There are no ifs or buts about it – retinol is the MVP of any skincare routine and one of the few tried-and-proven ingredients of all time.
Beyond being an undisputed anti-ager, the vitamin A derivative also minimizes dark spots, improves skin elasticity, and boosts skin cell turnover.
But, as with most potent ingredients, the skincare champion has its own set of quirks. For one, it might make conditions such as eczema appear worse.
Then there’s the confusion between Retin-As and retinoids.
So, to help you understand all the brass tacks about this skincare elixir, we dove deep into research and learned the following about retinol.
Keep scrolling to become a fellow retinol guru.
Properties Featured: Antioxidant
Primary Benefits: Boosts collagen production, evens skin tone, increases cell turnover, and reverses effects of sun damage.
Perfect For: Oily and acne-prone skin types plus anyone looking to reduce signs of skin aging.
Not Suitable For: Individuals with eczema, overly sensitive skin, rosacea, and women who are pregnant or nursing.
How Often Can You Use It: Start using it twice a week to minimize irritation. Also, since sunlight deactivates retinol, use it at night, followed by a moisturizer.
Works Well With: Research shows it works perfectly with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, hydrating cleansers, and niacinamide.
Shouldn’t Be Used With: AHAs, BHAs & PHAs, astringents, benzoyl peroxide, heavy scrubs, toners, and vitamin C since they might trigger irritation.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A and is used for anti-aging and acne-reducing purposes. Even though most people assume it’s an exfoliant, the MVP of skincare routines works as an antioxidant.
A vitamin A molecule, retinol, falls under the umbrella of retinoids. It works to tackle aging and dark spot concerns. It’s also effective at boosting collagen production, increasing skin elasticity, and preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
What’s the Difference Between Retinol, Retinoid, and Retin-A?
Retin-A and retinol belong to a class of ingredients known as retinoids. Both boost skin cell turnover and help reverse signs of skin aging.
However, store-bought retinol requires conversion in the skin to the active form. Retin-A is a prescription product that is potent and more effective at blasting wrinkles and acne. You’ll have to consult a dermatologist to get a prescription.
Benefits of Retinol
Retinol is the gold standard of anti-aging products and for various reasons:
Blasts Acne: It acts as an exfoliant and balances sebum production, subsequently unclogging pores and preventing breakouts.
Boosts Collagen Production: Retinol stimulates the growth of new skin cells and enhances elastin and collagen production to offer you wrinkle-free skin.
Enhances Skin Texture: Retinol provides your skin with more turgidity and structure by increasing skin cell turnover. Plus, it’ll smoothen your skin and reduce dullness
Reduces Appearances of Fine Lines & Wrinkles: The ingredient boosts collagen production, which allows you to enjoy youthful skin free of fine lines and wrinkles.
Reverses Effects of Sun Damage: The antioxidants in retinol help reduce sun damage effects like dark spots and hyperpigmentation
How to Use Retinol
When it comes to this skincare MVP, less is more. Here’s how best to use it for optimal results:
- Apply a pea-sized amount to your skin three times a week and titrate based on skin tolerance
- You can mitigate irritation by applying your moisturizer before using retinol
- Apply all over your face but don’t apply too close to your lash line
- Avoid using it around your eyes
PSA: Retinol comes in various concentrations (0.25% to 2.5% in rare cases). So, if you’re starting, go for products with a 0.25% concentration or less. You can then work your way up the ladder as tolerated.
The Side Effects of Retinol
The powerhouse ingredient can cause dryness, irritation, and peeling. Therefore, individuals with overly sensitive skin and pregnant or nursing women should avoid it altogether.
Retinol can also be damaging to people with eczema or rosacea. It can flare up the skin conditions and enhance irritation. Still, most dermatologists suggest that individuals with sensitive skin like rosacea might still use retinol, but they’d have to introduce it into their routines gradually – maybe once a week and prep their skin with a topical moisturizer.
Retinoids can also make your skin overly sensitive to other products, treatments, and the sun. Don’t also use it alongside astringents, alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, and vitamin C since the combinations can dry out and trigger irritation.
You’ll have to halt applying retinol a week before going through treatments like chemical peels, facials, laser therapy, or waxing.
Here are some market options you can try as you kickstart your retinol journey:
Inkey List Retinol Serum
If you’re trying to save your coins, go with Inkey serum. The unbelievably budget-friendly serum contains a 1% concentration of stabilized retinol, 0.5% granactive retinoid (the gentler sister of tretinoin), and squalene to boost moisture retention while minimizing irritation.
Yeouth Retinol Serum
With a slew of glimmering reviews, this premium-quality retinol treatment is undoubtedly a fan favorite. Backed by dermatologists and beauty enthusiasts alike, the serum delivers firming effects by activating retinoid receptors in our skin that stimulate collagen and elastin production.
It contains 2.5% encapsulated retinol, the highest concentration you can get.
CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
Yes, even those with sensitive or dry skin can give retinol treatments a go. Apart from the encapsulated retinol, the serum contains skin-strengthening ceramides, which replenish and protect the skin barrier, and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide.