Well hello, it feels lovely to be blogging from somewhere other than my usual desk. I’m typing this on the Greek Island of Ios and if you’ve seen my Instagram Story today you’ll know that it’s blowing a gale – but it’s a lovely warm wind so it doesn’t feel too bad. I have a bit of a different post for you today, it’s all about a new skincare product that I’ve been testing as thoroughly as I can. It’s impressed me so let me tell you more.

Skincare has become ever more complicated over the last few years and sometimes I feel as though I need a science degree to read a beauty page in a magazine now. It’s great that strong, active ingredients are increasingly easy to buy over the counter but the downside is that you can find yourself piling them all on together and then ending up with skin that looks worse rather than better because it’s irritated and inflamed. Ironically, that inflammation then leads to dullness and premature ageing so you really can end up in a worse place than you started if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Until recently the only way to use a strong product such as retinol with a high concentration of active ingredients was to introduce your skin to it gradually and even then a lot of people found it too harsh. Now though, there’s a new, kinder approach that you can take and still achieve the same results. It’s very rare for me to dedicate a whole post to a beauty brand but I’m so impressed with the new retinol product from Kiehl’s that I’ve been testing for the last few weeks that I’m keen to tell you about it. In the interests of transparency, Kiehl’s have commissioned me to write this post but you know I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I hadn’t been able to test the product for at least a full six weeks first and see the results on my own skin. So let me tell you more.

About Kiehl’s

The first time I came across Kiehl’s was on a business trip to New York in the 90s. I was staying in the swanky Soho Grand Hotel and was delighted to discover an eclectic mix of toiletries from New York brands with Kiehl’s being dominant amongst them. Unfortunately it wasn’t available in the UK at the time but they’ve been a key player in New York since they launched in the 1850s as one of the original apothecary brands. Over the years they’ve grown primarily through a generous sampling strategy, ensuring that customers always leave their shops with a few new things to play around with. They have a quiet confidence in their products because experience has shown that people will soon be back to buy whatever they’ve tried.

What’s this amazing new product?

It’s a new Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum. You already know that I’m a big fan of retinol. I rely on it for the effect it has in treating signs of ageing and the sun damage that I’ve done to my skin over the years which is now really starting to show. Whenever I stop using it I find that the wrinkles, age spots and overall dullness seem to get worse by the day.

Tried and tested - a new retinol

Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum

So how is this different to the many other retinols on the market?

It works in a completely different way which is down to Kiehl’s introduction of micro-dosing technology, something that’s been used in the world of medicine for a while but Kiehl’s are one of the first companies to use it in the beauty industry. You see if you have sensitive skin, it can be difficult to tolerate retinol and Kiehl’s found that people often stop using it quite quickly because it tends to cause peeling, dryness and irritation. So they looked into it further and now feel confident that they’ve come up with a product that can be applied every day with none of the usual side effects, even if you have sensitive skin.

Dr Nancy Ilaya, Kiehl’s Global Scientific Director gives the best outline of microdosing technology explaining that the reason it’s often used in medicine and drug development is because it allows ingredients to be delivered in precise, fractional amounts. When used medicinally, microdosing enables a drug to be given to a patient at a low but effective dose to minimise side-effects. In this retinol product it means that the rate of skin cell turnover is gradual and gentle which avoids the drying effect that standard retinol has but it’s still able to deliver the same skin boosting results. This is despite the fact that it contains pure retinol which is the purest form of retinol that you can buy over the counter.

There are extra benefits too because there isn’t just one principle ingredient in the serum but three. As we’ve already said, the retinol promotes skin surface renewal via increased cell turnover. At the same time, it’s being cushioned by Ceramides which increase the skin’s tolerance to the retinol and it’s this cushioning that means you don’t have to take the old process of introducing it very slowly. Beneath all of this, Peptides are working to improve elastin reserves and make the skin more receptive to the active ingredients, supporting the cell repair process along the way. Because of the way that all three ingredients work together the serum can be used day or night and it’s suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin.

Tried and tested - a new retinol

Clinical trials showed that out of 132 women in a consumer trial, 85% said their skin looked years younger but how did it work for me?

Tried and tested - a new retinol

Tried and tested – a new retinol – the results on me

I’ve taken as scientific approach as I could to trialling this skincare at home. Before I began, I stopped using my usual retinol product for three weeks until my skin felt as though it had lost most of the benefits. Since then I’ve been testing Kiehl’s Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum every day for the last six weeks and I deliberately haven’t changed anything else in my skincare regime. One of the questions I had was whether I’d have to leave any of my other usual products out but the serum has no negative reactions to other ingredients such as salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid or Vitamin C so it slots straight in with any products that you already love.

