Dermatologists and skincare experts have often regarded retinol as the 'gold standard' ingredient for facial creams and serums because it contains a lot of benefits, such as unclogging pores and smoothing wrinkles.
Dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee and founder of SLMD Skincare said that retinol is the most tried and tested anti-aging ingredient available that does not need a doctor's prescription. In order to benefit from its full potential, one must know how it works and how to use it properly.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is commonly found in animal foods, such as milk, oily fish, and liver. It is a fat-soluble derivative of vitamin A that helps the body form and maintain healthy skin.
Registered dietician Stefani Sassos said that retinol could also regulate the immune system and boosts protection against infections.
Retinol is the over-the-counter-version of tretinoin or retinoic acid, often prescribed to treat acne and anti-aging in the world of skincare.
Both retinol and retinoic acid are under one umbrella of vitamin A known as a retinoid. Retinol is also a weaker version of retinoic acid, although it can still induce similar skin benefits. That means using the prescribed version is not necessary to experience their benefits.
Plus, retinol can be bought at a much cheaper price than the prescribed version of retinoic acid, and one need not schedule a doctor's appointment to get it.
How Does Retinol Works?
According to Dr. Lee, retinol works differently in different skin types. "It prevents the breakdown of collagen, simultaneously encourages rapid cell turnover, and thickens the subcutaneous layer of the skin, which is where wrinkles originate."
When retinol is applied on the face, it stops collagen breakdown and stimulates elastin and collagen production to prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
According to a study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, about 0.1% retinol moisturizer is used once every day to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, firmness, and elasticity, and radiation damage in just eight weeks.
Furthermore, retinol is also found to have keratolytic properties that promote skin cell turnover, keeping the pores clear and preventing the formation of blackheads and whiteheads. Aside from preventing acne, it also improves the skin tone, which leaves a fresher skin that glows.
Although there are some debates about what age should people start using retinol, Dr. Lee said that it could be used even before symptoms appear. But to be sure, it is best to consult a dermatologist if retinol is right for your skin.
Best Way To Use Retinol
Traditionally, retinol is used at night because the skin repairs itself while sleeping. It makes anti-aging creams more useful and effective when applied before bedtime. Also, sunlight is not the best partner for retinol.
Ultra-violet rays are thought to degrade retinol and its effectiveness to the skin. That is why more daytime moisturizers now contain retinol and SPF to reduce the degradation effects of daylight and make sure it is still effective.
When using retinol, start applying it gradually like every other night until it becomes nightly after the skin has adjusted to it. Try also to apply a moisturizer to minimize irritation and be sure to follow the directions for proper application and get the best results.