What is Retinol?
Retinol is considered to be one of the most popular ingredients in the skincare industry. It is the backbone of nearly every good skincare routine. Whether you are a skincare enthusiast or professional, you’ve either been using retinol or have considered using it. What exactly is retinol? Retinol is a type of Vitamin A derivative called Retinoid¹.
Retinoids work by increasing collagen production as well as increasing the rate of skin cell turnover. Initially intended to be an acne treatment, Retinol is now used to treat a wide range of skin issues such as: reducing wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, psoriasis, skin keratosis, and it helps in slowing down the aging process². This results in more youthful, vibrant, and refreshed skin¹.
How Retinol Works
Retinol is one of the most effective substances at delaying the process of aging. It works on a cellular level by sinking into the skin and speeding up cell turnover to help the body generate new skin. The small molecules that form retinol go deep beneath the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) to the dermis (the inner layer of the two main layers of the skin)³
Once the molecules are in between the epidermis and dermal layers, retinol helps neutralize free radicals to boost collagen and elastin production⁴. This results in a plumping effect on the skin that reduces the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and pores. Retinol can unclog pores, which will improve pore size resulting in an even complexion. Although, it may not help with genetically large pores¹.
Retinol also has an exfoliating effect on the top surface of the skin, which can improve skin tone and texture. Not to mention its ability to lessen inflammation and control oil production. Due to its potency, retinol can be harsh on the skin; some dryness and peeling may be expected. Rest assured, this is just a direct effect of retinol effectively performing skin cell turnover. It may even stimulate blood flow to the face leaving skin with a rosy glow⁴.
Who Can Use Retinol
While it is never too early to begin using anti-aging products, your mid-twenties are a great time to begin incorporating retinol into your skincare regimen. Although retinol is generally good for any skin type, certain individuals (those with dry or sensitive skin) may want to take extra care to ease themselves into the retinol process³. First-time users have reported irritation, redness, and itchiness. It is advised not to apply retinol too frequently or use a high strength in the beginning⁴.
Integrating Retinol into Your Skincare Routine
It is important to incorporate a full product regime when using retinol. Cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen are all part of a healthy skincare routine. As retinol interacts with the skin, it consumes water as a by-product of that reaction⁴. This is why it is essential to keep the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) hydrated. Most people begin to see changes in their skin within 12 to 15 weeks of using retinol consistently.
Start by using retinol a couple of times a week and then build our tolerance to every other day. Once the skin has begun to tolerate the product, retinol may be used daily⁴.
- Perform a patch test behind your ear or on another small area that is not visibly apparent.
- For those with dry or sensitive skin, add a couple of drops of retinol into your moisturizer for a less drying effect on the skin.
- Pairing Retinol with Hyaluronic acid helps prevent irritation.
- Do not mix Retinol with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA), as the ingredients will cancel out the effectiveness of one another.
- Only apply Retinol at nighttime, and always follow up the next day with sunscreen.