The lowdown on encapsulated retinol

It’s the new anti-ageing ingredient you’ll need to try

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / June 15 2017

While we’re thrilled about retinol’s incredible ability to improve skin cell production - which in turn leads to smoother and younger looking skin we’re even more excited about this super-charged version that takes the form of encapsulated retinol, which boasts the same skin-improving qualities, but in a more effective way. Have we got your attention yet? Here, Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, tells us all the facts about the powerful retinol ingredient.

What is encapsulated retinol?

Encapsulated retinol works similarly to regular retinol, however it delivers its powers into skin a little differently. “Encapsulated retinol has been housed in a carrier system to protect its integrity and improve its ability to penetrate into the skin effectively,” says Hobson.

“Once it is on the skin, it divides and conquers by delivering the lipid-loving retinol to exactly the part of the skin where it provides the most benefit to the skin cells. At the same time, the crystalline particles create a protective shield on the skin surface to prevent dehydration.”


Dermalogica doesn't use a liposome delivery system; instead, we use a highly sophisticated liquid crystalline membrane to micro-encapsulate the retinol sphere, keeping it highly potent and active.
Emma Hobson
International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica
Education Manager

Why encapsulated retinol is effective

Think retinol is good for your skin? Encapsulated retinol is even better at reversing the signs of ageing. “Encapsulated retinol is more stable and efficacious, having the ease of travelling and targeting the skin cells where it is most beneficial,” explains Hobson.

Why we should use encapsulated retinol

“Retinoids work from the deeper layers of the skin upwards (unlike hydroxy acid exfoliants), so having a carrier system to deliver the retinol effectively to the lower levels of the skin means it can target the right area and achieve the results you're looking for,” says Hobson. “It's also volatile to air and UV so can easily lose its effectiveness if not protected by encapsulation.”

How many times a day you can use it

Because this ingredient is so incredibly powerful, it’s best to stick to using it once per day. “Even when retinol is encapsulated, it is still recommended only to be used at night,” reveals Hobson. “Retinol is damaged by sunlight, which is why it is recommended as a night-time use product. It can also make the skin sensitive to sunlight, which is also why it's applied at night and a sunscreen should be mandatory during the day.”


Night time is the best time to apply as it assists the skin during its repair and regeneration mode, which includes the making of new collagen.
Emma Hobson
International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica
Education Manager

Need-to-know tips when using encapsulated retinol

“It’s really important to wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30+ whilst using retinol products,” says Hobson. “Retinol can make the skin more sensitive to burning in sunlight if unprotected.

Avoid applying retinol products on the eyelids or the lips - the skin is way too fine and delicate in these areas. Caution must be used under the eye and around the brow bone.” 

What to avoid when using encapsulated retinol

It’s important to stick to these rules to avoid skin irritation: “Avoid using retinol (0.25 per cent and above) 48-72 hours pre and post facial waxing and using other home care and professional exfoliation and laser treatments,” advises Hobson. Also, “use with caution when you’re applying other active products like serums at the same time as your retinol product at night.” 

Here are our favourite encapsulated retinol products:

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair 1% contains a supercharged blend of encapsulated retinol, squalene from Brazilian sugar cane, antioxidant vitamin C and licorice extract to target fine lines and pigmentation.

Brighten your complexion with Eve Lom Time Retreat Radiance Boost Treatment - it’s loaded with chemical exfoliators and of course, encapsulated retinol, to improve the quality of skin. 

Besides encapsulated retinol, O Cosmedics Potent Retinol Serum also contains niacinamide and a peptide complex to fight the signs of ageing.

Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair 1%

Eve Lom Time Retreat Radiance Boost Treatment

O Cosmedics Potent Retinol Serum

Confused about skin care? Here’s an easy-to-understand ingredients guide to sort you out.

Have you tried any products with encapsulated retinol before? What are your thoughts on this ingredient? Let us know in the comments below. 

Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinky-nude nail polish and wispy false lashes, she has a healthy obsession with face masks and skin care ingredients. Her previous work can be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and SHOP Til You Drop.