Retinol, also known as retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinol aldehyde and a host of other names, is a form of vitamin A. It acts as an extremely effective cell-communicator, connecting to damaged or aging skin cells and “telling” them how to behave like younger, healthier cells. This makes it one of the most powerful over-the-counter ingredients on the anti-aging skin care market for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Before adding retinol to your skin care regimen, it’s important to understand how this potent antioxidant works, as well as how to choose the best retinol product for you. Here at LovelySkin, we’ve put together a brief guide to get you started.
How does retinol work?
When retinol is absorbed into the skin, it is converted to retinoic acid. Retinoic acid helps surface skin cells to turn over rapidly, which makes way for new, healthy cells to grow in their place. The cellular turnover helps to slough away dark spots and slow melanin production. Retinol also helps to curb the breakdown of collagen and thicken the deeper layer of skin to prevent more wrinkles from forming.
Retinol is an antioxidant, which means that it has the power to protect the skin from the free radical damage that causes signs of premature aging. Antioxidants are crucial for reducing environmental damage caused by sun and pollution.
What is the difference between retinol and Retin-A?
Retinol is an over-the-counter retinoid that needs to be converted by the skin to retinoic acid in order to be effective. Retin-A is stronger, more potent version of retinol. It is obtained by prescription only and it already contains retinoic acid. Both have similar functions, however, due to its higher strength, Retin-A yields results more quickly than retinol. It’s possible to achieve the same results from retinol that you would from Retin-A, but it may take double or triple the time. Retin-A results may take weeks while retinol results may take months.
How do I choose the best retinol products?
Its mild potency makes retinol an especially great choice for those patients just starting out with an anti-aging skin care regimen. Retinol and its counterparts are known to cause mild to moderate skin irritation in the first two or three weeks of use, usually in the form of excessive dryness and flaking. This is why a sun protection product is especially important, as sun exposure could exacerbate retinol side effects. To help combat some of the irritation you may experience, you can add a heavier moisturizer to your regimen. You can also start by using retinol only every second or third day in order to help ease your skin into the transition.
Note that a very small percentage of individuals cannot tolerate retinol at all. Consult with your physician if you experience severe retinol side effects or if they persist for more than a few weeks.
Your other skin care products can help you achieve optimal results from retinol. Choose a cleanser and toner that will help clear your pores and prime your skin to absorb retinol more effectively. You also need a good moisturizer to help balance your skin, and it’s never a bad idea to layer serums that contain peptides and antioxidant benefits to further maximize your anti-aging benefits. Some acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide could deactivate retinol or prove too irritating when used in conjunction. Consult with your physician to create an anti-aging routine that also safely addresses adult acne.
Always look for retinol skin products that are packaged in opaque containers, as all forms of vitamin A are known to break down in air and light. We recommend using retinol products at night since they can become unstable in the light.
At LovelySkin.com, we offer a wide range of options for our customers. While we carry many high-quality retinol skin products, here are a few of our favorites:
SkinMedica Retinol Complex contains a bend of antioxidants and repairing agents to help renew and protect the skin and boost the retinol’s efficacy. SkinMedica Retinol Complex comes in multiple strengths, including Retinol Complex .25, Retinol Complex 0.5 and Retinol Complex 1.0, so that you can choose the perfect strength for you, no matter where you are in your anti-aging journey. The lightweight lotion helps to restore the skin and create a rejuvenated, youthful appearance over time.
Jan Marini Age Intervention Retinol Plus helps to transform maturing skin with a potent blend of retinol, antioxidants and peptides. The cream also contains hyaluronic acid to help bind moisture to the skin, and shea butter to moisturize and soothe. These ingredients help to calm and reduce the dryness and irritation associated with acclimating the skin to retinol treatments. With Replenix Retinol Smoothing Serum 5x, you’re getting more than just retinol.
Through exfoliation, Replenix Retinol Soothing Serum 5x helps to fade fine lines and wrinkles and improve the appearance of discoloration and dark spots. A blend of antioxidants helps to defend the skin against free radical damage while hyaluronic acid helps to boost the skin’s natural moisture. The formula also contains redness-reducing green tea extract to help calm irritation.
Do you have a question about retinol? Let us know in the comments section.