How to use retinol
Lauded as one of the only effective ingredients to combat ageing, we explore what makes this the gold standard in skincare and why it needs to become part of your beauty arsenal.
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While retinol can sound like an aggressive ingredient and may conjure up images of red-raw skin, it is, in fact, the holy-grail if anti-ageing is on your wish list. With its ability to exfoliate the skin and promote an increase in collagen production, it really is essential for anyone in their 30’s or over who wants to combat fine lines and wrinkles.
What is retinol?
Vitamin A is the name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids which include retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters. “Essentially, this vitamin is a multi-tasker with its involvement in immune function, vision, reproduction, cellular communication and when it comes to our skin, promoting skin renewal and collagen stimulation,” explains Katy Bacon, education and sales Director for Murad Asia Pacific. Designed to help support cell growth, this is one of the most critical vitamins to add to your skincare regime if anti-ageing is a priority.
Who should use it?
Anyone that wants to combat the signs of ageing would benefit from adding this into their day-to-day skincare line-up. “Skin renewal and collagen production start to decline in our thirties, hence why fine lines and wrinkles start to crop up over this time. Thanks to the ingredients ability to increase cell turnover and build collagen, it’s an ideal product to be using at night”, Bacon further explains.
Is there an age you should start using it?
It is said that collagen levels start to decrease 1 percent per year from the age of 25, so starting to add this hero ingredient into your daily regime will hold you in good stead for combatting any signs of ageing that begin to appear. Bacon explains how this powerhouse ingredient can help the skin over different decades, “In your 20’s retinol is great for defending skin while also addressing the first signs of ageing. In your 30’s, this continues aiding in preventing further damage, while the ’40s and 50’s benefit from this ingredient for stimulating cell turn over, collagen production and other age-related concerns”, Bacon further explains.
What is the best way to apply it?
When dealing with an ingredient that is as active as retinol, it’s only natural that there are some conditions attached to be able to get the best out of the ingredient while also ensuring you don’t compromise the condition of your skin. For this reason, no matter what form of vitamin A you are using and in what formulation, it is best applied at night allowing for it to work it to its best abilities at a time when skin is most permeable. Bacon also suggests that approaching retinol with a slow and steady approach is best. “I generally recommend retinol products be introduced gradually, starting with a couple of applications a week, before building up to daily usage.” One of the other most vital points to keep in mind is that using this ingredient can result in the skin becoming photosensitive meaning that an SPF is an absolute must if it’s not already part of your skincare regime.
Are there different types of retinol?
In a nutshell yes, while you will be most familiar with retinol, there are different variations that all fall under vitamin A which is the name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids – these include the likes of retinal palmitate, retinaldehyde, retinyl retinoate and reninyl proprionate which are widely used in skincare products. Some of these derivatives contain a higher concentration of retinoic acid which produces faster results but are less tolerated on the skin, hence the need to build up your tolerance to them. While it can be tempting to jump straight onto a high concentration, it’s actually better to opt for retinol-based products which are much more tolerated by the skin. And while we’re preaching to you, it’s also worth noting that using retinol can be a game of patience – don’t expect miracles to happen overnight, it’s a process, but one that will pay off in buckets.
Expert advice for using retinol?
Keep your product out of direct sunlight – Vitamin A is extremely sensitive to light so exposing it to too much sun will degrade the product. On this note, the packaging is key – preferable you want your vitamin A products to be in an opaque container and even better, airtight.
Remember, little and lightly is the best approach for vitamin A, yes it may take longer, but your skin will thank you for it – 1-2 times a week is ample, to begin with, if you haven’t used this ingredient before.
Did you know, you can use vitamin A on your hands? It’s the perfect product to tackle those dark spots which can start to crop up. A word of caution though, always wear an SPF on hands during the day if you applying vitamin A to hands at night.
bh loves: O Cosmedics Retinol Concentrate 1%, $130; Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, $189; Dermalogica Age Smart Overnight Retinol Repair, $180; Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum, $85 (30 tabs); Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask, $93; Environ Focus Care Youth + Concentrated Retinol Serum 2, $83.40; La Roche Posay Redermic R Eyes, $45; ASAP Skin Products Advanced Eye Complex, $89 and Skin Physics Dragon’s Blood Ultra Plumping Night Cream, $80.
Do you use any of these retinol products?