The Skin Miracle Of Retinol
If ever there was an essential ingredient needed to be included in your skincare regimen, it’s the wonders of retinol. Retinol is one of those miracle necessities that can initially be a little intimidating, however, because there are so many options for its use, the best word to describe this all-the-rave-skin-fix is active.
What this means is you need to know what you're doing when you apply it to prevent your skin from reacting and becoming overly dry, itchy or irritated, and possibly worse. There can be a general hesitation around introducing it into your skincare regime, despite hearing people give it a major thumbs up on this ingredient, but you want to ensure you know everything about retinol before you include it in your daily fare.
What Is Retinol?
Retinol has been dubbed many things, such as “a fix-it” and a "miracle ingredient" because of its ability to fix a range of skin problems, from acne to hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and a type of retinoid (retinoids are all forms of vitamin A) and vitamin A is important for the function and health of the skin. Retinoids are forms of vitamin A which help encourage healthy skin cell production, thus it’s vital to know that retinoids contain the crucial retinoid acid, just in different concentrations.
There are three different types of retinoids:
- Pure retinoic acid – this is the strongest form, which you can only buy with a prescription.
- Retinol – this is a weaker product and can be bought over the counter.
- Retinol derivatives – derivatives are gentler again, and can also be bought at your chemist.
For dry and sensitive skin, you might start with a retinyl palmitate or plain retinol for other skin types and build from there. However, using a weaker retinol still has the same anti-aging effects over time as a moderate-strength product.
The Benefits Of Retinol
There are so many things to celebrate about this miracle ingredient. For starters, retinol aids in the production of collagen, fighting free radicals, and exfoliation of the skin cells. It helps skin look firmer, clearer, and improves skin tone and texture. There’s no specific age requirement to start using retinol, but you could begin introducing it in your mid-twenties especially if breakouts or pigmentation are an issue.
Tretinoin, under the brand name Retin-A, was the first retinoid marketed for acne and breakouts, no matter the age. It was used as an acne treatment in the 1970s, but it was later discovered that it also fades pigmentation and speeds the turnover of superficial skin cells. Another benefit of retinoids is their ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin color.
Additional benefits include fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin. However, it takes three to six months of regular use before improvements in wrinkles are apparent—and the best results take six to 12 months. Because retinoids can cause skin dryness and irritation, doctors often recommend using them only every other day at first and then gradually working up to nightly applications. Make sure you wear a sunscreen during the day, because retinoids increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight.
Who Shouldn't Use Retinol
Those who should avoid using retinol are pregnant and breastfeeding women due to the risk of birth defects. Although the risk is low, it’s still best to not include it in your skincare regimen until after you’ve consulted with your obstetrician. You should also skip it too if you have psoriasis, eczema or rosacea as it can exacerbate these conditions.
Furthermore, you shouldn't mix retinol with Benzoyl peroxide, AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) & BHA (beta hydroxy acids) in your skincare products as this can compromise the skin.
Here are some tips on introducing retinol into your regime:
- Do always always apply retinol-based products in the evening, as most forms of retinoid break down with sun exposure. To get the best results, leave it on overnight.
- Don’t apply retinol to damp skin. Make sure you always apply to dry skin, as due to retinol’s potency--if you apply it on damp skin--this will concentrate the product deeper and leave you with dry, irritated skin.
- Do ease retinol into your regime. Start with a lower concentration every other night and increase slowly.
It is essential to slowly introduce retinol into your skincare regimen and build up tolerance. For optimum results wait at least 30 minutes before applying other skincare products, and limit initial use to once or twice a week, gradually increasing frequency as tolerated. Always be extra sun safe when using retinol or retinol-based products, as exposure to UV light reduces the products’ efficacy, making the use of it less beneficial. Retinol is also known to increase photo-sensitivity within your skin, therefore a high, broad spectrum sunscreen is recommended.
This skin miracle works best when applied in the evening, so why not wake up to dazzling and glowing skin? You deserve it.