An Honest Review On The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane Serum

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The Ordinary skincare has been a brand that has kept a reputation of producing quality skincare products at a very incredible wallet-friendly price to suits everyone’s budget. As a skincare junkie, and a lover of The Ordinary skincare products, I have decided to give their 1% Retinol serum a trial and give my honest review about it, just like the way I created a day-time & night-time skincare routine using only The Ordinary products, you can read review here.


So, if you’re wanting to use The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane but want to read a review about it before purchasing, then you’re definitely at the right place, because I have used this retinol serum for 2 months, and I think it’s pretty enough to give a review about it.

But before I proceed, let’s know what retinol is.

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and an anti-aging molecule that accelerates skin-renewal, reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, for firmer, smoother and more evenly-toned skin. Retinol belongs to the family of Retinoids which is an umbrella term for all vitamin A derivative ingredients.

As a collagen boosting machine, when applied on the skin, it stimulates collagen production, which plumps out skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol also encourages cellular turnover and encourages new cells growth which in turn treats acne, unclog the pores (allowing your pores to breath) and improves overall skin texture, with a youthful glow.

The Ordinary retinol serum combines retinol in squalane, and if you’re not really aware of what squalane is, then I’ll put you through.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane Serum

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What Is Squalane?

Squalane is a plant derived or hydrogenated oil which is used in its pure form or in cosmetic formulations for moisturizing, hydrating and soothing the skin.

Traditionally, squalene (with an “e“) is derived from shark liver oil — yes, the shark you know (the ocean animal), it is also present in human skin, it is a lipid fat, that is naturally produced by the oil glands in our skin to hydrate and maintain the barrier of our skin. But because sourcing began endangering the shark species, plant derived version of squalene was discovered, which is squalane (with an “a“).

Squalane oil mimics our natural skin oil, which means when it’s applied on the skin, the skin recognizes it and takes it as its own, our skin understands and compliments it. So, if you’re scared or worried that squalane is going to break you out, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about, because that is never going to happen. Squalane oil is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and is suitable for use on all skin types. It has excellent emollient properties, meaning it can keep your skin hydrated and moisturized.

It exhibits excellent emollient potential and a great moisturizer as it easily absorbs and prevents water loss from the skin. One of the reasons why squalane is a great moisturizer and penetrates deep into the skin is because our skin recognizes it instantly and takes it in as one of its own.

This retinol serum also contains other skin moisturizing and soothing ingredients to minimize irritations, ingredients such as; Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato Fruit Extract) and Simmondsia Chinensis Extract (Jojoba Seed Oil).

  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: Derived from coconut oil and glycerin, it’s considered an excellent emollient and skin-replenishing ingredient. It’s included in cosmetics due to its content of fatty acids that skin can use to replenish its surface and resist moisture loss. Caprylic/capric triglyceride can also function as a thickener, and can work as a preservative of sorts to make the active ingredients in cosmetics last longer, but its chief job is to moisturize and replenish skin. This ingredient’s value for skin is made greater by the fact that it’s considered gentle.
  • Triglyceride, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato Fruit Extract): Incredible for its skin soothing potentials which will help calm the skin of redness and dryness thereby minimizing or possibly preventing the irritation effect of retinol.
  • Simmondsia Chinensis Extract (Jojoba Seed Oil): Jojoba Oil is the liquid wax found in the seeds of the Simmondsia Chinensis Plant. Its structure is different than most other oils because it is biocompatible. That means it absorbs into the skin really easily. It’s rich in vitamin E, zinc, iodine, and other nourishing antioxidants. Jojoba oil is also a great humectant and emollient which means it possesses the attributes of both humectants and emollients by moisturizing and sealing your skin with a protective barrier to keep it from losing moisture. Having jojoba oil in combination with retinol won’t only go a long way to curtail irritations, but also nourish and moisturize your skin.


The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane comes in a UV protective packaging, that is to say it comes in a dark-brown dropper glass bottle to protect retinol from direct sunlight which is known to fasten its degradation or oxidization.


