Retinol is an increasingly popular and important factor in skincare routines……..
What is retinol?
Retinol is part of a group called ‘retinoids’, which are a type of Vitamin A. Retinol has gained increasing popularity over the last few years due to its wide range of skincare benefits.Other retinoids that are often used in skincare include, in order of increasing strength, retinyl palmitate (a combination of retinol with palmitic acid), retinaldehyde (also called Retinal), adapalene, tretinoin, and tazarotene.
Retinol can be found in any good skincare stores, and usually bought as a serum or cream.
What does retinol do?
Retinol promotes skin renewal and cell turnover, and helps collagen production (the ‘scaffolding’ in your skin), which leads to fresher, younger looking skin. Retinol can also help reduce uneven pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and is often used to help acne.
How do I use Retinol?
If you are new to using retinol or have sensitive/dry skin, then it’s best to start your skincare regime gently with a low-strength retinyl palmitate. For other skin types and more regular users, retinol can be used, and after around a year of use higher strengths can be used. Don’t worry too much about using low-strength retinol though, as long-term use seems just as good as long-term use of higher strength retinoids.
As with all skincare products, make sure you read the instructions of your retinol carefully, but generally if it is in a cream then apply a thin layer at night to clean, dry skin (retinol is used at night as sunlight can reduce its effectiveness). If it’s a serum, apply the retinol as a pea-sized drop over your entire face, wait for 20-30 minutes for it to absorb, then use your usual moisturiser.
When starting with retinol, your skin will take a while to get used to it, so it’s usually best to only apply once in the first week, then twice a week for two weeks, then three times a week for three weeks. You should then be able to progress to using retinol every night long-term as part of your regular skincare routine. During this work-up time your skin might get a little dry, flaky and irritated, but this should settle in time.
To be safer, you may want to test the retinol on a small area of skin to start with (called a ‘test patch’). This way, if the retinol reacts badly with your skin, at least only a small area will react as opposed to your entire face!
Is there anything I shouldn't do when using retinol?
Don’t be tempted to jump in too early with a high strength retinol. It’s best to give your skin time to get used to lower strengths first.
Don’t use other products such as acne products, acids or peels on the same nights as the retinol, as otherwise this can cause quite severe irritation and burning.
Don’t get caught in the sun. Retinol can make your skin sensitive to the sun and prone to sunburn or skin discoloration, so wear a sunscreen every day (aim for SPF 30 or higher)
You should avoid using retinols if you suffer from rosacea, eczema or psoriasis as retinol can increase inflammation and symptoms in these conditions. If you take any medication, check with your doctor than the retinol is not going to clash with your medicines.
Retinol and other retinoids can cause skin reactions and potentially interact with medications. If you are unsure, then always check with your doctor or skincare specialist before adding retinol to your skincare routine, especially if you are, or think you may be pregnant