Thursday, 17 November 2016

Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil

Describe the brand in three words.
Newish. Easy. Irish.

Who is it for?
Anyone in need of some good vitamin A action.
I.E. those of you worried about your pores (everyone). Dull, dehydrated, dry, oily, combo, ageing, smokers, drinkers - we literally all need vitamin A. If you're under 30 and healthy, it's not urgent. If you're over 40, it should be your priority.

What’s in it?
Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Rosa Canina (Fruit) Oil*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil**, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Oil*, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinyl Palmitate, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil***, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil**, Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu/Foraha) Seed Oil**, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil*, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Tocopherol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil**, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil**.
*Cold Pressed | **Cold Pressed and Organic| ***Steam distilled

What's not in it?
mineral oil, parabens, propylene glycol, fragrance

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
Not really

Suitable for pregnancy?
The brand will say 'No', but I used retinols happily through my later pregnancies and have advised clients accordingly. It's not going into your bloodstream, and it's not roaccutane, which is entirely different.

Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?
It's a mixture, but in general it's organic/natural.

Tested on animals in home country/EU/sold in territories that require testing?

How does it smell?
Fragrance free

How do you use it?
Apply in the evenings after cleansing, wait and let it get to work (make a brew), then add your moisturiser etc before bed if required.

Can it be taken around the eyes?
Orbital bone

Best for winter or summer?
All times.

How long did I test it for?
A few months.

How much is it? /Size
£63.00 for 30ml.

Works well with?
Anything. It can be used and then left alone, or you can add a moisturiser on top should you wish. SPF in the daytime, obvs.

What’s the website like?
Good. Easy to manoeuvre and they list all of the ingredients.

How’s the distribution? Available freely or limited?
Limited. Details here:

What’s good about it?
This is the best retinol I've used outside of a prescription. Besides the basics: fragrance-free, airtight and opaque packaging, the vitamin A comes in two forms: palmitate and hydroxypinacolone retinoate, the same form used in Luna. The retinyl palmitate resurfaces, it doesn't penetrate as much, it's good for pore appearance, but the hydroxypinacolone retinoate (furthermore known as HR) is the killer ingredient. Those of you that saw me on the recent Roadshow will remember that I had a large allergy-related acne spot - literally a boil - on the underside of my jaw. This got rid of it in two uses. I get the same swelling anytime I'm exposed to shellfish and it has old scarring on the site. This has nearly fixed the scarring. 
It's gentle and non-drying due to the oil base, it's fragrance free, so those of you with problems in the smells dept are good to go.
My skin is smoother, and more refined, with the texture and colouring more even. The cold-pressed base oils definitely disguise the punch of the HR, you don't wake up dry and patchy. I find myself reaching for it most nights. Although the action is strong, the formula is gentle enough for a first-timer. I've had no redness, just brightness. Really, really good.

What’s not so good about it?
I'd like a 50ml bottle please.

Would I purchase/repurchase?

Do you need it?

Similar products?
Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM  (close but retinol, not HR)

Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil is £63.00 and available from

*This post contains some affiliate links. However, as Pestle & Mortar are one of my business clients, I do not affiliate link to them. Nor do I tip them off that I am blogging about them.
If you are happy to click on them and support the blog, thank you very much. If you would rather not, just google the product. It's all good. See my full disclaimer here:
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and are provided for informational purposes only. The author makes no warranties about the suitability of any product or treatment referenced or reviewed here for any person other than herself and any reliance placed on these reviews or references by you is done so solely at your own risk. Nothing on this site shall be construed as providing dermatological, medical or other such advice and you are always advised to seek the advice of a suitable professional should you have any such concerns.


  1. sounds great! are there any acids in particular that you think would work well underneath? thanks!

  2. I won this in your competition, and very happy I am about it! Loving it so far! I put this under Pixi sleep mask last and my skin was softer than my toddler's- win! Thank you x

  3. How does it compare to Luna?

  4. Sounds lovely. Would you say this is better than SR Luna?

  5. Hi Caroline.

    Would you recommend this or the Zelens Vitamin A drops?

    I'm a first timer (age 23) and have oily dehydrated skin with spots and a ton of pigmentation from acne scars.

    I use p50, a BR moisturising serum, fresh sea berry oil and the BR dermopuridiante moisturiser.

    Hope you can recommend one for my skin type!

    1. Also I get new pimples every week so it's still problematic and I'm looking for something to prevent it.

    2. I actually really like the new Sunday Riley UFO oil that has salicylic acid. Ever since using Skinceuticals retinol, it's helped with pigmentation & acne! Worth a look at.

