The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum Ingredients Explained

Last updated on July 18, 2023.

Overview

What it is

Serum with 31 ingredients that contains hyaluronic acid, peptides, retinoid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E

Cool Features

It is vegan, cruelty-free, and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, anti aging, dry skin, brightening skin, oily skin, reducing pores, scar healing, dark spots and better texture

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, fragrances, parabens or sulfates

Fun facts

The INKEY List is from United Kingdom. This product is used in 297 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

Retinoid (2)
Vitamin C
Vitamin E (2)
Hyaluronic Acid
Peptides (2)

Benefits

Hydrating (3)
Good For Oily Skin (2)
Redness Reducing
Skin Texture (4)
Reduces Large Pores (2)
Anti-Aging (5)
Dark Spots (3)
Scar Healing (4)
Acne Fighting (2)
Brightening (5)

Concerns

Drying (2)
Irritating (4)
Eczema

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
3
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
1 / 0
4
Solvent
5
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
6
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
1 / 0
Silicon Icon
7
Emulsion Stabilising
8
Emollient, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
9
Skin Conditioning
10
Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
11
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
1 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin Icon
12
Solvent
13
Skin Conditioning
14
Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming
1 / 0
15
Antioxidant
Vitamin C IconAntioxidant IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots Icon
16
Antioxidant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
0-3 / 0-3
Vitamin E IconAntioxidant IconHelps hydrate Dry Skin IconMay cause irritation IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin Icon
17
Emulsifying
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
18
Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Vitamin E IconAntioxidant IconHelps brighten skin Icon
19
Skin Conditioning
20
Buffering
21
22
Skin Conditioning
Retinoid IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne Icon
23
Skin Conditioning
Retinoid IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconMay worsen Eczema IconHelps brighten skin Icon
24
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
25
Antimicrobial
26
Emulsifying
Oil IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
27
Humectant, Moisturising, Skin Conditioning
Hyaluronic Acid IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin Icon
28
Emulsifying
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
29
Skin Conditioning
Peptide IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
30
Skin Conditioning
Peptide IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
31
Preservative
Preservative Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 31 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
3
What it does: Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Butylene Glycol (or BG) is used within cosmetic products for a few different reasons:

  • It is a solvent, meaning that it helps to dissolve other ingredients. This also enhances the absorption of the product into one's skin.
  • It is a humectant, which means that it helps attract moisture into the skin.
  • It helps improve product application.

Overall, Butylene Glycol is a safe and well-rounded ingredient. It is unlikely to irritate skin, and works well with pretty much all other ingredients.

4
What it does: Solvent
Community Rating: Liked

Propanediol helps absorb ingredients into your skin, boosting their benefits. It can act as an emollient, making your skin softer. Propanediol can help products last longer by boosting the properties of preservatives within the formulation.

Propanediol is not likely to cause sensitivity and considered safe to use.

It is derived from corn or petroleum with a clear color and no scent.

Learn more about Propanediol
5
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Dicaprylyl Carbonate comes from carbonic acid and caprylyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol. It is an emollient and gives skin a velvet feel. The sources of Dicaprylyl Carbonate may be synthetic or from animals.

As an emollient, Dicaprylyl Carbonate creates a film on the skin. This film traps moisture in, keeping your skin soft and hydrated.

6
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Dimethicone is a silicone used for making products smooth and silky. It also has the added benefit of sealing in hydration. The amount of dimethicone found in beauty products is considered safe and non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores.

Dimethicone has been found increase absorption in skin, boosting the benefits of other ingredients. While there is concern for the safety of dimethicone, the levels used in skincare are safe for use.

7
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising
Community Rating: Mixed

This is a synthetic polymer. It helps improve the texture of products by adding thickness and gel-like feel.

It is also an emulsifer, meaning it prevents ingredients such as oil and water from separating. It also helps evenly disperse other ingredients.

8
What it does: Emollient, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Caprylyl Glycol is a humectant and emollient, meaning it attracts and preserves moisture.

It is a common ingredient in many products, especially those designed to hydrate skin. The primary benefits are retaining moisture, skin softening, and promoting a healthy skin barrier.

Though Caprylyl Glycol is an alcohol derived from fatty acids, it is not the kind that can dry out skin.

This ingredient is also used as a preservative to extend the life of products. It has slight antimicrobial properties.

