture: It was thick but not heavy and it absorbs quickly with a matte texture. When testing a new retinol, the general rule is to ease into it. Experimenting too hard or with too many active ingredients can cause irritation and peeling. Glossier Pro-Retinol was already a familiar product to my skin so I started incorporating it into my daily routine every other evening. Every person reacts differently to retinol, but my skin didn’t experience any irritation or peeling after the first few nights.

Pure retinol 0.5% with sunflower seed fatty acid is the active ingredient. It’s designed to moisturize and soothe. This is where Universal Pro-Retinol’s “universal” comes from. It contains enough active ingredient to make a noticeable difference. However, it is gentle enough for all skin types. Plant-based hydrators, such as glycerin or mondo grass root extract, can also be used to soften the harsher effects associated with retinol.

Although there is no miracle cure for skin problems, I did notice a difference in my skin’s texture and discoloration. It’s not perfect, but it is improving. One thing to note: Since retinol can make your skin photosensitive, always, always, always wear sunscreen during the day (which, you hopefully are already doing) to avoid sunburn and damage. To make it even easier, Glossier has even unveiled two bundles that include Invisible Shield along with the shiny new drop: The Renew + Protect Duo and a second, four-piece kit featuring picks by a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Camille Howard, DO FAAD.

My test with the product was too brief to be visible in photos. Maybe after a month! Glossier has a gallery of photos of the testers’ skins after using the product for a four-week period. There are also customer reviews and a few early-acess customer testimonials. Self-described lazy skincare enthusiast said: “My biggest problem in keeping retinol within my routine is that I’m not very consistent with it!” This means that I am always stuck in the weird peeling stage with most retinol. That’s not a great look. Universal Pro-Retinol’s milder and more hydrating properties mean it is better suited for my routine (more of a random skincare indulgence night, but not really a routine) that other retinols I have tried. It hasn’t caused any irritation or peeling and definitely gave my skin a glow after a few weeks of usage.” One person compared the Universal Pro-Retinol to a magic elixir for skin. ” I was afraid it would have a severe effect on my skin. It was a preview gift that I received and I decided to give it a try still. After about a week, my pores became much smaller. It gave my sometimes dull skin a glow and helped to wake it up.” Glossier reviewers agreed that the Universal Pro-Retinol was a great choice for beginners to retinoids due to its soothing, hydrating and nourishing properties.

woman in black shirt smiling

So, do you actually need it? It really comes down to your skin’s needs and concerns. You may be able to leave this product alone if you have clear skin and don’t care about texture or wrinkles. This is not the product for you if you are looking for a powerful, yet gentle, solution to a wide range of skin concerns. This is a great introduction formula for retinoid-curious patients, both in terms of formula and price. Other than those you can buy at a drugstore, retinols are often very expensive. For less than $40, you can get 1.18 fl. oz. It’s a 35mL bottle, which makes it far more affordable than other similar products. It should last at most a few months if used even once a day. Pro-Retinol has been a great product and I look forward to using it again.