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Everything You Need to Know About Retinol

Although this anti-ageing powerhouse is not a new ingredient in the cosmeceutical world, there are a lot of questions surrounding whether Retinol is safe to use, when it can be applied to the skin and how to get results without causing any damage or irritation. We’re here to take a deeper look into this beloved yet complex ingredient and why you should add it to your routine… 

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative used to address a wide range of skin concerns, hence its popularity, from fine lines and wrinkles to dark spots and acne. When applied topically, it’s broken down into Retinoic Acid which directly impacts the cell structure within the skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production. In turn, the increased collagen reduces the appearance of wrinkles, fades dark spots and evens out skin texture thanks to its ability to go deeper into the skin, instead of just sitting on the top layer. 

What’s the difference between Retinol, Retin-A and Retinoids?

Retinol and Retin-A are both forms of Retinoids but Retinol is the most common form which is the one you see in retail skincare products. Retin-A, also known as Tretinoin, is a topical prescription cream often used to treat acne and scarring, however, over the counter Retinol products can improve the appearance of acne and scars due to the ingredient’s ability to exfoliate and remove dead cells.

Can anyone use Retinol? 

Unfortunately, Retinol won’t work its magic on all skin types so if you have extremely dry or sensitive skin, or suffer from rosacea, it’s best to avoid it. It’s also important to mention that first time Retinol users may experience some mild irritation and dryness which will subside once the skin gets used to the ingredient. If you experience any severe burning, redness or stinging, then stop using the product completely.

When should I start using Retinol? 

Products that contain this intense ingredient can sometimes be on the pricier side, so feel free to hold off incorporating it into your routine until your mid-20s which is when the premature signs of ageing can start to show. However, Retinol is not just a skin corrector, it works as a powerful preventative so the sooner it’s added into your regime, the better.

What are some tips for first time Retinol users? 

Retinol can make the skin photo-sensitive, meaning it will be extra sensitive to sunlight which is why most products formulated with this skin transforming ingredient are designed to be applied at night when the complexion won’t be exposed to UV rays. During the day, make sure you apply a sunscreen to protect the skin as Retinol can make the skin more prone to UV-induced damage.

It’s important to gradually increase your skin’s tolerance to Retinol by starting with small concentrations of the ingredient. First, try applying a 0.1% based product to the skin every few nights to see how your skin reacts and as its tolerance increases, you can safely up the concentration depending on your concerns and skin type. 

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