Learn more about Caprylyl Glycol
9
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Phospholipids are naturally found in our skin as they are the main component of cell membranes. Phospholipids have humectant, emollient, antioxidant properties.

The phospholipids in our skin can be naturally depleted. Replenishing the phospholipids in our skin can help hydrate your skin. Due to their hygroscopic nature, they act as humectants and emollients. Humectants draw moisture from the air to your skin, while emollients help trap moisture in. This ingredient is non-occlusive.

Studies show phospholipids display antioxidant activity and may help with reducing the signs of aging.

Phospholipids are complex lipids that contain glycerin, two fatty acids, and a phosphate group. Some foods that contain phospholipids include soybeans and milk. The phospholipids found in soy come from Lecithin. This ingredient can also be synthetically created.

Some types of phospholipids:

Learn more about Phospholipids
10
What it does: Emollient, Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

Caprylic/capric glycerides are a mixture of fats from caprylic and capric acids.

As an emollient, Caprylic/Capric Glycerides helps soften and moisturize the skin. Emollients create a moisture-trapping film on the skin.

Emulsifiers prevent ingredients from separating.

Learn more about Caprylic/Capric Glycerides
11
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Squalane is an emollient that helps the skin hold onto moisture. It's an oily liquid that occurs naturally in certain types of fish and plant oils.

Because squalane boosts hydration in the skin, it also comes with plenty of benefits: it is an antioxidant and can help fight free radicals and skin damage. Squalane is also found to have a detoxifying effect when applied.

Squalane comes from squalene, which occurs naturally within the sebum of our skin. It is one of the oils our skin produces to keep itself hydrated. Squalane is the hydrogenated version of squalene and has a longer shelf life.

Research shows that squalane is non-irritating (even at 100% concentration).

In general, it's a fantastic ingredient. It does a great job at hydrating the skin, and it's suitable for those with sensitive skin.

The source of squalane may impact malassezia / fungal acne. This is because olive oil derived squalane can contain impurities such as fatty acids and plant waxes. Sugarcane derived squalane is recommended for anyone with malassezia concerns.

Is squalane vegan?
This depends on the source. Squalane can be derived from both plants and animals. Most squalane used in skincare comes from plants.

Please note: the source of squalane is only known if disclosed by the brand. We recommend reaching out to the brand if you have any questions about their squalane.

Read more about squalene with an "e".

Learn more about Squalane
12
What it does: Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Dimethyl Isosorbide is a solvent and helps deliver actives into your skin. It is created from sorbitol.

As a solvent, dimethyl isosorbide helps dissolve other ingredients. This helps ensure even distribution of an ingredient. It may also be used to decrease the thickness of a product.

Studies show dimethyl isosorbide is able to penetrate skin to deliver other ingredients into the skin, making them more effective.

Learn more about Dimethyl Isosorbide
13
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

Glycine Soja Extract comes from the soybean. Glycine Soja is native to eastern Asia.

Soybeans are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants may improve the signs of aging.

Studies show soy may help fade hyperpigmentation from UVB. It does so by disrupting the melanin process from UVB induced skin inflammation.

Soybeans are rich in proteins and are part of the legume family. Foods made with soybeans include tofu, soymilk, edamame, miso, and soy sauce.

Learn more about Glycine Soja Extract
14
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming
Community Rating: Disliked

Carbomer is a polymer of acrylic acid. Its main role is to create gel consistency within products.

Carbomer is commonly found in many types of cosmetics products. It is found to be safe in concentrations up to 15%. However, a high amount of carbomer can cause pilling or balling up of products. Most products contain 1% of less of carbomer.

15
What it does: Antioxidant
Community Rating: Liked

Sodium Ascorbate is a form of Vitamin C. It is derived from the sodium salt of ascorbic acid.

As a Vitamin C, it is an antioxidant. It can help to reduce redness, improve skin texture, reduce the effects of aging, and reduce the visibility of dark spots.

16
What it does: Antioxidant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Tocopherol (also known as Vitamin E) is a common antioxidant used to help protect the skin from free-radicals and strengthen the skin barrier. It's also fat soluble - this means our skin is great at absorbing it.

Vitamin E also helps keep your natural skin lipids healthy. Your lipid skin barrier naturally consists of lipids, ceramides, and fatty acids. Vitamin E offers extra protection for your skin’s lipid barrier, keeping your skin healthy and nourished.

