December 5, 2023

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Think Shopping & Women

Review: Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 Caroline Hirons

7 min read
skin rocks retinoid 2 serum

Few skincare afficionados would be unaware of THE skincare guru, Caroline Hirons. I have been following her and her blog for many years, and her advise and product recommendations have often been spot on, and practical.

I do have a little quibble with her early takes on sunscreen, but she has since taken a more conventional approach to recommend that we wear sunscreen daily, not just in Summer.

So, when Caroline Hirons launched a product under her Skin Rocks brand, I sat up and took notice. Any product she releases should be something to be reckoned with.

And it is.

The first product in the Skin Rocks range is their Retinoid, which comes in 2 variations – Retinoid 1 and Retinoid 2. On launch day, I logged in and snagged a bottle of my very own. I just HAD to see if it is, or will be, one of the best retinoid serums in the market! 😀

Spoiler: It is one of the better ones I’ve tried thus far.

Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 : By Caroline Hirons

I am no stranger to using retinoids and retinols in my skincare routine, so I picked the Skin Rocks Retinoid 2. If you are new to using products like this (Vitamin A) then go with Retinoid 1, which will ease you into the ingredient.

The Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 is a high potency Vitamin A serum that boosts skin clarity and promotes a smooth, even and radiant skin tone. It uses 0.5% hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR) and 0.05% retinal, and is recommended for those who are used to using Vitamin A in their routine, and who want to maintain an even toned, radiant complexion.

Why this is a retinoid is because it contains HPR, which is more effective than retinol. HPR is a more stable, less irritating ingredient which takes fewer conversions in your skin to become retinoic acid. Retinal is even more effective, as it takes even fewer conversions than HPR to become retinoic acid. Combining the 2 in this serum makes it a more potent Vitamin A formula.

Ingredients aside, how did I like it?

Well, you read my spoiler, so that’s the question answered 😛

Elegantly formulated product that sinks into skin comfortably

The formula itself is quite elegant. It is creamy yet lightweight, and is fragrance-free. I do detect a scent, but it coud just be the combination of the ingredients.

I like that the formula is slightly creamy. My drier, more mature skin (for which Retinoid 2 is formulated) prefers a product formula that is creamier.

It applies easily on skin, and sinks into skin comfortably without any heavy, greasy feel. Few retinols or retinoid serums will feel heavy on skin, but it is notable that it is comfortable.

While the colour is said to be ‘creamy’, I noticed that mine is more like buttercream yellow – a pale yellow.

Easy to know how much product to use

To address questions of “How much product should I be using?” Skin Rocks puts it on the cap. There is a circle on the cap that indicates just how much of the serum you should use each time.

I tested it the first 2 times and noticed that it corresponds to 2 pumps. Just pump it twice, and that’s how much serum you need.

Incidentally, that’s more than what you’d find yourself using in most other serums, which often just say “1 pump”. But if 2 pumps is recommended, then 2 pumps is what I’d use. It’s enough to cover my whole face, which I apply using the 13-dot method. Yes, I’m still using that! 😀

RELATED READING: What’s the 13-dot technique of applying skincare? Let me show you! READ MORE

Skin feels transformed with regular use

I’ve been using mine since its launch in November 2022, and I have to say that it had impressed me within a few uses. By now, I’ve tried enough products to know which ones will work with my skin, which will work over a longer term, and which are duds. This one felt effective almost immediately.

I use this every other day, or 3 times a week, and I have to say that when I am diligent with it, my skin shows it. It feels smoother, my breakouts go away, and my skin looks brighter and clearer. I noticed this within 2 weeks of using this serum in my routine, which surprised me. I wasn’t quite prepared to see results so quickly.

I like that unlike the Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol which is also very transformative, Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 does not irritate the skin nor dry it out. It isn’t hydrating, but it certainly isn’t drying, and it does not make my skin feel sensitive.

I am careful to apply a more soothing and moisturising cream over the serum, and to wear a high performance sunscreen the following day.

When I stop using the serum (which I have periodically, as sometimes, when I skip days, I tend to forget or get lazy, and skip for weeks on end) I can tell because my skin doesn’t look as bright. When I pick it up again, I see it regain its glow and clarity in a few weeks.

While retinol/retinoids can help even out skin tone and even help lighten hyperpigmentation, it hasn’t done that for me. That is primarily because I am exposed to the sun daily, and even with a very high performance mineral sunscreen, I still battle my dark spots. I only say this because I know people will have comments about how my skin looks if seen in real life, and all I can say is that I’m happy with its texture even if I’m not happy about the spots, and I am doing the best I can with it 😛

A little too pricey to justify replenishing

I am almost finished with my bottle of the Retinoid 2 serum, and I have to say that I am a little bummed, because the cost of replenishing is just so high. I must lay the blame on the fact that the Malaysian Ringgit isn’t performing that well next to the USD, so what would cost someone $90, will cost me over RM400 – which is about a third of our monthly minimum wage. That’s a little too rich for my blood.

I do note that when I first purchased it in Nov 2022, it cost US$74 for 30ml. With shipping of US$15 by DHL Express (I got it within a week!) it came up to US$89.

When I just checked the price, it’s now listed as US$90 for the bottle, and with shipping of US$15, that makes it US$105 – ouch!

I did notice that Skin Rocks sells refills, which are marginally cheaper at US$80, but still a pinch. I will therefore have to have a think if I’m willing to splurge on this again in time to come. I might, because it’s so good, but it will necessitate me thinking about it twice, or maybe three times before I hit the Buy Now button.


The Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 serum is a Vitamin A serum that targets skin texture, fine lines and skin clarity. It is formulated for those who are already using a similar product in their skincare routine. For those new to retinoids, you should pick Retinoid 1. I liked how the packaging tells you just how much product to use for it to be effective (2 pumps), and how creamy yet lightweight the product is on skin. It smooths easily over the skin, and sinks right in without any residue. In just 2 weeks, using it every other day, I did notice smoother, clearer skin and if I have any little spots, it helps to clear it off quickly. It is non-irritating and not drying, which is wonderful in a Vitamin A serum. My skin does look and feel better when I’m using it. However, it is a pinch on the wallet to keep this as a mainstay in my skincare routine, because it is pretty pricey, especially after the currency exchange. So I’m on the fence if I’ll repurchase.

Elegant packaging
Nice creamy formula that is lightweight and sinks into skin easily
Effective at making skin look clearer, feel smoother and to reduce fine lines
Not irritating nor drying


WHO WILL LIKE THIS: Anyone who wants an effective retinoid/Vitamin A serum that does help reduce fine lines and smoothen skin without being irritating or drying

PRICE: US$90 | £62 for 30ml

WHERE TO BUY: Skin Rocks website (ships internationally), SpaceNK (does not ship this product to Malaysia)

Here’s the ingredients list of the Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 for those interested

Aqua (Water, Eau), Dimethyl Isosorbide, Isononyl Isononanoate, Diisopropyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Glycerin, Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Bakuchiol, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Benzyl Alcohol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinal, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Glyceryl Stearate, Polysilicone-11, Bidens Pilosa Extract, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Withania Somnifera Root Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hordeum Vulgare Extract (Extrait d’orge), Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Seed Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Polyisobutene, Bisabolol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Phytosterols, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sorbitan Isostearate, Phospholipids, Phenethyl Alcohol.

Have you tried this Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 serum?

I’m still debating if I want to purchase the refill. Something tells me I might just cave, but we’ll see 😛

Paris B

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