Instytutum Retin Oil – the problem with Instytutum skincare reviews

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I have published quite a few Instytutum Skincare Reviews already, but while I love the brand, I need to get something off my chest:

An online version of the ingredient list is incredibly hard to find!
A complete one, that is, one that doesn’t highlight the “key ingredients” only (whatever that may mean anyway). The website is no help here, not many retailers carry the brand and it isn’t as widely known that I could just copy and paste from another blog. (Only the ingredient list of course, I would never copy the whole review, pinky promise!)


Instytutum Retin Oil Review
Instytutum Retin Oil


So what am I left with? Slowly typing away, packaging in one hand, eyes squinted to be able to read all the small letters… I guess it is time to have my eyes checked again. Don’t they say that age-related longsightedness starts around your 40th birthday?

But before we get lost in the joys of growing older, lets get going with the Instytutum Retin Oil Review. Complete with ingredient list!


What Instytutum Retin Oil claims

Unparalleled exceptionally powerful, this Retinol infused regenerating golden Oil will deliver outstanding results. Instantly creates an astonishingly smooth, dewy, plumped and luminous-looking complexion due to the cocktail of 15 precious oils that deeply nourish, softens and hydrate infused with an advanced form of retinol the “miracle” worker as well as a natural like retinol for superior results without the irritating side-effects.

Miraculously diminishes the depth and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, spots, pores, blemishes, and dull, rough looking skin. The anti-aging oil additionally contains Algae extract and Raspberry stem cells and targets all signs of premature and photo-aging. Stimulating the cell renewal process and sloughing away the dead surface skin cells revealing a flawless refined complexion. Boosting density, volume, and firmness by building collagen synthesis and enhanced elasticity while correcting signs of damage caused by the sun it will gradually improve your skin’s resilience.

The deeply penetrative replenishing oil intensively hydrates and stimulates sluggish cells to encourage repair and renewal processes. Delays skin aging as well as premature aging, while soothing, calming and counteracting oxidative stress and neutralizes free radicals.


Instytutum Retin Oil - the product
See the slight golden tint?


Facts about the Instytutum Retin Oil

Prize and size

A glass dropper bottle that shows the beautiful golden oil inside. Wait, a see through glass bottle? Isn’t that bad when it comes to retinol? After all we know that it is extremely sensitive to UV exposure, which is why it should only be used at night.
Not in this case. The Instyutum Retin Oil does not (despite the claim) contain retinol, but granactive retinoid and bakuchiol (more on these later when we discuss the ingredients).
Like all Instytutum Skincare products it is on the pricey side (110 € for 30 ml here), but as you only need a few drops, it should last you at least six months.


Texture and smell

Oily. Not surprising when you look at the ingredient list that mainly consists of oils, but different to other retinol products I have tried. The scent is oily too, it reminds me of olive oil used in the kitchen, though it is slightly different. Not my favorite scent, I admit, but not off-putting either.


Application and effects

While the Instytutum Retin Oil could be used both morning and night, I don’t think the texture will lend itself to daytime use. Applied after cleansing the skin, I don’t feel the need to use anything else on top, and I think that will be similar even for dry skin types.
As far as results are concerned, it is hard to tell. My skin is used to strong retinoids, and despite the powerful retinoid claim, this is one of the gentler versions.
Which, on the plus side, makes it less likely to cause irritation and peeling.


