Glossier’s Universal Pro Retinol Is the Gentlest Retinol I’ve Ever Used


Want to feel old? Glossier Universal Pro Retinol, the first-ever Glossier retinol, is finally here. That’s right, the millennial brand known for breezy, effortless makeup and preternaturally glowing skin is making the leap over to heavy-duty actives—and to be honest, I was a little skeptical when I heard the news. 

It’s not that I don’t love Glossier—many of the brand’s products have priority spots on my vanity—but as someone with serious adult acne, a brand known for barely there makeup isn’t usually my first choice for skin care (unless it’s the Milky Jelly cleanser; that shit absolutely slaps). 

That being said, Glossier has a hold on me, and even if I know in my heart that one of its products just isn’t right for me, I get sucked in by the pretty pink packaging and glowing models, and have to give it a try. That’s why I’m flat-out delighted to report that this time, I was wrong—and the new Glossier Retinol is a slam dunk. 

As the name suggests, Glossier wanted to create a retinol that would work for pretty much anyone, no matter their skin type or current experience level with retinol. The formula uses 0.5% retinyl sunflowerate, which is a mixture of pure retinol with sunflower-seed-derived fatty acids. This gives you the traditional benefits of a retinol—smoothing lines, fading dark spots, cutting down on blemishes, improving overall skin tone and texture—but is a newer innovation that is less irritating than what you may be used to. The formula also includes stevia extract, which adds an extra punch of skin-smoothing benefits, as well as plant-based humectants like glycerine and mondo grass root to lock in moisture and, most important, keep that notorious “retinol burn” at bay. 

The first thing that struck me about the Glossier Universal Pro Retinol was the texture. It’s almost a thicker balm, and feels as hydrating as a heavy-duty moisturizer on the skin—that’s those humectants at work. I went ahead and added a moisturizer on top, but if your skin tends to be extremely oily, you could probably get away with skipping one. 

I have a rocky history with retinol. I’ve tried my fair share of prescription and over-the-counter formulas, and almost every time I’m left with a red, flaky mess. However, I’ve been using Glossier Universal Pro Retinol twice a week—the brand recommends starting once a week and building up to nightly use if you can tolerate it—and I haven’t had a single flake, patch of redness, or random flare-up. 

In fact, my skin has looked great. With three weeks under my belt, I haven’t been using it nearly long enough to see serious results when it comes to acne and pigmentation, which usually kicks in anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks of use. However, it did flatten a red, inflamed pimple overnight. And although I’m currently dealing with my usual crop of zits, my skin generally looks healthier since I started incorporating the retinol into my routine; it’s overall glowing, dewy, and plump. It’s still my skin, just a lot better.

In fact, I might go as far as to say that it’s Glossier-model skin in a bottle, and for just $35, it can be yours too.

Glossier Universal Pro-Retinol

Bella Cacciatore is the beauty writer at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.


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