What is retinol?

What is retinol?

What is retinol?

Alongside other buzzwords in the skincare industry retinol has established itself as a mainstay for anyone with a mild (or, admittedly, giant) interest in the realm of easy-to-use, power-packed skincare products. There are a plethora of reasons why retinol deserves to be on this love-you-dearly list, and we’re here to break those reasons down. In this comprehensive guide to the benefits of incorporating retinol into your skincare routine, we answer the following questions:

  • What is retinol?
  • What is retinol used for?
  • How do you incorporate retinol into in a skincare routine?
  • What about the side effects?
  • What retinol-based product is right for me?

So, on we march into our deep dive of one of skincare’s favourite products: retinol.

What is retinol?

Retinol is a type of Vitamin A that is renowned for its ability to help promote skin cell regeneration. As a result, it’s considered to be a powerful ingredient to incorporate into your daily or weekly skincare routine. Since its discovery and entrance onto the skincare scene in 1971, this humble ingredient has quickly taken on a reputation as a cure-all for every possible skincare concern. While there’s no such thing as miracles, retinol is certainly one of our best loved ingredients, and for good reason. It was quickly developed into an acne medicine because of its ability to help make fast work of clogged pores. Because it works to remove dead skin cells, retinol helps to reduce breakouts in the first place by preventing any dead cells from clogging pores. Once dermatologists realised that retinol was not only improving acne-related issues, but was also making a marked difference on common signs of ageing like defined wrinkles and dull skin, this little powerhouse product found its way into the mainstream beauty market. When combined with other ingredients in your skincare products, it can work wonders on your skin.

What is retinol used for?

As you may have already guessed, the benefits of a retinol-based product are widely considered to be vast. Retinol boasts the accolade of being one of the only clinically proven anti-ageing ingredients to actively (and effectively) reduce the appearance of even the deepest wrinkles. When applied to the skin, retinol give a rosy appearance, helps to reduce the signs of age and sunspots and even works to reduce visible wrinkles around the face and neck. When incorporated as an ingredient in skincare products for at-home-use, retinol, called retinoic acid in this form, expertly works to increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen and elastin production, and helps to fade out any hyperpigmentation you might have. It also helps skin stay hydrated, giving you a healthy glow. As if those benefits aren’t enough to woo even the most sceptical amongst us, retinoic acid also helps to stimulate the metabolism of skin cells, which can result in a more even skin texture and smaller pores. Retinol is so good that while it was once touted as a face-only product, it’s now being offered up as an anti-ageing agent for areas that are notorious for showing your true age like your neck, chest and the back of your hands. The key to skincare success with retinol is to make sure you’re choosing the right product for your skin type and beauty needs.

How do you incorporate retinol into a skincare routine?

Retinol for anti-ageing…

Retinol belongs to the vitamin A family and, among its many functions, is needed by the body to help keep the skin healthy. Retinoids, the compound found in your skincare products, is a derivatives of retinol. They were first used for acne treatment, but these days they are also regularly found in anti-aging skincare. Why is this? Retinoids improve the quality of the skin by boosting the skin's cell renewal rate, preventing the breakdown of collagen (which keeps skin firm) and strengthening the lower layers of the skin, which helps to reduce the formation of deep-set wrinkles. As a result, the skin looks fuller, firmer and more radiant, with fewer visible lines.

Retinol for acne and blemish control…

It’s a common misconception amongst beauty devotees and novices alike that retinol is an exfoliator. Surprisingly enough, it isn’t at all. Though, in its own way, it does act like one. One of the benefits of retinol is its ability to unclog pores and prevent further build up. When your pores are clean and can actually breathe, and your other skincare product goodness is actually given the chance to sink into your fresh skin, you’ll naturally see far fewer breakouts. Your skin will be a well-serviced machine and once you’ve kicked your acne to the curb, it’ll be gone without a trace.