Ingredients of the Instytutum Retin Oil

Favorable ingredients
  • Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil: Rich in Vitamin E, emollient
  • Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride: Occlusive
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil: Improves elasticity, emollient, regulates sebum production
  • Bakuchiol: plant based antioxidant with effects similar to retinol
  • Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil: Rich in vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidants, emollient
  • Macadamia ternifolia seed oil: lightweight, moisturizing, high in linoleic acid
  • Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado): Emollient, rich in antioxidant, fatty acids
  • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil: Rich in Vitamin E and linoleic acid, anti-inflammatory
  • Rosa Canina Fruit Oil: Rich in Vitamin C, improves collagen production, lightens pigmentation
  • Bisabolol: Antiinflammatory
  • Cananga Odorata (Ylang-Ylang) Oil: Soothing, antibacterial, rich in antioxidants
  • Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorne) Oil: Emollient, rich in antioxidants, improves skins barrier
  • Borago officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil: Emollient, antiinflammatory, rich in gamma linoleic acid
  • Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate: Ester of retinoic acid (not to be confused with ester from retinol!), binds to the same receptors like retinoic acid. Claims to be less irritating, no independent studies on that yet
  • Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil: Emollient, antioxidant, protects from harsh weather
  • Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca): Emollient, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant
  • Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil: Emollient, anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidant and linoleic acid
  • Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil: Plumping, antioxidant, occlusive
  • Algae extract: rich in antioxidants
  • Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Seed Oil: Emollient, antioxidants
  • Rubus Idaeus Leaf Cell Culture: antioxidant, contains peptides increasing hydration
  • Ascorbyl palmitate: Vitamin C ester, more stable (in this low concentration most likely preservative)
  • Tocopherol: Vitamin E (in this low concentration most likely preservative)
Other ingredients
  • Dimethyl Isosorbide: Solvent, enhances ingredient penetration
  • Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower/Leaf Extract: fragrance
  • Benzoyl Benzoate: Fragrance, solvent
  • Rosemary leaf extract: Fragrance, invigorating
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Preservative
Unfavorable ingredients
  • Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil: essential oil, potentially irritating
  • Linalool, Limonene, Farnesol, Geraniol, Eugenol, Isoeugenol: part of essential oils, potentially irritating
  • Benzyl Salicylacte: fragrance extracted from essential oil, potentially irritating


As you can see, the product does not contain retinol. It contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, which is an ester of retinoic acid (also known as Granactive Retinoid), but not retinol, and Bakuchiol. (If you are going Bakuchi-what now, I have a link for you explaining what Bakuchiol is and how it works).

So while it might have similar effects to retinol, it is not actually one. Both used ingredients are better suited for sensitive skin, and the formula contains quite a few more soothing ingredients, so you might be able to use it without irritation. If you are not sensitive to essential oils, that is, because there are quite a few included.


Does it live up to its claims?


It doesn’t help that the claims are quite over the top here. “Unparalleled exceptionally powerful”, “astonishingly smooth, dewy, plumped and luminous-looking complexion”, these things sound too good to be true. And I reckon they are, not only for this, but for any skin care product out there.
Which shouldn’t take away from what the product actually is: A gentle retinol-like product that will work great for more sensitive and dry skins.


How does it compare to…

Sunday Riley Luna

Sunday Riley Luna was my first ever “retinol” (yes, the inverted commas are necessary), and it is the only one similar to the Instytutum Retin Oil that I have come across so far. Both are very gentle, cause barely any irritation and both contain Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate as their active. Oh, and both are face oils as opposed to creams.

The Sunday Riley Luna is a little easier to get hold of, but the Instytutum Retin Oil contains Bakuchiol.

You can read my full review on Sunday Riley Luna here.


Instyutum Truly Transforming Eye Cream

Now that is kind of an odd comparison, as they don’t have that much in common that lends too them being compared. Both are by the brand Instytutum, and the eye cream does contain actual retinol.

Why I am mentioning it here then? Because it is my favorite eye cream ever, and I highly recommend you try it.

You can read my full review on the Instyutum Truly Transforming Eye Cream here.


Would I repurchase?


I use a prescription retinoid for my acne without problems, so I don’t feel the need for a gentler substitute. And while it is possible (and done by a few) to combine Bakuchiol and retinol, I will stick to what works for me.


Who do I recommend it to?

This is a great product for people that have sensitivities to retinol, even the mild over the counter versions. Of course both Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and Bakuchiol don’t rule out irritation completely, but they are less likely to happen.


Instytutum Retin Oil Review
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