Although this serum can be used either morning or night, I know that retinol can break down quickly in sunlight so given that it was high summer when I started, I’ve been using it at night. It has a really lovely texture; whereas other retinols I’ve used have felt immediately drying this one was actually moisturising (presumably because of the Ceramides) and I had to check whether it was intended to be used with night cream or without. You can use it with cream and because it soaked in immediately I was able to add moisturiser on top straightaway without waiting 20 minutes for it to activate as I had to with my other retinol.

I’ve been using it for a total of eight weeks now but we took these photos at six weeks before we went away so that I didn’t have any additional benefits from sunkissed skin. So what difference have I I noticed? Well it’s been gradual, I didn’t suddenly wake up one day and look ten years younger but of course I was already a regular retinol user so that was never going to happen. And the thing I like about working with Kiehl’s is that they are as exacting as me, stipulating that all photographs had to be taken without any make-up and that there was to be no retouching. I don’t use filters or airbrushing anyway as you know so that was fine but no make-up was a bit daunting and I was glad I’d had my eyelashes dyed for our holiday in Newcastle. Anyway here goes!


Reviewing Kiehl's retinol serum

This picture was taken straight after our Newcastle holiday so I was pretty well rested. Before we go on I should say that I didn’t realise that you could use the serum under your eyes until I was about 3 weeks in so any improvements in that area are lagging behind the rest.


Kiehl's retinol before and after pictures

There is a principle difference here that I should mention first because I’ve lost a bit of weight and it shows in my face. However if you look at the area underneath my eyes it appears a little less wrinkly and I think my skin’s texture looks fresher overall.


Kiehl's retinol review pictures

In this picture I notice that there are fine lines as well as crows feet at the edge of my eye. If you look at the spot where the nose meets the eye there are fine lines there too.


Kiehl's retinol results

Although the deep crows feet are still there, 6 weeks later the finer lines appear less pronounced at the edges of the eye and also at the top of the nose. The texture of the skin towards the hairline appears to have improved too.


Tried and tested - a new retinol

There are clear horizontal lines right across the extent of my forehead in the before shot.


Kiehl's retinol after pictures

Six weeks later this is probably the biggest change in my view, the lines appear much softer and the pigmentation spot above the eyebrow on the right seems to have faded a little.


Tried and tested - a new retinol

I’ve been really aware of the increasing crepiness of my neck over the last year or so.


Tried and tested - a new retinol - Kiehl's review

Although the lines are still there, the crepiness appears to have improved

So I have to say that although the changes are subtle and I may not have noticed them if I hadn’t been doing this review and taking the close-ups, they’re still there. And this was just after six weeks of use, Kiehl’s twelve-week research programme showed that improvements continued to show at the same rate so I’ll definitely keep on using it. If I hadn’t already been a regular retinol user there would probably have been an even more marked difference in my skin’s appearance.

Younger looking skin routine

I’ve enjoyed using the retinol product so much that I’m now moving on to Kiehl’s ‘younger looking skin’ routine. I didn’t want to introduce these products until I’d finished testing the retinol just in case the skewed the results but I will now. They include:


To be used in order from left to right…

Kiehl's younger looking skin

Cannabis Cleanser; Daily Refining Milk Peel Toner; Vitamin C Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate; Super Multi-Corrective CreamUltra Light UV Defence


Tried and tested - a new retinol

Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil; Daily Refining Milk Peel Toner; Retinol Serum; Midnight Recovery Concentrate; Super Multi-Corrective Cream (optional depending on whether skin needs moisturiser on top of toner and serums)

So there you go, tried and tested – a new retinol. As I said at the beginning it isn’t often that I dedicate a whole post to skincare but I hope you can see why I’m impressed by the Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum. Just think, if you started using it now, you too might see some subtle differences by the end of the year – there’s just enough time left to get a result. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back again next Friday, as I said, I’m typing this under an olive tree in Ios but we’ll be on a different island by then. I hope the sun’s shining on you all in the UK as it is on us here. Oh and thanks also to everyone who’s kept me company on Instagram – I’m enjoying our chats.

Disclosure: “Tried and tested – a new retinol that I’m happy to recommend” was commissioned by Kiehl’s but I wouldn’t have written this review if I hadn’t been so pleased with the results.