- By Dr. Alan J. Parks
- June 29, 2020
Chances are you’ve heard of it. Maybe you weren’t quite sure what it was or how it worked. Maybe you’re familiar but have been hesitant to try it. Hint: It’s a popular skincare ingredient scientifically proven to help with anti-aging efforts, in addition to acne, dark spots and texture issues. It’s retinol! Retinol is one of the most beloved skincare ingredients for all ages, but many don’t know why retinol is so great for skin, and where they can find it. It’s an effective ingredient, however, it’s also strong and is known to cause some irritation, so many patients (and especially those with sensitive skin) are hesitant to try it. If you’re wanting to learn about retinol and all it does, read on!
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a type of retinoid, which are different types of Vitamin A derivatives. Retinols work by breaking apart the bond between dead skin cells that can clog pores and in turn speeding up the rate of cell turnover leading to faster cell regeneration. Retinol helps to increase collagen production- if you aren’t sure what collagen is, it’s a protein naturally found in your body that helps to keep your skin elastic (bouncy and supple) and hydrated.
Why Should I Be Using Retinol?
The process outlined above is why retinol is known to be a beloved anti-aging ingredient; as we age, our bodies produce less collagen, and retinol helps to restore that collagen in our skin to keep skin firm and smooth, avoiding wrinkles and fine lines. Due to the fact that retinol helps to clear your pores of dead skin cells, it’s also an effective treatment for acne and blackheads, in addition to improving your skin’s texture, discoloration and enlarged pores. As far as skincare products go, it can be found in a couple forms. Retinol and retinyl palmitate are available over the counter, however, retinol is the stronger form. They’re both milder than prescription-strength retinoids, like tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene. Retinol can be helpful for many different people with different skin types and concerns, however it’s possible that those with sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea or psoriasis could struggle a bit in finding the right retinol regimen that will work for them, as it can be drying and irritating.
Retinol comes in many different strengths, the most common being 0.25%, 0.3%, 0.5% and 1%. If you have sensitive skin or are new to retinol, it’s best to start at the lowest concentration to get your skin adjusted to the ingredient and avoid dryness and flaking. You can also start by using the product every other day or only a few times per week while your skin is getting accustomed to adding a new ingredient to your regimen. Gradually work your way up to using the product more often. Even if you never make it up to using it nightly, you’ll still get the great benefits from retinol using it every other day or a few times per week. Retinol should also only be used at night, as it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Many patients and customers want to know if their skin isn’t red and flaking, is the product still working? The answer is yes. While redness and flaking can be common with retinol, everyone’s skin is different and react to ingredients in different ways. Just because your skin isn’t showing any side effects does not mean the product isn’t working.
What Products Should I Be Using?
SkinMedica offers options for varying strengths of retinol, depending on what level of strength you’re interested in based on your skin type and concerns. The levels offered are SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.25, SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 and the SkinMedica Retinol Complex 1.0. For a formula suitable for all skin types, try out the Jan Marini Intervention Retinol Plus. It contains highly-concentrated retinol along with peptides, antioxidants, green tea, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and dimethicone for an effective yet gentle and soothing treatment. For a highly-concentrated retinol formula, the Obagi360 Retinol 1.0 is a great go-to. It’s highly effective yet non-irritating and helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for younger looking skin. If you’re looking for something to help with aging but won’t irritate your sensitive skin, the PCA Skin Treatment for Sensitive Skin is a great option. It contains a gentle retinol solution paired with niacinamide to help minimize signs of aging while soothing sensitive skin and avoiding further irritation.
Retinol can be a tricky ingredient to start, so be sure to start slow if you’re unsure of how your skin will react. , and as always, reach out if you have any questions!