If you’ve ever tried to use a retinol skincare product but given up because of dryness, irritation, rosacea or discomfort, hydroxypinacolone retinoate is irresistibly calling you back. HPR (sometimes referred to as “granactive retinoid”) is a newer retinoid that’s much better tolerated by dry, sensitive skins, but packs a proper punch at acne, rough texture, pigmentation, lines and other visible signs of skin ageing.
We know retinoids work better than anything else on ageing skin, but unlike previous “gentler” (and in my view, inferior) retinoids such as retinyl palmitate, HPR actually delivers the sort of results that those tolerant of punchier retinoid types get to enjoy. And while I maintain that some people can’t comfortably use any retinoids and that it’s perfectly possible to have great skin without them, I believe HPR to be so well tolerated and effective that its mass adoption will see their numbers fall.
Elizabeth Arden’s new HPR gel-cream is pricey but pure pleasure to use – its best product launch in a decade
Brands are evidently in agreement that HPR is the future, since more and more products containing it are launching all the time. And I’m excited. In Retinol + HPR Ceramide Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream, £75, Elizabeth Arden have what I believe is its best product launch in a decade. This beautifully textured gel-cream moisturiser is applied daily, even on sensitive areas (I can apply it directly to my neck, where I can’t with traditional retinoids), and gently but surely gets to work, while cushioning skin in Arden’s signature ceramides. The cream is refreshing, entirely devoid of grease and a pure pleasure to use. Daily SPF remains essential.
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Skin Rocks Retinoid 1, £65, is an HPR designed specifically for those who’ve either had negative experiences with retinoids or been too nervous to even try one. I’d be surprised if any of them reacted to this easy, elegant, skin-kind serum (again, my neck and undereyes like it just fine). It’s refillable, too. Both products contain the same percentage of HPR, so it’s a question of picking between cream or serum. They’re also pricey.
There are several inexpensive HPR serums out there, but most of them are, infuriatingly, packed in clear glass bottles, which can be the kiss of death for the light-sensitive ingredient. Two affordable exceptions are e.l.f’s Youth Boosting Advanced Night Retinoid Serum, £22, and Sephora’s Minimalist Granactive 02%, at just £7.99. Both use HPR and are a budget-friendly way for the retinoid-nervous to see how they fare before splurging. My prediction: much, much better.