It’s said that you can be more relaxed in your younger years, but the minute you hit 30 you need to have a solid skincare routine, since collagen starts to deplete from this age. Or as us Mums and Dads know – every bit of goodness seems to fade away in the early years of having a kid!

But not even my twice a day face cream habit can restore the fine lines and dark circles emerging on my face. Or can they?

I recently heard two words that were a complete game changer. Retinol and Peptides.

There’s been a lot of talk about them again recently and inspired by the recommendation from a Dr at the British Skin Foundation (featured here), I decided to put it to the test.

Retinol – what’s the deal?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A, which has been found to minimise the appearance of wrinkles and may also help reduce some of the side effects of sun damage.

Among its benefits it can enhance production of collagen as well as stop it from being broken down – a bonus if you want firmer skin and less visible lines. It also speeds up skin cell regeneration for smoother skin. It can take a while to see a difference (at least a month).

Peptides – tell me more

Oh, how we laughed at that woman on the TV advert who talked about ‘pentapeptides’ and how wrong we were. Peptides are short chains of amino acids making up proteins. There are hundreds of different types with different effects, known to provide significant anti-aging benefits.

Putting them to the test

I got my hands on two of the best products featuring these ingredients, including skincare specialists Paula’s Choice, and one of my favourite British brands and pioneers of clean skincare – Ren.

Paula’s Choice ‘1% Retinol Treatment’

The first thing you notice about this product is that it boasts 1% retinol, this is important if you want to see results. As well as retinol, it includes peptides, making it a powerhouse of a skincare product.

It recommends that you build up resilience, starting 2 or 3 times a week. I dabbed a small pea size amount around my worst areas – emerging wrinkles above my eyebrows and the dreaded crow’s feet. I could instantly feel its strength. It’s as if your skin is tightening up in real time, but be careful to avoid contact with eyes. This was the workout my face needed, like the personal trainer of the beauty world!

A rich penetrating cream, I found took a good few minutes to soak in, which is why I prefer applying at night time. Although my skin responded positively to it, I can see this is a powerful product, so use gradually if your skin is sensitive.

It does take a few weeks of consistent use to see results. After about a month my wrinkles, although still there, looked less dramatic. The product claims to “Improve skin’s firmness and elasticity”, well I can say my face did feel more ‘plump’ in a good way – it certainly felt like I had gone back in time a few years, so for me it has been a hit!

It’s list of ingredients are huge, but some that are worth noting are: Dimethicone (silicone slip agent), Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), liquorice and oat extract.

This is not a cheap purchase, nor a whimsical one. It is a considered product with a price tag reflecting its value. See this as an investment piece, and treat your skin to the luxury it deserves.

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Treatment, 30ml from £53 at


Ren, Bio Retinoid – Anti-Ageing Cream

Some friends I’ve spoken to say that retinol has irritated their skin, since it packs a punch, I’m not surprised. But it’s probably a case of getting your face use to it. If you are that gal, then rest assured, Ren promises to provide results without irritation, something I can vouch for. Despite its strength, it felt very natural without any negative side effects experienced.

Ren recommend using twice daily – with it being quite a thick cream, I preferred to use it at night time for optimal results.

First up, I absolutely love its light peachy fragrance – quite unusual to find in beauty products and ever so discreet, it’s just a hint of loveliness.

It’s almost similar in texture to sun cream, but without any grease. This is testament to the goodness it’s packed with, it feels like a serious cream from the get-go. This product has been formulated to ‘lift and restructure skin’ with 100% natural plant and mineral derived actives.

On that note, you only need the tiniest dab, a little goes a long way, especially as it glosses on with no effort. Deeply nourishing, it doesn’t take long to soak in and leaves your skin with a lovely luminous glow. Be careful not to put too much on though, because it can do the opposite if you overload your skin.

After a few weeks of daily use my skin looked more hydrated and silky smooth, results are subtle but I could notice the difference, and I will certainly keep on using it. For me, this is a product that makes me skin look great – luminous and loved!

Ren, Bio Retinoid – Anti-Ageing Cream, 50ml, from £45 at SpaceNK


For an all-rounder that includes both retinol and peptides, you can’t go wrong with Paula’s Choice. This powerhouse of a product delivers, but its strength can take a while to get used to – I would recommend this for slightly older users. Ren’s Bio-Retinoid meanwhile is a great go-to cream for day-to-day use, and while it markets itself as twice daily, I found that once at night time was enough. It left my skin looking luminous and refreshed and at £45 is a great buy and anti-aging cream to start with from your 30s upward.









Milk Drunk Diary is an editorial blogzine based in the UK. We buy, borrow and receive products to test and review. Our opinions are always honest and our own.

If you liked this feature, check out our favourite products for tired Mombies here >>>