first aid beauty 0.25% retinol serum review

After experimenting with some of the newer forms of vitamin A, like Retinyl Retinoate (Retinol 8/r-Retinoate) and AHA retinoid conjugate (AHA-RC), I decided it was time to try the one and only Retinol.
I thought the First Aid Beauty’s 0.25% retinol serum would be a good place to start. I haven’t used any regular retinol serums higher than 0.1%. And from what everyone tells you, it’s best to work your way up – to minimize any potential drawbacks that usually comes with Retinol.


first aid beauty 0.25% retinol serum swatch

FAB Skin Lab | Retinol Serum 0.25%

Made for sensitive skin and as a beginner’s Retinol. The 0.25% concentration formula combines pure Retinol with Peptides and soothing extracts to help deliver the benefits of Retinol with minimal irritation.
It’s got the FAB’s proprietary “Skin Saver Complex”, which is compromised of Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C + E, Aloe Vera, Collodial Oatmeal, Allantoin, and Ceramides. Together they help comfort and nourish the skin, alleviating any irritation that’s often associated with retinol-based products.

This serum comes at around $58, which is quite above FAB’s usual pricing. But you’re getting an advanced, one-of-a-kind formula that you won’t find elsewhere. The packaging is air-tight with a twist-lock pump.


The serum-cream is slightly yellow. Feels like a light hydrating formula. I can imagine that someone with very oily skin could do with only using this serum at night as a moisturizer in the beginning.
As you start to come up to frequent use, the retinol does impact your sebum production and you might want to focus more on hydration in either light or heavy form.


A little goes a long way, its texture is very spreadable. All I need is two full pumps, which is the size of a small pea, for my whole face and neck. Depending on the size of your face, you might need an extra dab for the neck.

I’ve been experimenting with the frequency of use. I started off slow, applying it once to twice a week. Then three nights per week. Eventually every other night to every night.
However, when I got up to using it every night, after two to three weeks, my skin seemed to start showing signs of surface dehydration. My skin didn’t peel, but it would look tight and dull. Pretty much the opposite of what Retinol is supposed to do.
So I went down to about every other night (three to four times a week), and that has been my sweet-spot. It also works well with my acid treatments, that I use in between Retinol-nights.

In hindsight, estheticians like Renée Rouleau don’t recommend using retinol more than 5 times a week for any skin type. And I would pretty much agree on that standpoint. I’ve experienced similar tight-feeling skin with the said-to-be-more-gentle Medik8 r-Retinoate with daily application. And especially if you like to use acids in your routine – that even enhances the effectiveness of retinol – it’s best to clock the usage to either 3-4 days straight per week or every other day use.

first aid beauty 0.25% retinol serum review


Overall I find it to be a great retinol serum for beginners as well as those with sensitive skin. Its hydrating formula minimizes the risk for dryness. It reminds me much of the Medik8 r-Retinoate that retails for £135 and this is only a quarter of the price!
But I find that you still need to be cautious, especially when using chemical exfoliants. But that’s more of a general rule for any type of retinoid out there!

Considering it’s a low strength retinol, my age, and that I’ve only used it for no more than 6 months, it might be too early to comment on its anti-wrinkle effect. In short, I haven’t seen any reduction in fine lines on my forehead that has recently started to appear.
However, the instant results are that I do find my skin to look more plump, younger and blemish-calm. I’ve definitely contemplated repurchasing this as I haven’t experienced any major discomfort! And it allows me to continue the use of gentle acids on a more regular basis than only once per week.

However, if you do have acne, you might want to look into something stronger. And/or stronger with a slow-release formula, like encapsulated retinol.
While the FAB 0.25% Retinol serum does have some blemish-calming effect on low to moderate acne, it’s not as nearly skin-changing as some other retinol serums that I’ve tried. Like, namely, Peter Thomas Roth 1.5% PM Fusionsadly not cruelty-free though!
It figures as this is only 0.25%. But I imagine that for anyone else, who’s got sensitive skin, in their mid 20’s and just started using retinol, this is a great option that will give promising effect! I can’t recommend it enough!

If acne wasn’t my main concern for the use of retinol, then I would honestly, hands down, continue using this one until I reach my 30’s. But right now I’m dealing with more stubborn acne that I see responds better to higher strength encapsulated retinol. I’m thinking about using this during winter when my skin behaves better and a stronger one in the summer. Either way, it finds its place on my list of products I would repurchase!

Have you tried the First Aid Beauty Retinol?
What retinol serum are you using at the moment?