What is Retinol?
Retinol is a derivative of the vitamin A family called retinoids. Our bodies require vitamin A for skin’s health, good vision, bone growth and build a strong immune system. As our bodies don’t naturally produce vitamin A, so it is important to consume different forms of it to help your body meet its minimum requirements.
As you may know, our skin is the last organ to get the vitamins we consume, thus topical application of vitamin A is the best way for our skin to enjoy the benefits vitamin A brings!
Brief History of Retinoids
How attitudes towards retinol/retinoids changed over the years?
Many people have a love-hate relationship with retinol/ retinoids. They may love the effects and results of what retinol/ retinoids do for the skin. The benefits of retinol/retinoids include:
On the other hand, they dislike the side effects that often come with its usage:
What is the difference between prescription formulas and ones you can buy from over-the-counter?
As it is a form of retinoic acid, Retin-A does not need to be broken down by the enzymes in your skin before it can be used. Retin-A products are approximately 100 times stronger than the average retinol cream you get over the counter. This strength comes with amazing and speedy results—diminished blemishes, reduction in wrinkles, boosted skin elasticity—but also major side effects.
However, Retin-A can cause itching, scaling, burning, peeling, and extreme redness when you first begin using the medication. Traditionally, Retin-A has only been prescribed for severe acne; however, some dermatologists are also now prescribing it to patients eager to reduce lines and improve skin firmness.
When Retinol (over-the-counter) is applied topically, enzymes in your skin convert retinol into retinaldehyde and then into retinoic acid. The conversion into retinoic acid can take at least a few weeks, which is why you should use retinol products consistently for a few months before expecting to see results. Since Retinol is gentler on the skin, therefore it has fewer side effects as compared to prescribed retinoic acid.
How Can We Use It From An Aesthetician’s Point of View?
When used correctly and consecutively, retinol has been shown to deliver results—brighter, smoother skin—in as little as four weeks. However, some people find retinol too harsh on their skin, so they discontinue the treatment before they even see visible results. There is a lot of concern about retinol/tretinoin being harsh or irritating to the skin. Retinol stimulate cell turnover, meaning that new cells push out old cells. However, if you use too much you will stimulate too much cell turnover, and your skin will get flaky and red.
Do remember that Retinol is a treatment, not a cream. You do not need to cover your entire face with it. Use a pea-size amount or less and dab a touch on your forehead, cheeks and chin and then massage in.
How do you pick the right retinol cream and serum?
For those with severe skin issues, a prescription is the best option to effectively treat your skin problems. Brands may mix retinol with other ingredients to create a more specific product for different skin issues. There are also other concerns, such as product type, administration methods, and frequency.
Retinol comes in multiple strengths: the most common are 1%, 0.5%, 0.3% and 0.25%. If the percentage of retinol is not listed on the label, it usually means the concentration is weaker than 0.25%. This simply means that the product will not provide your skin with the maximal benefits of retinol. Studies suggest you need to use at least 0.25% retinol or 0.025% tretinoin to be effective, so it is recommended to use the product that specifies the percentage.
When choosing a retinol product, it’s best to start with the lowest concentration before moving up. If you have thick or oily skin, you can try a higher-strength product. If you have thin or dry skin, start with the lower-strength option. Different skin types, such as sensitive skin, also come into play.You must know that no two retinol products are the same. Therefore, find ones that specifically target your skin issues. Most retinol users use retinol for the anti-aging benefits, but retinol can also be used for acne, uneven skin tone, and scarring.