Retinol is one of the most well-known skincare ingredients, providing effective anti-ageing results. Like many skincare ‘buzzwords’, retinol is the subject of internet chatter and many common myths.
So, what is the real lowdown on retinol?
In this beginner’s guide to retinol, we’re going to clear up the facts from the fiction, revealing how you can use this amazing ingredient safely in your skincare regime.
What is retinol?
Retinol is also known as vitamin A and is used topically to boost collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Unlike many other anti-ageing ingredients, retinol has been backed by research.
Will I suffer from irritation?
Every user reacts differently to retinol. Some people experience irritation, redness and flaking while others have no side effects.
Proteins in the skin called retinol receptors boost collagen production by releasing retinoids into skin cells.
Retinol converts into retinoic acid; the substance which results in irritation. Your skin can produce retinoid receptors to help control the reaction to retinol. Those with lower levels of retinoid receptors have more irritation than those with higher amounts.
What is the difference in retinol percentage?
Retinol comes in different strengths – you’ll mainly find percentages of 0.1 or 0.2% in creams. Higher percentages, such as 1 or 2% are usually in serum form.
If you have sensitive skin, its best to start with a low concentration to see how your skin reacts. If you don’t notice any irritation, move up to a stronger percentage.
Live Skincare Regenerate Retinol Serumis formulated with 2.5% retinol but contains soothing aloe to help calm your skin. Additionally, hydrating jojoba oil prevents dryness to leave skin supple and strong.
Should you only apply Retinol at night?
While you may have been previous told to apply retinol at night, there is no specific rule to suggest that you can’t use retinol in your morning routine. However, your skin is more likely to respond better to retinol at night as being exposed to the sun can degrade vitamin A.
Your skin also renews itself at night, so it makes more sense to use retinol in your evening skincare regime.
Is retinol really the best ingredient to use for ageing skin?
Yes, several studies have shown that vitamin A is the only skincare ingredient proven to minimise fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol encourages cells turnover for the growth of new cells and promotes collagen and elastin production.
Do I need a prescription to purchase retinol?
No. Retin-A or Tretinoin (another form of vitamin A) is the ingredient which requires a prescription. This type of vitamin A is stronger than retinol due to the higher levels of retinoic acid, so it penetrates the skin quickly to provide faster results.
Retinol acts in the same way but it’s a weaker formula and takes longer to see its results. However, you don’t need a prescription to purchase it and it causes less side effects.
Can retinol be used for acne?
Yes, retinol is recommended for acne as it helps to unclog pores. It can also be used to minimise acne scarring.
Retinol can be used to treat hyperpigmentation, dark spots and scarring. This is because retinol stimulates cell turnover to reveal newer skin.
At what age should you start using retinol?
If you’re using retinol for ageing, then you should start using it in your mid to late 20s to prevent wrinkles. Although, its never too late to start using retinol in your routine.
If you plan on using retinol for acne, its best to consult a dermatologist beforehand.
How long does it take to notice results?
It usually takes at least eight to ten weeks to begin noticing visible results. Sometimes, it may take a little longer, depending on the strength of retinol you use and how often you use it.
What’s the best way to use retinol?
You should begin by applying retinol to your skin once a week, especially if you have sensitive skin. After a few weeks, you can use it two to three times per week, building up to nightly.
As retinol is an active ingredient, you only need to use a small amount to cover your face and neck (make sure you avoid the delicate eye area).
Remember, you’ll need to use sunscreen in the morning as retinol makes your skin more susceptible to skin damage from the sun.
Do I still need to exfoliate my skin?
Retinol isn’t an exfoliant. Retinol works on a deeper level to promote skin cell turnover, whereas an exfoliant works on the surface of the skin to eliminate dead skin cells.
Using an alpha hydroxy acid like glycolic acid will help to exfoliate the skin’s surface. Using this once to twice weekly is enough when using retinol. Use a daily morning and evening moisturiser to keep hydration levels high so your skin is soft and smooth.