What is Retinol? How to include it into your skin care routine
Retinol. It’s one of the most popular ingredients on the market. You’ve probably got a Retinol product sat in your bathroom as we speak but do you really know what it does? Or how to use it properly?
Once a product strictly prescribed by doctors, this transformative ingredient now lines the shelves in the form of creams, serums, oils and gels. It’s powerful effects as proven by dermatologists have made it a skincare super product with booming popularity.
However, there still seems to be a lot of ambiguity around which retinol products to buy as well as questions about possible side effects.
In this article, we’ll answer all of your questions about what it is, how to apply it and what it can do for you.
What is Retinol?The term Retinol refers to topical products that contain a derivative of Vitamin A. Technically a type of Retinoid, these over the counter products are used to target anti-ageing, acne and uneven skin.
It should be noted however that Retinol products are not the same as the retinoids available on prescription, as those are more potent hence the need for a medical expert’s approval. Retinol is the strongest version available on the ‘over the counter’ market.
What is Vitamin A?
How does Retinol work?
In contrast to other anti-ageing products, the idea of Retinol isn’t simply to remove dead skin cells. Instead, the small molecules travel deep beneath the skin, beneath the epidermis to neutralise free radicals. This in turn stimulates the production of collagen and elastin to create a ‘plumping’ effect, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and shrinking enlarged pores. This increased rate of cell turnover refreshes and renews the skin, bringing younger, healthier cells to the surface and slowing the ageing of existing cells. As well as this, the Retinol also offers exfoliation to improve the skin’s texture and tone.
The ingredient also works to keep the pores unclogged by forming comedolytic agents that protect against blemishes and comedones, as well as maximising the skin’s hydration levels and reducing the impact of moisture loss.
Why Retinol is good for the skin:
- Smoothes fine lines and wrinkles
- Brightens and smoothes dull skin
- Minimizes breakouts & regulates oil
- Fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation
The benefits of Retinol
Anti-ageingIt’s the most common motive for skin care. How can we slow ageing and stay looking young forever? The answer - Retinol!
Up until your early 30s, your skin cells renew every 28 days. This creates a fresh layer of renewed skin that exudes youth. However, when you hit your mid 30s, this cell regeneration lessens, meaning the cells only refresh every 50, 60 or 70 days. This can leave your skin looking dull, dry and wrinkled. The horror!
Retinol speeds up this process, stimulating collagen and elastin production and causing your body to create fresh, new cells to brighten, smooth and plump the skin.
BrighteningThanks to that increased collagen production, your fresh skin cells will offer more of that sought after glow! The renewal of cells will fade dark spots, reduce hyper pigmentation and leave your skin looking bright and radiant.
Retinol helps to exfoliate on a cellular level, unveiling brighter, smoother, younger skin and fading the appearance of any blemishes, sun spots and scarring. Over time, this will transform your complexion, resulting in youthful, clear skin.
Retinol helps to keep the pores unclogged to prevent comedones, blemishes and excess oil. It also works to tighten the pores which causes them to create and emit less oil. This will help to balance the skin and promote a clear complexion.
How long until I see the benefits from Retinol?
It will take a little time before you start seeing major results from Retinol. Expect to see improvements in around 4 to 6 weeks, with acne taking up to 12 weeks for a full improvement.
In the short term, it will unclog your pores and remove dead cells from the surface, however over a longer period you'll really see the benefits of the new collagen and elastin creeping in, with fine lines and wrinkles reducing and dark areas lightening.
Does Retinol have any side effects?
Retinol has a reputation for being harsh on the skin, however when used properly these side effects can be avoided or minimised.
As the ingredient causes skin to shed cells faster than usual, there can be some impact on your skin health when you first begin using it. This could be effects such as flaking, dryness, irritation or breakouts. However once your skin gets through the adjustment period, these effects will reduce.
PRO tip: Use a hydrating sheet mask a few times a week throughout the adjustment period to boost your skin hydration and soothe the irritations. We suggest the BeautyPro Herb Infused Sheet Mask or the BeautyPro Coconut Oil Infused Sheet Mask.