Retinol for a radiant complexion…

Not only does retinol help prevent acne, it also helps to promote a healthy, radiant glow, which in turn leaves skin looking fresher and more youthful. As we age, our skin cells decrease in rapid turnover, so dead or dying cells are more prone to pile up. This can cause a range of different issues, depending on your skin type, but universally it means a more dull, lifeless complexion. Retinol helps to fights that. When absorbed into the skin, it goes to work on a deep, molecular level to normalise the turnover of your cells. Externally, that process is reflected (and rewarded) by a smoother texture overall, a brighter complexion, minimised pores, lessened hyperpigmentation, and fewer sun and age spots. No wonder retinol is so well loved by beauty aficionados the world over. We certainly find it hard not to get excited over a list like that.

Retinol helps fight severe skin issues...

Retinol isn’t limited to aiding the most common of skin issues. It’s a helpful go-to product for anyone who struggles with more unique, uncomfortable skincare concerns too. In fact, it can be a real help for those with skin conditions like warts or psoriasis. Make sure you speak to your doctor or dermatologists to see if Retinol could work for you. As unseemly as the topic might be, it’s an important one to discuss. If you have warts and have tried every treatment under the sun to no avail, give retinol a try. It has the ability to kill the cell growth of the wart itself, helping you to evict it once and for all. For psoriasis sufferers, one of the many benefits of retinol is its ability to slow down the cell growth of psoriasis patches.

What about the side effects of retinol?

Now we’ve covered the benefits of retinol and explore the reason why we love incorporating retinol into a good skincare routine, it’s time to take a look at the side effects. Remember, the most important thing to do with any new product you add into your regimen is to listen to your skin. Here are a few potential side effects of incorporating retinol into your beauty regime and how you can prevent them:

  1. Dry skin
  2. Because retinol helps to accelerate the turnover of skin cells in its creation of a new, fresh complexion, it’s important to be mindful of your moisturising routine in combination with your retinol one – particularly in winter. This cell turnover process means that the skin’s natural barrier that holds hydration in becomes impaired and can cause more water loss than your skin is accustomed to. 
  3. Blemishes
  4. Retinol was developed for, and is fantastic at, treating acne, however when putting a product as powerful as retinol on your skin, it can sometimes run haywire and a blemish or two might occur. As much as you may want to, don’t discontinue treatment. Consider continuing your routine for a few more weeks – there is a very high probability that your skin just needs a little more time to adjust. 
  5. Sun sensitivity
  6. As mentioned above, retinol works to boost new cell production by stripping your skin of its damaged or dead top layer. When this happens, you may find that your skin is more sensitive to the sun than you’re used to. To best protect from this, it is commonly suggested that you use your retinol-based products at night. If you do prefer a daytime treatment, it’s incredibly important that you pair your retinol with a healthy slathering of sun cream. 
  7. Itchy or blotchy skin
  8. As you work through the first few weeks of your retinol treatment, it’s not uncommon for users to experience an increased redness on their cheeks. This is, again due to a rapid shedding of excess cells, likely caused by inflammation. This side effect, most prominent on those with sensitive skin, typically goes away after a few weeks of use. Alongside the always fun case of excess redness, comes itchiness. A side effect of the side effect, itchiness often follows in the wake of inflammation, so as soon as that dies down, so too will any feelings that make you want to scratch. 
  9. Skin tightness
  10. Last but not least, when undergoing your first foray into the world of retinol, you may find that your skin feels increasingly tight. This sensation, contrary to what it may feel like, doesn’t mean that your wrinkles are disappearing (that process works on a more cellular level) but it does mean that your skin is experiencing a high level of dryness and a moisturiser would do it some good.

Who should be careful about using retinol?

Retinol is hailed by many as a miracle product for your skin – to the point where most dermatologists say that it’s worth incorporating retinol into your routine beginning in your late teens – particularly if you’re blemish prone. Whether you’re trying to fight the signs of ageing you currently face or you’re trying to stay ahead of Father Time, retinol is the product you should be using. There are, however, a few instances when this powerhouse ingredient should be avoided. A fairly standard one when it comes to absorbed chemicals, retinol shouldn’t be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Studies have concluded that if retinol is taken orally, it can cause serious birth defects, so regardless of the fact that retinol is a topical application in a skincare setting, doctors still say to steer clear. This one may come as more of a shock. If you wax your eyebrows, don’t use a retinol-containing product. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use it when it’s not wax time, but by using retinol before your trip to the salon for a wax means that you’re putting the delicate skin around your eye and/or lip areas in danger. Waxing during retinol use can cause lingering redness, at best, and can rip up some of your delicate skin, already being treated by the retinol, at worst. If you’re a retinol user and a wax devotee, simply discontinue use of your favourite retinol completely several days before your next appointment and you should be just fine. Finally, there is a small percentage of people who have ultrasensitive skin. If you know yourself to be one of them, skip the retinol, use a gentle exfoliator a few times a week, and cosy up to a daily sun cream application to prevent collagen loss in the first place.

