It’s safe to say that retinol is a hot topic in skincare right now. But, what the heck is it?
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What is Retinol?
Retinol is a type of retinoid, which is a form of vitamin A. It helps visibly firm and smooth skin and reduces wrinkles by stimulating cells below the surface to produce more collagen and increase the rate of cell turnover. It also plumps the skin by strengthening the outer layer of skin and which keeps as much water from evaporating through the skin.
Why Use Retinol?
Retinol is most commonly known to soften fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also used to fade dark spots from sun damage and acne scars. Several years ago my dermatologist had me use retinol to help fade acne scars that wouldn’t go away. Before that, I thought it was just for wrinkles. But, as you see, it has multiple uses!
And it helps with mild-to-moderate acne. Besides fading scars, it also unblocks pores and improves skin texture.
How to Use
I recommend using it at night since sunlight causes retinol to be less effective and causes the skin to be more sensitive. Even when you apply it at night, be sure to use sunscreen during the day since your skin will be more sensitive.
Apply to dry skin and allow it to absorb before applying moisturizer. Start with a mild formula once or twice a week and work your way up. Using it a few times or every other night will most likely be often enough. It depends on how your skin reacts! You don’t want to overdo it, either by applying too often or using too strong of a formula, because it can cause your skin to thin.
Retinol can also cause peeling, dryness, tightness, and redness. If this happens, use it less frequently or apply hyaluronic acid after to help prevent irritation. (Plus retinol and hyaluronic acid work well together!) You can also mix it right in with moisturizer if your skin isn’t tolerating it well.
If you use vitamin C, use that in the morning and retinol at night. And of course sunscreen!
Be careful with products that exfoliate, like AHAs and BHAs. They can cause excess dryness and irritation. Also be careful if you have sensitive or dry skin, rosacea, eczema, or severe acne.
Avoid retinol if you are pregnant or nursing.
Note, it can take 4-6 weeks, or even up to 12 weeks to see results from a retinol product.
When picking a formula, look for other nourishing ingredients that protect the skin from irritation. This may be ceramides, peptides, hyaluronic acid, fatty acids, or a blend of botanicals.
After my prescription from my dermatologist, I wanted to find retinol I could pick up at the store on my own. I used First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum. This is a good formula for beginners because it is not as potent.
Paula’s Choice makes products without known irritants. So, when trying something that could be irritating to the skin, I have confidence that their formulas also contain beneficial ingredients to nourish the skin.
I’m currently using Ever Overnight Facial Cellular Renewal Oil. It’s a potent formula but has botanical oils and omega-3 fatty acids to nourish and revitalize skin.
I’m also currently using Peace Out Retinol Eye Stick. It’s affordable and good for all skin types.
Another eye cream that looks worth trying is First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream with Triple Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid in the same formula is *chef’s kiss*.
Reminders: Use sunscreen during the day and start slow.
In short, retinol is a powerhouse ingredient that helps with many skincare concerns. If you’re looking to add something to your skincare routine and have multiple concerns, retinol is a great option!
Do you use retinol?
Next, read What You Need to Know About Exfoliation, here.