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What's Retinol and Should I Be Using It?

What's Retinol and Should I Be Using It?

Retinol has become a buzzword in the skincare world, and for good reason. Retinol belongs to a class of ingredients known as retinoids, which are a form of vitamin A. Retinols are like the little sister to more potent prescription retinoids that you may recognize like Retin-A and Tretinoin. You may hear people refer to these prescription retinoids as retinols, but retinols are typically over-the-counter products. Don’t discount these more mass-market retinol products. They may not be as strong as prescription retinoids, but they can still be very effective! All retinoids work to boost collagen production and speed up cell turnover, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fading dark and post-acne spots, and improving overall skin texture. The rapid cell turnover helps unclog pores and discourage breakouts, making retinoids a popular acne treatment.

Benefits of Retinol

  • Boosts collagen production
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improves skin texture
  • Unclogs pores
  • Regulates oily skin
  • Prevents acne 
  • Fades hyperpigmentation
  • Repairs sun damage
  • Increases new skin cell turnover

With all these amazing benefits, you can see why retinols and other retinoids are considered holy grail ingredients.

Now that we know all of that, you're probably wondering whether or not you should be using a retinoid.

Short answer, definitely. 

Most dermatologists will say if you do nothing else, you should use a retinoid and sunscreen. However, there are some things to consider. Anyone pregnant, planning, or breastfeeding should avoid using retinoids. They can cause dryness, peeling, and irritation, which can cause flare ups for those with skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. You may experience initial irritation even if your skin isn’t typically sensitive. But we have some tips to help your skin transition to retinoids.

How to use retinol for best results. 

First of all, start slow. If you’ve never used a retinoid, an over-the-counter retinol product can be a great introduction. Dermatologists recommend starting with a low concentration (0.25% or 0.3%) once or twice a week on non-consecutive nights. A good schedule to eventually get to is using retinol for 2 nights on, 1 night off, alternating with an exfoliating product and hydrating treatment. Since skin may become flaky, an exfoliant can help remove the dead skin cells. And a nourishing product can aid in repairing the skin barrier.

  1. Wash your face.
  2. Use eye cream to protect the delicate skin in the area.
  3. Wait until skin is completely dry. Ingredients absorb more deeply into damp skin, and this can cause more irritation.
  4. Apply a pea-size of retinol to face. 
  5. Follow up with moisturizer.
  6. Remember to use a high-SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen the morning after, as retinol makes skin more sensitive to the sun. 

*Although optional on nights you use retinol, you can tone and layer your serums after step 1. Just make sure to avoid other harsh ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, and Vitamin C to prevent irritation. 

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