The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane has an oily texture just like squalane, consider it an oil-based serum. Texture is light-weight, but a bit greasy (especially when you apply too much).
2-3 drops is ok for the whole face and neck, unless you think otherwise (although I use 4 drops).
The fact that it spreads effortlessly makes me love the texture, it glides smoothly on the skin, but takes a while to absorb (but definitely absorbs). You can make a mixture of some drops of retinol serum (2-3 drops) with your moisturizer (1-2 pumps) in the palm of your hands before applying, this will enable faster absorption and less greasiness.


The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane takes a light orange color.


  • 30ml.


Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, BHT.

My Honest Review On The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

While using The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane I started noticing positive results on my skin texture the first two weeks. But I had to relax and use it a little longer to get a precise review.

Performance On Skin Texure.

At first two weeks of usage, my pore size improved, pals this is no joke, i saw my skin texture improving every single day with an enhanced radiance. Infact, I felt like I had a surgery done, my skin has never felt this firm, supple, soft and smooth.

Performance On Acne.

At the time of using The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane on my skin, I had no existing acne at that moment, so I can’t tell for sure its efficacy on acne, but at the time of usage I never had any iota of acne breakouts, unlike me who usually use to have some new acne mostly on my cheeks area. I guess the retinol serum prevented future occurrence.

Performance On Skin Tone.

My skin tone was improved I must say. But to be honest there was no dramatic change but their was indeed an improved radiance and glow. I could tell the difference from my nose because it looked more brighter than before.

Did Irritations Occur?

I only had redness (and no shedding or peeling) which I control by using The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide serum in the morning. Niacinamide has been great in calming down my redness from retinol. Of course that’s part of its function to the skin.

You can combine niacinamide and retinol in the same night routine. Niacinamide will do well to calm down irritation and redness caused by retinol and also improve skin barrier function and also minimize large pores (especially for oily skin).
I only used retinol alone (without using alongside niacinamide serum) just to get an accurate review on The Ordinary 1% Retinol in Squalane. but in my normal nightly skincare routine, I combine niacinamide and retinol.

If you’re new to retinol, i advice you should start from a lower concentration. The Ordinary has provision for that, which is, The Ordinary 0.2% Retinol in Squalane, gradually as your skin builds tolerance to retinol you can increase to The Ordinary 0.5% Retinol in Squalane. If you feel the need to upgrade to the 1% strength, then you can go ahead so far as your skin can take it.

What I Like About The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

  • Fragrance-free.
  • Very effective and potent.
  • Contains pure 1% retinol serum.
  • Comes in a dark-glass dropper bottle to protect retinol from direct sunlight.

What I Dislike About The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

  • Feels slight-greasy on the skin (you can mix with your moisturizer prior to application to curtail the slight-greasy feeling). 

Possible Questions & Answers.

Q: How did you use The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane on your skin?

A: After cleansing with a mild facial cleanser, while my skin is moist or damp, I follow up with my Hada Lobo Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, then I apply 4 drops of The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane on my entire face and neck (1 drop on my forehead, 1 drop on my nose, and 1 drop each on both cheeks), and finally seal-off with a moisturizer. My skin can handle it because I’m not new to retinol (and retinoids). However, if you’re new to retinol it’s highly advised to ease your way into using it. You can start with 2 drops on the entire face.

Note: As I mentioned above, I used this procedure just to get a precise review on The Ordinary 1% Retinol in Squalane. However in my regular skincare routine, I cleanse and pat my face with a clean towel (not towelling-off completely) while my skin is damp or moist I apply my hyaluronic acid serum then apply niacinamide serum then follow up with retinol serum and finally apply my moisturizer.

Q: How often do you use The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane on your skin?

A: I use it every night (at night only), because my skin has already built tolerance to retinol. But if you’re new to retinol, we advice you should ease your way into retinol. Use retinol at a pea-size (2 drops) twice or thrice weekly, start from lower percentage, then move your way up as your skin builds tolerance.

UP NEXT: Take A Look At Our Pick On The Best Retinol Serums On The Market.
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