    3. Thanks! :)

      When I'm looking for stronger ones will def look into that. I'm a little scared of using that with the p50 and I don't want to change too many things in my routine cause my skin reacts to EVERY change. More often than not, badly.

      But when I'm going for stronger stuff will look into skinceuticals. Thanks for the reco! :)

    4. I started very gently with 0.3% for skinceuticals and it's brilliant

    5. Can you use P50 with it?
      Do you use any acid with it?

  6. Do you recommend a pause between other retinols (e.g. Skinceuticals, prescription, etc) and subsequent products, or just this one? This is a new recommendation to me and now I'm afraid I've been doing it wrong for, er, years.

  7. Which do you like more? This or Luna?

  8. Oh snap. This sounds heavenly! I'm only 27 though... I can Probably hold out a little longer

  9. Hi Caroline, would you say the results of this one are quicker than the Zelens vit A? Should i go for this one instead of the Zelens or is it worth it to pay the extra for the Zelens? (If I only buy one for now :) )

    Thank you,

  10. Oh my god! Straight to the top of my wish list. Love you Hirons don't even dissapear, I hope you bring an annual beauty/skincare annual out soon, it would he lovely to keep and collect. Xx

  11. Dear Caroline,

    what are your thoughts on the rest of the line? Like the cleansing system and the serum?

    Thank you,

  12. This is really interesting to me, it sounds like a great introduction to retinols as it seems quite gentle indeed and in all honesty, I was expecting a higher price!

  13. I love it, it's brilliant. Delivery (to Germany) was super fast and the packaging was lovely. I've never used a retinol product before but got intrigued with it after I saw your favourites video and researched the different forms of retinol - I am absolutely pleased with it and will keep it in my routine. We'll see about the long-term effects in 10 years (the scientist in me would prefer to test it properly and use it only on one half of the face, oh my)...
    Love, Christina

  14. I signed up for their emails and got a 10% discount code. There is also free delivery to Europe.

  15. Hi Caroline!

    I'll start by saying I absolutely love your blog. First came across you a couple years ago when I was getting awful under the skin cyst-like bumps that would hang around for weeks-months and leave me scarred. Watched your videos with Dr. Sam - self-diagnosed myself - (i'm a veterinary student in the states and hopefully that explains my personal interest in reading research articles and ingredients for my own dermatology). SO that being said, Thank you so much for your time and generosity.

    I do have an actual question: I travel a lot during the holidays to NYC and London (family and friends). I'm in need of a moisturizer (no SPF) but struggling to find a travel friendly pot or tube whatever. Generally I stick to Embryolisse with my serums underneath or mixed in. Any recommendations for a daily moisturizer or great night moisturizer with boost that could fit my lifestyle? (Goals: I turn 25 soon. I don't want to come out my 2 clinical years looking like I aged 10 so open to retinol, A etc.)


    1. So jealous you're in NYC. I would be at Sephora for Kate Somerville all the time! Nourish and goat milk are amazing.

  16. I may give it a try once I finish Luna! I've heard that the Ordinary retinol product is also good, but I want to transition to airtight and travel friendly packages, so this looks perfect for me. I have a question: is it ok to layer different retinol products? I have Luna for the face, and I have the verso retinol eye contour serum. The nights when I use Luna I don't use Verso, and vice versa, because I don't know if that's ok. I read that it's not a good idea to combine niacinamide and vitamine C, but I haven't heard about layering products with retinol. Thanks!

  17. This does sound good - but I have too many "premium" products to justify any more right now. if I'm alternating lactic acid with vitamin c serum I'm not sure where another product / vitamin A / retinol is going to fit into the mix....

  18. I am currently using a prescription strength retinol that really makes a huge difference, but that one sounds amazing when I want something gentler afterwards.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

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  20. Hi Caroline. Would you recommend this or a different product for sensitive (eczema) skin? Skin has appearance of crepe paper. Am age 41. Thanks, Jayne

  21. Dear Caroline, can you tell us what's the % of HR retinoid in it? Thanks.

  22. Thank you so much for recommending this Caroline! I've never considered using a product like this before as my skin is generally clear and hydrated. However, i do get a problem with the odd cystic spot that stays for months. I bought this based on your recommendation and am gobsmacked at how well it works. It dried up the spot and got rid of it, and took care of the dark patches that it left behind too. It's also made my skin look better. I can't quite put my finger on how but I think it's the kind of healthy look that a glycolic peel gives me. Thank you again for your review. I wouldn't have bought the product otherwise as it's a big investment for me, and am so pleased that I have a way to get rid of those cystic spots that normally leave behind a bit of a crater.

    Emily x