So you've heard about retinol and believe it's time to start incorporating it into your skincare routine? Great! You've arrived at the right place. This is a complete retinol beginner's guide, and I'll walk you through everything you need to know. Is it a lot? Yes. Is it interesting? I think so!
RETINOL 101: WHAT IS RETINOL?
Retinol is frequently referred to as the "holy grail" of skincare ingredients. It's a Vitamin A derivative with numerous benefits, including increased cell turnover and skin cell rejuvenation – both of which are important for anti-aging.
The first thing you should know is that the terms "retinol" and "retinoid" are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. This is a case of "all thumbs are fingers, but all fingers aren't thumbs." Retinol is a type of retinoid, but not all retinoids are retinol.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF RETINOL OR RETINOIDS?
The term "retinoid" refers to the entire family of Vitamin A derivatives, which includes both prescription and over-the-counter products. The following are some examples of retinoids:
- Retinol esters
Retinol on the other hand is a very specific type of retinoid. It’s what dermatologists and estheticians recommend for anti-aging because of the research behind it.
So which one should you use? For that, you need to understand how retinoids penetrate the skin.
HOW DO RETINOIDS WORK?
All Vitamin A formulas begin as Retinol Esters and are converted to Retinol, Retinaldehyde, and finally Retinoic Acid. Prescription-strength retinoids are pure retinoic acid that, when applied to the skin, begins working immediately, but with a higher risk of side effects.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RETINOL AND OTHER RETINOIDS?
Over-the-counter retinol formulas must be converted to retinoic acid through your skin. The conversion process can take some time, but it usually allows the skin to become accustomed to the formula, reducing the likelihood of irritation.
Furthermore, the longer the process of converting retinol esters to retinoic acid takes, the lower the concentration of the active ingredient. Retinoic acid is one of those situations in which less is more.
BENEFITS OF RETINOL (WHAT DOES VITAMIN A DO?)
Vitamin A is naturally produced in your body, but its production declines as you age. Remember how your cells change as you age? This is why babies have such smooth skin and older people have skin elasticity and wrinkle problems. It's fascinating to learn about the science behind it. In general, retinoids help your body increase cell turnover, collagen production, and can help with acne. Retinol, in particular, can significantly improve wrinkles, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, skin elasticity, and skin texture.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF RETINOIDS?
Retinoids have a variety of side effects that vary depending on the user and the formulation. Irritation, redness, sun sensitivity, and skin drying are common side effects.
WHO SHOULD USE RETINOL?
The most popular reason people add retinol to their routine is to reap the anti-aging benefits retinol provides. Gentle to moderate retinoids are employed for this use.
Another common use for retinol is as an acne treatment. These are normally retinoids that can be prescribed to you by a dermatologist. They are strong and you need to be very careful while using them.
Although there are some side effects, retinoids are generally considered safe for most people to use.
WHEN SHOULD I START USING RETINOL?
Most skincare professionals agree that retinol should be introduced into skincare routines for most people in their twenties, preferably in their midtwenties. This is when our skin begins to show signs of slowed cell and collagen production. This retinol guide will explain how to keep your skin safe while using retinol.
There are numerous factors that contribute to wrinkles and ageing, and you cannot avoid all of them, so thorough care is essential. You can't avoid the sun or stop making facial expressions, but you can incorporate a retinol-based product into your routine.
CAN RETINOIDS BE USED ON SENSITIVE SKIN?
While every individual is unique and no skincare advice is universal – yes. The majority of dermatologists believe that sensitive skin can be trained to tolerate retinol. So long as it is introduced and used correctly.
Products with retinol esters, mildest type of retinoid is probably the best option for people with sensitive skin. Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Propionate are the mildest forms because they require a 3 step conversion before Retinoic Acid is formed.
IS IT SAFE TO USE RETINOL WHILE PREGNANT?
During your pregnancy, experts advise you to avoid retinol and all other Vitamin A derivatives. Oral retinoids have been shown to cause birth defects, but there isn't enough evidence to suggest that topical retinoids have the same effect.
Take a deep breath and consult your doctor if you've been using retinoids accidentally during your pregnancy. Don't panic; you'll probably be fine, but you may have to give up your favourite retinol products for a while.
WHICH RETINOID IS BEST FOR A BEGINNER?
A formula containing at least 0.1 percent retinol, retinyl esters, or retinaldehyde is preferred. Unless you have extremely sensitive skin, I recommend starting with 0.5 percent.
This is an excellent choices for beginners.
Over time and as you finish your current formulas, you can gradually work your way up to a stronger formula such as
HOW TO USE RETINOL?
Retinol should be introduced to your skin slowly and with caution. The standard recommendation is this:
For the first two weeks, use retinol once a week. If there is limited skin irritation, up the formula for the next two weeks.
In the next two weeks, use retinol twice a week. If there is limited skin irritation, up the formula for the next two weeks.
After four weeks, use retinol every other day. If there is limited skin irritation, you can choose to move to every night or just stick with every other night.
Retinol can be just as effective when used every other night vs every night. I personally use if every other night, even after years of use.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO USE RETINOL?
Many retinoid ingredients are "photo unstable," which means they are unstable in the light and will not work if exposed to too much light. This is why most dermatologists recommend including retinol in your nightly skincare routine. In fact, using retinol makes your skin more susceptible to sun damage such as burning, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, so you should avoid using it during the day.
APPLYING SPF TO RETINOL
When you first start using retinol, the most important thing to remember is to use SPF. They work well together, and SPF is the Batman to Retinol's Robin. Although it may not appear that way at times, and retinol is the hero of this article, SPF is the ultimate skincare product.
If you are concerned about using retinol, there is only one rule to follow: apply SPF and reapply it on a regular basis. Remember to apply retinol in the evenings and SPF in the mornings.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE RETINOL TO WORK?
Unless you are using a prescription formula (which should still take a few weeks), most retinol formulas require patience. Retinol affects the skin in deeper layers and alters how your skin cells develop; these changes occur even if you cannot see them on the surface. The general rule of thumb is to wait 3-6 months or a minimum of twelve weeks before declaring that it is no longer working for you.
The first few weeks could be difficult and patchy. Your skin as well as the experience. There are some things you can do to make the process go more smoothly.
- Pair your retinol with a soothing moisturiser.
- Choose hydrating and moisturising products to use on the other days to aid in the healing process of your skin.
- Start slowly and gradually increase or decrease the potency based on your skin's tolerance.
Overall, there is a lot to know and learn about retinoids. As with all skincare, there is no one-size-fits-all formula, so use what you've learned here and keep researching to find what works for you. Remember to be patient when it comes to retinol. Don't try to rush results by introducing high doses or frequency.