Review – Glossier Universal Pro-Retinol (+ Info on Retinyl Sunflowerseedate – Does it work?)

Where to Purchase: Available at

Price: £30

Volume: 35ml

Made in: The USA

What is it?: A Nightly Retinoid Cream containing a Retinol derivative (Retinyl Sunflowerseedate)

What does it do?: It’s meant to improve the appearance of fine lines, blemishes, pores, dark spots and an uneven skin texture while moisturising the skin.

Supposedly Good for: All skin Types

What I think: Normal and Dry Skins > Oily or Combo Skins, as this is thick and very emollient (thanks Shea Butter!).


Vegan?: Yes

Cruelty Free?: Yes

Packaging: The packaging is nice – It’s a Plastic Tube with a Pump and a Lid (Cap). The tube itself has a papery feel to it that makes it easy (and feel nice) to hold.

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Directions: To be used in the PM. Apply 1 pump over cleansed skin and then wait for 15 seconds before the product fully absorbs, and then use a moisturiser after. You can use this product 1-2x a week and then increase slowly (up to every night use). Always apply SPF in the following morning. Not to be used on the same night as exfoliating acids.

How I use it: I used this in the PM, and due to how thick it is, I used it as the last step of my skincare. I have Oily-Combo Skin (however it is the winter time now, so it’s a little dryer – but there is no way I could apply this product and then a moisturiser on top, so I used this as a moisturiser and still found it a bit thick. 1 Pump was not enough to cover my face, so I had to use about 2-3 pumps for the face and neck.

What is the Retinoid used?: The Retinoid used is Retinyl Sunflowerate/Retinyl Sunflowerseedate (0.5%). They also call it pro-retinol (Which is Retinyl Palmitate aka Retinol + Palmitic Acid). So, instead of using Palmitic Acid, Sunflower Seed Acid was used, but this should have a similar / same effect. Glossier state that this ingredient should provide the same benefits as Retinol but without the same dryness and peeling. I agree, it doesn’t provide the same irritation but I wouldn’t agree that it provides the exact same effects (slightly weaker, therefore takes slightly longer to see the same results).

What does it do?: Helps address Fine Lines + Wrinkles

NOTE: If you would like to know more about Retinol / Retinoids, and in particular; Retinyl Palmitate, then please watch my video on the Pixi Retinol Collection I both swatched + reviewed:

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NOTE: GEM Eastman Manufactured this Ingredient, AND I checked on PUBMED and Google Scholar to see if any papers had been published using this ingredient (Retinyl Sunflowerate/Retinyl Sunflowerseedate) – There are none (yet). But I’m guessing it’s because this is basically Retinyl Palmitate, and there are papers on that.

  • Tretinoin is the peak Retinoid (fewest conversions to trans-retinoic acid which is used in the skin). Retinyl Palmitate requires 3 conversions to become usable in the skin, and it’s quite weak in terms of being good at helping with fine lines + wrinkles compared to Retinol or Tretinoin. However I will say, those who are scared or nervous about using Retinoids and are first-time users, an ingredient like this could simply help get one’s foot through the door!

Is it as good as Regular Retinol?: Not as effective (and results aren’t seen as quick) It’s more recommended to use Retinol > Retinyl Palmitate. There’s a controversy regarding Retinyl Palmitate however there has been push-back against these claims HERE.

Does this sting / Cause Irritiation Like Regular Retinol?: No. This does not

Dupe?: The only other product that contains this exact Retinoid is the Boscia 0.6% Pro-Retinol Repair + Renew Waterless Advanced Treatment (That also contains Bakuchiol which helps with Sebum Production and is possibly anti-ageing).

Other Notable Key Ingredients: Shea Butter (Emollient + provides that creamy texture). Betaine (Moisturiser + Humectant), Aloe Leaf Juice (Moisturiser + Humectant). Hyaluronic Acid (Humectant).

I definitely wont deny that this is a very moisturising product! So if anything, it’s a heavy cream that Dry Skins may adore.

