The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane Review

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

There are 7 Retinol/Retinoid options from The Ordinary, but my personal favorite is Retinol 0.5% in Squalane (1 0z/30 mL for $5.80 USD) can be purchased here. This category will probably be different based on where each person is on their Retinol Journey. Beginners should definitely start out on the Retinol 0.2% in Squalane option, as its strength is lower. I have been using Jordan Samuel Skin Etoile with Retinol Treatment Oil for almost 5 months now, which is 0.2%. While I love, love that oil, some nights I want to step up my game!

Why Use Retinol?

Retinol is generally used for signs of aging. I have noticed a loss of firmness in my skin over the past few years. Basically since I turned 30…eek! I glanced in the mirror one day and was like “why is the skin on my jaw hanging down like this?!” That’s why I use retinol. While most 20 year olds may not see a need for a product like this, Retinol does have many benefits for skin that some younger adults may like to take advantage of. Retinol can be used for many skin concerns; fine lines, uneven skin tone, noticeable texture, minimizing pores, reversing sun damage…general signs of aging.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

How does Retinol work?

Retinol works by telling our once youthful, healthy cells to regenerate and make new cells. Retinol can actually regenerate new cells by speeding up the cell renewal process by making surface cells die quickly then they are replaced with healthier looking, new cells. This is helpful for hyperpigmentation and also enlarged pores by getting rid of the damaged cells and stimulating new ones. Retinol also helps prevent the breakdown of collagen, which lets face it, happens to the best of us! Our skin thins as part of the normal aging process, Retinol helps prolong this by thickening the deepest layer of skin. The results of this magic ingredient? Smoother, firmer, even tone, smaller pores, and healthier looking skin.

Having experience with Jordan Samuel’s Retinol oil made me realize; I love using retinol in oil form. It feels like a treat for my skin rather than a chore! Plus, I don’t have to worry about products piling on top of my retinol that is typically a lotion texture. I just use it as the very last step of my routine, and the squalane moisturizes my skin. Treatment and moisturizer? Double win.

Two new treatment oils from The Ordinary, Retinol 0.5% and Retinol 1.0% in Squalane.
The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane & Retinol 1% in Squalane.

The consistency of the Retinol 0.5% in Squalane feels just like the  100% Plant-Derived Squalane, that I love! It has a slightly different smell to it, but it feels like the same dry oil I know and love. I apply it to my face, neck and chest at nighttime only and wake up with baby smooth skin. I have been struggling recently with some texture issues on my cheeks. I believe this product is exactly what my skin needed to sort this issue out. I only use the 0.5% a couple of nights a week MAX, and use the Etoile with Retinol the other nights. I feel like the next sentence MUST be said, even if you personally have heard it 100 times before. Don’t forget to protect your skin with spf when using Retinol. You don’t want to jeopardize that brand new skin by damaging it with the sun!

Some people will not be able to tolerate retinol, at any concentration, every night of the week. The retinol I used previously was 1% concentration, so now using lower concentrations nightly work for my skin. The biggest difference between the high concentration retinol and the lower concentrations is little to no retinol side effects. You know, peeling, dry, flaky, red skin? Nope, none of that. I believe this is due to the lower concentrations of retinol used consistently instead of one night a week at a very high concentration. The saying “slow and steady wins the race,” definitely applies here! Another important factor in decreasing side effects from Retinol is the use of barrier repairing serums. I will be doing a post on those soon, because I believe those products are very important for everyone, but even more so when using Retinol products!

The Ingredients

The formula contains a few more ingredients besides Retinol and squalane, but only four.

My favorite new product from The Ordinary, Retinol 0.5% in Squalane. A retinol treatment oil that addresses a multitude of skin concerns.
My favorite new product from The Ordinary, Retinol 0.5% in Squalane. A Retinol treatment oil that addresses a multitude of skin concerns.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is a fatty acid that is made from coconut oil and glycerin. Much like squalane, it is known to be lightweight and non-greasy. It is an emollient, but also a dispersing agent used to evenly spread out active ingredients within a solution. Jojoba seed oil, a commonly loved ingredient in skincare products is also present. Its benefits are widely known, so to be brief it has skin soothing properties and contains fatty acids to replenish skin. This is especially important in a formulation like a retinol product when there is a possibility of irritation. Another ingredient, tomato extract, has skin conditioning properties. However in Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary they site research that the extract has some antioxidant capabilities, but can be a sensitizer.

Full Ingredient List: Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, BHT.

But Why?

While I respect Deciem offering their opinion regarding Retinol on this product’s description, I would appreciate if they explain the product itself instead of recommending other retinoid options from the brand. Everyone has their own skincare theory, and it is a very personal journey. While I acknowledge this product I am reviewing today may not be for everyone, the information I provide may be helpful to people who don’t use pure retinol. The reason I even mention this is because I was looking for an explanation as to why they included tomato extract in this formula. Instead of finding an answer to my query, I found a ton of information on why retinol can cause irritation. I also learned that Deciem recommends using the other retinoid products they offer….four separate times in the product description for Retinol 0.5% in Squalane. SO why even make a product that contains pure retinol if the brand does not recommend using it? They made it anyway, and now when a consumer reads information about The Ordinary’s retinol products, the company recommends another option? Talk about confusing! It’s like customers who do choose to use retinol are shamed for their choice?!

Sorry I went off on a small tangent there, I felt like I had to be fully transparent in my research process for this product! At the end of the day whenever I use Retinol 0.5% in Squalane, the product description page could be blank and I would still use it. I love the texture of the oil. I love the results from using this product. A concentration of 0.5% once or twice a week and 0.2% on other nights is what works for me. Surprisingly, it took me a long time to figure that out! I have been using retinol since 2014! I had to experiment with different concentrations, products, and using at different frequencies to find this balance. Just be patient and listen to your skin. This may not be the right concentration for your skin, but it is a great product!

I hope you enjoyed this post! In the comments I would love to hear what concentration of Retinol works best for your skin! You can read about my other favorites and recommendations from The Ordinary here. Thank you so much for reading and Stay Happy & Beautiful!



Where to Buy:

Retinol 0.5% in Squalane can be purchased at the following retailers:

The Ordinary’s Website

Cult Beauty 

Victoria Health


The Ordinary is now available at Sephora! Hopefully they will add the full line soon, so I would keep an eye out!


Other Fabulous Posts:

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone

The Ordinary Acids: Which One Is Right For Me?

The Ordinary Routine for Acne Prone Skin

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

NIOD re:Pigment Review

The Pore Plunger: The New Paula’s Choice 4% BHA



**Deciem affiliate links are included in this post, if you choose to support my blog and purchase products through one of my links, at no additional cost to you, I am very grateful! All of the products mentioned I purchased myself and as always my opinions and experience is honest, unbiased, and completely unrelated to my affiliate relationship with Deciem.
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