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What product is right for you?

When choosing a product, it is important to consider your needs and the areas on which you’d like to concentrate your energies. As we’ve mentioned before, retinol has had a great deal of research carried out on its benefit to the skin. It can be used for a whole host of concerns – anti-ageing, sun damage, acne-prone skin, and more – so choose products based on your particular needs.

For anti-ageing…

The Redermic R Retinol Anti-Aging Night Cream by La Roche-Posay is a night treatment for fine lines and deeper wrinkles, such as around the lip and on the forehead areas, as well as hyperpigmentation caused by UV damage. The formula is suitable for even the most sensitive skin, although experts always recommend applying any new product on the inside of the arm as a 'test patch'. If your signs of ageing happen to be around the eye area, a good go-to product is La Roche-Posay Redermic R Eyes. It’s developed specifically to help reduce the signs of ageing around the eye area itself including crow’s feet and other wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles around the eye contour. Its formula is designed specifically for sensitive skin. It’s also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, which basically means that it won’t clog your pores.

For discoloration and hyperpigmentation…

The best way to fight skin concerns like discoloration or sun spots is to face the problem head on. La Roche-Posay Redermic R UV SPF 30 is your best friend in that regard. It’s an incredibly moisturising formula for daytime use that’s infused with a low dose of retinol and high protection of of SPF 30. So not only does it reduce the appearance of current sun and age spots, but it also works simultaneously to prevent them from developing . It’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin, so it is a simple addition to build into your day to day routine.

For acne or blemish-prone skin…

While its name suggests that it is more of an anti-ageing product, La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Treatment is designed to fight uneven skin tone and pigmentation – exactly the concerns associated with acne scarring. If you are having treatment please check in with your Doctor to see if a cosmetic retinol product is suitable for you.

What is Retinol?

In case the in-depth science is a little too much, or you don’t have time to give it a good study, there are a few key takeaways that make all the difference as you embark on your new skincare product discover. Here are our top five things you need to know about retinol:

    1. Retinol is a type of Vitamin A that is renowned for the way it encourages cell regeneration. It was originally thought to be useful solely in treating acne scarring and flare ups but dermatologists quickly realised how powerful it actually was. It has been a staple of the skincare product formulations every since.

    1. Retinol has been used to treat a whole host of different skin concerns – acne-prone skin, age spots, sun spots, eye area ageing, uneven skin, dulled complexion, hyperpigmentation, severe skin issues, you name it!

    1. It’s simple to incorporate retinol into your daily or weekly routine. It all depends on the product you use, but night time is typically the right time to get yourself acquainted with this power product – it’ll have time to work its magic while you sleep and you won’t risk the threat of overexposure in the sun.Always use SPF when you use Retinol products! 

        1. Retinol treatments do come with some side effects, but if the ones you experience are reddened skin or a few new spots cropping up, stick with the treatment. These are normal side effects that occur as your skin gets used to this powerful new product. They should dissipate after a few weeks of consistent use. If for some reason they don’t, then it’s time to listen to your skin and reevaluate your course of treatment.

      1. Choosing the right product is paramount to discovering an effective treatment and making it work for you. The key is to decide based on the condition that you’re targeting and stick with it. Soon it will become a habit and after a few weeks of building it into your routine, you’ll notice some very real, very gratifying changes.
        WC: 2522 Resources: http://www.retinol.com/what-is-retinol/
        http://www.retinol.com/retinol-benefits/
        https://www.drwangskincare.com/blogs/news/7-side-effects-of-retinol-and-7-ways-to-prevent-them