Full Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Propanediol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, C13-15 Alkane, Cetyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cetearyl Olivate, Coconut Alkanes, Sorbitan Olivate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Betaine, Retinyl Sunflowerseedate, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Ophiopogon Japonicus Root Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycol Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate.

NOTE: The Incidecoder have a full ingredient breakdown HERE


Texture: This is THICK. Probably the thickest Retinol product I’ve tried (Much thinner Retinoid products are The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2% or The Inkey List’s Retinol). I need a few pumps to get this onto the face as due to the thickness, this is quite hard to spread nicely along the skin and neck. Once it’s been spread, very similar to the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask – this forms a sort of white-looking layer on top of the skin and I have to continue to rub in/pat and dab, and then leave the product to fully sink in before the white layer finally disappears.

However, this hasn’t disappeared into the skin, but forms an occlusive layer on top of the skin which makes my skin feel like it can’t breathe. No, this doesn’t feel oily or greasy, and the finish doesn’t make me look shiny, but I can feel what a heavy cream is sitting on my face (so that’s quite unpleasant). It seems to layer fine and doesn’t seem to be sticky, but would of course transfer a bit if I pressed a hand against my face.


Hopefully you can see how buttery and creamy this product is. This is absolutely moisturising, but it it pleasant to wear? Not for my Oily-Combo Skin.

Summer or Winter?: Winter (For My Oily-Combo Skin).

Layerable?: Yes (Doesn’t ball up).

Video Swatch:


Fragrance?: No added Fragrance / Essential Oils, but interestingly, this does have almost a sweet scent to it!

Good Under Makeup?: It’s fine under makeup but I wouldn’t recommend it (PM use only).

How long have I been using this?: Couldn’t stand it for just over a week of use (the texture was too much for me).

The Effect?: Definitely Moisturised skin. But didn’t use it long enough for the Retinoid effects.

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What I like:

  • No Fragrance and/or EO
  • Moisturising
  • Cruelty Free
  • I like the packaging (even feels nice in the hand).
  • Didn’t sting or irritate
  • Unscented but smells nice!

What I don’t like:

  • THICK – uncomfortably thick on my Oily-Combo Skin (Felt like the Skin couldn’t breathe, even during cooler weather)
  • Little to no research on Retinyl Sunflowerseedate (but ofc there is research on Retinyl Palmitate which this basically is).

Overall Rating + Conclusion: 2/5 – Definitely moisturising, but the texture of this doesn’t suit my skin type at all (I think Dry skins would very much enjoy), and I get why they wanted to use a more gentler Retinoid, but why use one that doesn’t seem to have enough papers on it (specifically Retinyl Sunflowerate), than sticking to a Retinol but at a lower %. I think there are cheaper, thinner textured Retinoids on the skin that sit better.

I can’t really discuss the effects of this product on my fine lines as I had to stop using it a little over a week (to uncomfortable to wear), however, there doesn’t seem to be enough substantiated research on this particular type of retinoid to make me really recommend it with flying colours – but of course, as with all new Retinoids and Derivatives of Skincare Superstars; the advice is, if you want to experiment and you want to try out these retinoids and see how they work on yourself, then go ahead! 🙂

Would I repurchase?: No, mainly because I find it too thick and craamy.

Dupe: The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid (HERE) for first-time retinoid users. And I also like The Inkey List’s Retinol. However, if you want something a bit more potent, the La Roche Posay Retinol cream is good!

My Skin Type: I am acne prone and have slightly dehydrated combo skin. My skin is usually tight where the cheeks and eye area is and the outer parts of my face. My T zone is oily. My skin isn’t a fan of thick/heavy formulas so I opt for lightweight formulas to prevent it from clogging up. My skin doesn’t like essential oils either and I try to avoid fragrance when I can.

Disclaimer: I am a skincare enthusiast and not a skin expert. I am not qualified to give out dermatological advice. This type of advice should only be given by a medical practitioner. Upon trying / using any of the reviewed products on the blog, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings and please seek medical advice if needed.

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