Retinol is one of skincare’s most beloved ingredients, known best for its anti-ageing and rejuvenating effects. It's strong and that's what gets results - but is it safe to be using on our eye area, the most delicate area of our face? We sat down with Angelina Veljanoski, Director at Skin Angel, Skin and Laser Clinic in Melbourne, to delve in further.


Retinol is an ingredient that can effectively boost collagen production and in turn, help smooth fine lines and prevent wrinkles, making it a great ingredient to use around the eye area, Angelina tells us. “It’s an ingredient that can re-firm and rejuvenate the thin skin in that area. It induces collagen synthesis and elastin production and helps restore a healthy cellular turnover.”

“It also encourages vasoconstriction rather than vasodilation to strengthen the capillary network reducing vascular damage.”

This makes retinol a winner ingredient, but as anybody who’s used a retinol product too strong for their skin type would know, it can also be quite irritating. Hence why it’s best to proceed with caution.


Angelia says it’s important to first build up a tolerance to retinol. “I always prescribe my clients to begin using a 0.25% retinol formulation then build to 0.5% and then increase again to the 1%. In order to avoid irritation, it’s important to slowly drip feed retinol into the skin. Use every third night for the first two weeks then build up to every second night the following two weeks – then increase to every night as the skin strengthens.”

However, Angelina warns that if somebody is prone to eczema or psoriasis around their eye area, then it’s important they treat the inflammation first and strengthen the barrier prior to incorporating a retinol product.

“I would recommend hyaluronic acid and essential fatty acids to first repair the skin’s barrier, and peptides to strengthen. Generally, I would recommend everyone who is concerned with ageing around their eyes to start with a gentle retinol formulation as prevention.”

This is also why it’s important to use retinol products formulated especially for the skin under the eye, and not just one made for the rest of the face.

“The skin in the periorbital area is a lot thinner, and there are more blood vessels, making it more delicate,” Angelina tells us. “The difference between a retinol formulation for the eye area compared to that of the face is firstly, the strength, and secondly, the actives present within the formulation.”


When to start? She suggests anybody in their mid-twenties onwards jump on the retinol bandwagon.

I would suggest in your mid-twenties – incorporating an eye cream with retinol into your skincare regimen every evening to maintain vitamin A presence within the cell.”



If you have tried retinols and find them too irritating, or know you have sensitive skin and don’t want to risk using one, there are also alternatives.

Angelina tells us to look for liquid crystals and spin trap in our products, as they’re both Nobel prize winning ingredients and recommends skin-firming peptides as well.

Liquid Crystal is moisturising as it slowly drip feeds hydration into the skin throughout the day while being strengthening and protective. Spin Trap is known as the ‘intelligent’ antioxidant used to detect and identify free radicals. This is unique as it doesn’t allow the free radicals to damage the cell by taking on the free radical on its own.

Peptides are naturally occurring proteins – they signal to your cells to make collagen and cellular changes that lead to DNA synthesis and mitosis for cellular growth, proliferation and repair.


While retinol is a highly effective skin ingredient, Angelina does say it’s best to avoid using acids around the eye area all together.

“Remember your skin around the eye area is as delicate as tissue paper so if you use acids on the area it can become dehydrated and crepey very quickly. BHAs will easily dry out the skin, and while the role of AHAs is to exfoliate the skin to increase cellular turnover, using retinol will increase cellular regeneration and is a better ingredient to use. It has rejuvenation processes, is much more gentle and has so many further advantages.”

The bottom line? Just remember to start small and increase as required. Or patch test first to see if a retinol eye cream is right for you.

Story by Yadira Galarza Cauchi. Holding shot image credit: Instagram @sannevloet

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