To avoid having to deal with these initial irritations, make sure you start with the gentlest formula you can find and build it up. Start by applying it one night a week, then move up to 2 nights a week for 2 weeks, then 3 nights a week for 3 weeks and so on, until your skin becomes used to it. Retinol isn’t an ingredient that’s going to give you instant and drastic change so building up this routine will help to improve your long term results.
Make sure to always use a moisturiser after use to minimise the side effects and lock in some hydration.
To avoid further irritation, never use Retinol on a night where you’re using other harsh products such as a peel or strong acne treatments as this can cause damage to the skin.
One of the main side effects caused by Retinol is a sensitivity to sunlight. This is why we use Retinol in the evenings as sunlight can minimise its effects as well as causing damage to the skin. Make sure that the day after you use a Retinol, you apply an SPF sun cream to protect those fresh and youthful cells.
Who can use Retinol?
Retinol can be a powerful ingredient for most skin types, however it’s not a one size fits all approach. This is why building up your use is so important as it can help you to understand what is suitable for your skin.
Those with sensitive skin, especially those with conditions such as rosacea are warned against strong topicals such as retinols. To achieve the benefits of retinols, those with sensitive skin should use a retinyl ester. This is a less concentrated form of Vitamin A which isn’t aggressive on more sensitive skin.
In contrast, if you have serious acne, a visit to the doctor could help you to be prescribed a stronger form - a retinoid which will be more potent.
Retinol should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as vitamin A can be harmful when ingested in high doses. Though when applied topically it has been shown not to cause problems, doctors still recommend avoiding the ingredient.
Can Retinol help with acne?
If you’re suffering with moderate to severe acne that isn’t improving with other treatments, a Retinol can help.
It exfoliates to remove the dirt, dead cells or oils that might be blocking your pores, therefore preventing the formation of breakouts. The creation of new collagen and elastin is also a benefit for acnes as it helps to reduce the appearance of pores and acne scarring.
Retinol is a medium strength retinoid that can be purchased over the counter. While this may take longer to provide substantial results than its prescription strength counterpart, it does pose a lower risk of side effects and therefore less likely to cause irritation.
Start off with a Retinol to test its benefits and then visit a doctor if you feel that you need a stronger formula.
How often to use Retinol
As we’ve mentioned, Retinol isn’t an ingredient that you can jump straight into the deep end with. We recommend a low and slow approach of caution. Start by using it once a week to evaluate your tolerance, then increase your use gradually to help your skin become accustomed to it. Build up to using it every other day or 3 times a week for the best results.
How to include Retinol into your skincare routine
Retinol can be easily fit into your normal skincare routine. First cleanse, tone and exfoliate as part of your usual routine and then apply your retinol. Follow it with any serums you may use and a moisturizer or night cream. It is essential to keep the skin hydrated after use and ensure the skin’s barrier is protected.
If you're struggling with irritation from your Retinol, you can try the sandwich technique. Apply a thin layer of moisturiser before your Retinol to reduce the side effects, then follow with your normal application of moisturiser.
Dermatologists suggest pairing your Retinol with a Vitamin C serum. Use the Vitamin C serum each morning to protect your skin from free radical damage caused by sun and pollution. Then use your Retinol in the evening to build collagen and aid repair. Vitamin C is preventative, while Retinol is reparative.
Always follow Retinol use with a broad spectrum SPF 30+ the day after use to protect from sun sensitivity.
Retinol for your Eyes
The eyes can be one of the first places to show the signs of ageing. Fine lines can form, dark circles can appear and the skin can quickly appear tired and dull.
You can use Retinol to combat these issues.
The BeautyPro Retinol Under Eye Patch uses Retinol, Vitamin C and Aloe to brighten the skin, even its texture and soothe the area to leave you looking brighter and feeling better! In just 20 minutes, your skin will combat the signs of tiredness and ageing for instant results.
Repeated use over a longer period of time will really help to enhance these areas, powerfully improving the appearance of pigmentation and visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
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