Retinol is a superstar ingredient in the world of anti aging skincare products. Retinol is an umbrella term for a various forms of vitamin A, all of which treat multiple skin issues. It has a ton of research to support its effectiveness in treating multiple signs of aging like pigmentation, tone, texture and even the production of collagen and elastin. Though retinol has been used in commercial skincare products for decades there is still a lot of confusion as to what it does, the forms it comes in, and how to use it to achieve results.
The two main distinctions when it comes to topical vitamin A is that some are prescription and some are over-the-counter. Prescription versions available from your dermatologist or GP under names such as Retin-A are stronger so work faster. The down side is that they often cause signs of irritation such as flaking and redness. On the other hand, over-the-counter versions may take longer to work but are less likely to irritate the skin. Over time, you’ll ultimately get the same results whether you opt for prescription or OTC.
While over-the-counter forms of vitamin A are usually less irritating than prescription not all derivatives of it are equal. Generally pure retinol is the most potent derivative of vitamin A available for retail. 1% retinol is considered identical in action to most prescription vitamin A,. Don’t let the over-the-counter thing fool you; some retail retinols are potent! Other derivatives like retinyl palmitate-found in our skin- and retialdehyde are often helpful, especially for those who are super sensitive or have trouble adjusting to retinoids.
When Should You Start Using A Retinoid?
Yesterday! Or the sooner the better. This doesn’t mean you should rush out and get the strongest form of it-chronic irritation causes inflammation which is one of skin’s biggest enemies.
Incorporating a retinoid will definitely bring your skincare routine to the next level. Still, there is no single ingredient that can’t use a little help from its friends. Retinoids, like all other skincare actives, work even better if used in conjunction with one another. Add peptides, anioxidants like vitamins C and E. You’re skin will thank you! Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t slab on these skincare goodies and then venture out for your day without a healthy dose of SPF. I’m not saying you have to leave your place in a bee keeper’s outfit but be mindful of how much further the efforts you put into taking care of your skin will go if you’re protecting it.
More tidbits on Retinoids
OTC retinol breaks down in the skin to become retinoic acid. Prescription Vit A is already in this form and that’s why it can be very irritating
Retinol is not an exfoliant. Because it can cause flaking it is often confused as exfoliation. Retinol works on a deeper level than exfoliants to effect cell behaviour. Exfoliants, such as AHAs or BHAs encourage our skin to shed naturally and much more subtly and creates smoother skin on the surface.
Regardless of the form of retinoid you opt for always work it into your routine gradually to allow your skin to build a tolerance and minimize irritation. You don’t want to treat one issue while creating another, right? There may be some trial and error while you find out what form and at what frequency works best for you. Don’t force it.