Another benefit is a bit of UV protection. Vitamin E helps reduce the damage caused by UVB rays. (It should not replace your sunscreen). Combining it with Vitamin C can decrease sunburned cells and hyperpigmentation after UV exposure.

You might have noticed Vitamin E + C often paired together. This is because it is great at stabilizing Vitamin C. Using the two together helps increase the effectiveness of both ingredients.

There are often claims that Vitamin E can reduce/prevent scarring, but these claims haven't been confirmed by scientific research.

Learn more about Tocopherol
17
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Polysorbate 60 is used to help stabilize products. It is a surfactant and emulsifier. These properties help keep ingredients together in a product. Surfactants help reduce surface tension between ingredients with different states, such as liquids and solids. Emulsifiers help prevent oils and waters from separating.

Polysorbate 60 is sorbitol-based and created from the ethoxylation of sorbitan. Ethoxylation is a chemical reaction used to add ethylene oxide. Sorbitan is a the dehydrated version of sorbitol, a sugar found in fruits.

In this case, the 60 comes from reacting 60 units of ethylene oxide with sorbitan.

Polysorbates are commonly used in medicine and foods.

Learn more about Polysorbate 60
18
What it does: Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Tocopheryl Acetate is AKA Vitamin E. It is an antioxidant and protects your skin from free radicals. Free radicals damage the skin by breaking down collagen.

One study found using Tocopheryl Acetate with Vitamin C decreased the number of sunburned cells.

Tocopheryl Acetate is commonly found in both skincare and dietary supplements.

Learn more about Tocopheryl Acetate
19
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

We don't have a description for Glycolipids.

20
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Mixed

Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It is used to adjust the pH of products; many ingredients require a specific pH to be effective.

In small amounts, sodium hydroxide is considered safe to use. However, large amounts may cause chemical burns due to its high alkaline.

Your skin has a natural pH and acid mantle. This acid mantle helps prevent harmful bacteria from breaking through. The acid mantle also helps keep your skin hydrated.

"Alkaline" refers to a high pH level. A low pH level would be considered acidic.

Learn more about Sodium Hydroxide
21
What it does:
Community Rating: Disliked

Disodium EDTA plays a role in making products more stable by aiding other preservatives.

It is a chelating agent, meaning it neutralizes metal ions that may be found in a product.

Disodium EDTA is a salt of edetic acid and is found to be safe in cosmetic ingredients.

Learn more about Disodium EDTA
22
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is a form of retinoid. It can be good for be good for oily skin. It can help to improve skin texture, reduce large pores, reduce the effects of aging, reduce the visibility of dark spots, heal scars, and fight acne. It can be bad for dry skin and cause irritation.

23
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A and proven to help with anti-aging.

It promotes collagen production, increases new cell turnoever, and protects your skin as an antioxidant.

Retinol boosts collagen production and increases cell turnover. This makes retinol effective in removing wrinkles, fading dark spots, and reducing the appearance of pores.

Retinol is less effective when exposed to sun. Be sure to look for appropriate packaging to keep your retinol potent.

Using retinol and retinoids will increase sun-sensitivity in the first few weeks of use. Though studies show retinoids increase your skin's natural SPF with continuous use, it is best to always wear sunscreen and sun-protection.

We recommend speaking with a medical professional about using this ingredient during pregnancy.

Retinol may cause irritation in some people, so be sure to patch test. Experts recommend 'ramping up' retinol use: start using this ingredient once a week and work up to using it daily.

Read about Tretinoin

Learn more about Retinol
24
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Glycine Soja Sterols is derived from the soybean plant. Sterols are an organic compound and technically an alcohol.

Unlike solvent alcohols, glycine soja sterols have emollient properties and help hydrate the skin.

This ingredient may not be Malassezia folliculitis, or fungal-acne safe.

Sterols can be found in plants, animals, and fungi.

Learn more about Glycine Soja Sterols
25
What it does: Antimicrobial
Community Rating: Liked

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate is a natural preservative. It comes from fermenting radish roots with a bacteria called leuconostoc. Leuconostoc comes from lactic acid. This bacteria is used to make the traditional Korean side-dish, kimchi. It is also used to make sourdough bread (both incredibly yummy foods).

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate has antimicrobial properties and helps prevent the growth of bacteria in a product.

It is believed the preservation property comes from salicylic acid and ammonium salt, neither of which are involved in the fermentation process.

Learn more about Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate
26
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil is derived from castor oil and polyethylene glycol (PEG). It is used as a emollient and emulsifier.

As an emulsifier, it helps prevent ingredients from separating. It also helps make the other ingredients more soluble; it is often used to solubilize fragrances. This increases spreadability and elongates shelf life in a product.

Emollients help soothe and soften the skin. They do this by creating a protective film on your skin. This barrier helps trap moisture and keeps your skin hydrated. Emollients may be effective at treating dry or itchy skin.

This ingredient may or may not be vegan, depending on the source.

Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil may not be fungal-acne safe. We recommend speaking with a professional if you have any questions or concerns.

Learn more about Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
27
What it does: Humectant, Moisturising, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in healthy skin. It is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to your skin.

Hyaluronic Acid has the capacity to bind to large amounts of water. This ingredient helps hydrate, soothe, and protect the skin.

Fun fact: It is already naturally found in our bodies, such as the fluids of our eyes and our joints.

Studies find this ingredient to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. This can help speed up wound-healing,

These are some other common types of Hyaluronic Acid:

Learn more about Hyaluronic Acid
28
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Polysorbate 20 is made by combining ethoxylation of sorbitan, ethylene oxide, and lauric acid. It is a mild cleansing agent, surfactant, and emulsifier.

As a surfactant, it helps collect dirt and oils for washing. Emulsifiers prevent oils and water from separating.

Polysorbate 20 also adds scent to a product. Since it is made using sorbitol, it has a sweet scent. Sorbitol can also be found in fruits such as apples and peaches.

The lauric acid used to create Polysorbate 20 is often derived from coconuts.

Polysorbate 20 may not be fungal acne safe.

Learn more about Polysorbate 20
29
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 is a peptide. Peptides are building blocks for protein.

This ingredient consists of four amino acids and palmitic acid. These amino acids are arginine, proline, glutamine, and glycine.

This ingredient has many benefits. These benefits include boosting collagen production, fighting inflammation, and reversing UV damage.

By preventing our bodies from producing interleukins, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 helps fight inflammation. An interleukin is a chemical that signals to the body to produce an inflammatory response. Interleukin production is accelerated by UV radiation.

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 tells our body to create more collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes connective tissue. Boosting collagen production leads to a healthier skin barrier. Having a healthy skin barrier means having firm and hydrated skin.

Read more about other common types of peptides here:

Learn more about Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7
30
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 is a 3-amino acid peptide. Peptides are building blocks for protein.

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 is a signal peptide. This means it tells our skin to create collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes connective tissue. Boosting collagen production leads to a healthier skin barrier. Having a healthy skin barrier means having firm and hydrated skin.

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 can help reduce wrinkles and make the skin look more youthful.

Read more about other common types of peptides here:

Learn more about Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1
31
What it does: Preservative
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent germ and microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

It's often used in formulations along with Caprylyl Glycol to preserve the shelf life of products.

Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 31 ingredients in this product ✨

55% are loved or liked
16% have mixed ratings
29% are disliked or very disliked
0% have no rating yet

When to use

We've created a guide with info on when you should use The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum. We've also included some recommended products to use it with, as well as some routine inspiration!

Read our guide on when to use Retinol Anti-Aging Serum ->
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The data we've presented on this page has been verified by a member of the SkinSort Team.

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Latest Reviews

View all 4
YousifShamoon's Avatar'
Apr 15, 2023

not doing anything?
i've been using this for 2-3 weeks and i see no difference. i know you're supposed to wait 6 weeks and see but i'm using this every single night and i'm not even purging in the slightest. i had a breakout before i...

not doing anything?
i've been using this for 2-3 weeks and i see no difference. i know you're supposed to wait 6 weeks and see but i'm using this every single night and i'm not even purging in the slightest. i had a breakout before i started using this and the breakout is still there which also shows that the product is doing nothing. i will finish the product to see if anything happens but my assumption is that it's too weak and my skin can take more, since my skin was used to benzyl peroxide twice a day since i was using effaclar duo+ for 3-4 months.

Read more reviews ->

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