There’s no shortage of skincare advice – some good and some profoundly bad. Even among skincare professionals, advice often varies dramatically. Nearly all dermatologists agree that the use of retinol yields smoother, tighter, and a more even toned skin – antiaging gold standard for more than 60 years! There are few tricks to getting the most out any retinol skincare.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is an OTC (over the counter) form of Vitamin A, capable of boosting collagen production, neutralizing free radicals, and diminishing dark spots, and revving-up cellular turnover. Unlike like prescription-strength retinoids which work directly with receptors, our skin must first convert retinol metabolically into Retinaldehyde (Retinal) and then into Retinoic Acid – where skin magic enters the realm of possibilities.
The efficiency and speed of the skin’s conversion process varies within individuals, therefore the fewer conversions required helps to improve concentrations of retinoic acid. Retinyl Esters, like Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Propionate, and Retinyl Acetate, require three conversion steps and are therefore less effective. New generation retinoid esters, like Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate or Retinyl Retinoate, show great promise.
Until research catches up, vegan Retinol remains my retinoid of choice. It delivers dramatic results without the traumatic retinization – flaking, peeling, redness, irritation and inflammation. Synthetically grown in sterile lab conditions, vegan retinol produces fewer skin sensitivities. Of course, retinol is also sourced 100% naturally from animal liver – gross.
Who Should and Should Not Use Retinol?
Anyone interested in slowing the visible signs of aging and repairing existing damage, should consider retinoid skincare, beginning in their mid-thirties. It’s ability to normalize keratinization and sebum production within the skin make it equally beneficial for acne-prone skin, as early as the late teens. It is important for anyone that is planning a pregnancy, is pregnant, or breast-feeding, to consult with their Healthcare Provider prior to using any retinoid.
If new to retinoids, know the benefits of easing into retinization with minimal inflammation and few surprises. Few other ingredients can compare for improving skin quality. Too much of a good thing can go bad, so it's important to mind the dose. Here’s few tips prior to introducing a retinol skincare to your routine:
- Only consider Retinol products with specific potency displayed and opaque containers. Check the ingredient list for retinol.
- Look for Retinol with a potency of 0.5% or higher.
- Once purchased, store in a cool, dark place.
Strengthen Skin Barrier Function and Minimize Inflammation for 2 Weeks
- Switch to a gentle, sulfate-free facial cleanser
- Avoid AHAs/BHAs, clay masks, facial scrubs and any aggressive exfoliation.
- Consider an antioxidant and/or Niacinamide enriched moisturizer
- Only use at night as retinol is both light and heat sensitive
- Before using any new retinol, first apply a thin layer of Niacinamide or Peptide moisturizer to sensitive areas like eyes and mouth, allowing sufficient time to absorb. Never apply retinoids to damp skin.
- Start slowly – use every third night for the first week, every other night for the second week, and every day by the third week.
- If dryness, peeling, or redness becomes excessive, reduce application frequency.
Besting Retinization – Appears 3 – 7 Days After Application
- To combat dryness, consider layering a facial oil over hydrating moisturizer.
- Employ oil exfoliation to diminish peeling and sloughing.
- If retinization flares while stepping up your retinol routine, consider buffering or mixing with a few drops of a Niacinamide or Peptide moisturizer.
- When experiencing severe retinization, see #10.
Retinol is coveted for good reasons – it works and is powerful. Learning to harness that power is so worth the effort. If you haven’t tried it ever or lately, now is a perfect time.
Cheers to Better Skin!