Retinol is the beauty buzz word that’s probably burning your ears right about now. It’s one of the most hyped-up ingredients in skincare. But does it deserve all the attention? Hell yes! In fact, we say give it even more.
It’s loved by many, but it’s also feared and misunderstood by many more. Retinol can be your worst nightmare or best friend, and we’re here to make sure it’s the latter. It sounds like something found in a chemistry lab and not to be used without a white coat and goggles, but it doesn’t take rocket science to be able to use it. Thank god.
It works at a deep, cellular level to reduce acne, lighten dark spots, increase the production of collagen and elastin therefore minimising the appearance of acne scars, and brighten the skin. But we haven’t even told you the best part yet - it can be used on any skin type and tone.
WHAT IS RETINOL?
Put simply, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. There are many different types of retinol that come under the general term retinoids - anything and everything that comes from the powerhouse vitamin. Retinol and retinoids aren’t the same, but they both need to be used with caution. Still, no lab dress code needed, just our top tips. But we’ll get to that later on.
What are the skincare benefits of retinol?
HELPS CALM ACNE
Acne can really mess with our self-confidence. But you know what can mess with acne? Retinol. It can kick acne’s ass by speeding up the rate of cell turnover - the crème de la crème of beautiful skin. It’s more sort after than the latest beauty products. Or better yet beauty products that claim to stimulate it. But what actually is it and why do we want more of it so badly? And if you didn’t already, you will now.
Cell turnover is the process of removing dead skin cells to make room for newer, healthier cells. Or everything you need to smash ultimate skin goals. This typically happens every 28 days but as we age, the speed at which they shed begins to slow down.
A collection of these dead skin cells on the surface of the skin is one of the main causes of acne, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. It essentially dissolves unwanted skin cells but remains gentle enough to be used on any type of acne without causing further irritation - cue the ass-kicking.
They can also block topical skincare products designed to treat acne from entering deep into the skin to do its thing. Retinol can’t claim the spotlight and banish acne on its own. But it can enhance the effects of a treatment paving the way to the source. So, we suggest you add retinol to your complexion cocktail yesterday. But better late than never.
Retinol is also a very powerful ingredient for helping with scarring and specifically acne scarring. It aids with cell rejuvenation and therefore can minimise the appearance of deep acne scars. Of course, we would always recommend combining this with microneedling and chemical peels if you really want to tackle those acne scars head on. Nonetheless, add this powerhouse ingredient into your at home skincare routine and you’ll definitely notice a difference.
FADES DARK SPOTS
Dark spots are often forgotten about in the world of skincare concerns which seems pretty unfair when they’re such a common problem. But we’re going to change that. As always, we got you.
If you suffer from dark spots, chances are you’ve spent one too many days in the sun. The colour of our skin depends on the amount of melanin it produces. High amounts of sun exposure cause melanin to up the ante and produce more of it which darkens the skin for that desired sun-kissed glow.
This is all fun and games until you could give a leopard a run for its money. After years spent in the sun melanin can become damaged or clumped together as the skin’s constantly having to create more, and lots of it. The build-up of darker cells can be seen from the surface of the skin and are what we call sunspots. While the phrase says ‘a leopard can’t change its spots', you can. Or lighten them at the very least.
Using retinol to stimulate cell turnover will replace the damaged cells with brand new ones and help to unclog the skin by bringing the build-up to the surface and fade away.
STIMULATES COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN PRODUCTION
Retinol is the hidden gem of anti-ageing. It’s made up of molecules that are small enough to reach the dermis (the middle layer of skin where all the good stuff happens). Once inside, retinol gets to work on neutralising free radicals, boosting collagen and elastin, and reduces the rise of collagenase - not to be confused with collagen as it does the total opposite and breaks it down. Don’t ever say you want more of this.
Collagen and elastin are both proteins found in the connective tissue of the skin. Collagen is the foundation of the skin giving it strength and shape, while elastin allows the skin to stretch and bounce back to its original position. Together, they’re a double threat against fine lines and wrinkles.
Regular use of retinol can help your skin appear plumper, smoother and tighter.
TURNS UP THE GLOW
It works like an exfoliator does on the skin, but even better. It doesn’t just remove dead skin cells as your typical exfoliator does. We still want this of course, without it our skin becomes dull, ashy and vulnerable to blemishes. It’s a no thanks from us.
Retinol brings brand new, untouched cells to the surface, stat. We don’t have time to wait around for our dream skin and neither do you. These virgin cells are full of life and radiance giving you a natural glow so bright you can finally ditch the highlighter. You’ll want to pinch yourself every morning as you face a new reality (pun intended). Warning: it’s real and it’ll hurt so just embrace it already.
TIPS FOR USING RETINOL
- Skipping sunscreen is never the right answer, but when using retinol, it’s a hard no. If you’re investing time and money in retinol, you’ll want to keep its effects for the long haul. We assume. As it prompts regular cell turnover, the skin you had yesterday might not be made up of the same cells you have today. You get a new chance to care for your skin and make up for years of neglect, so for the love of skincare, please protect it and wear SPF.
- Be patient. Results won’t be an overnight process, but easy come easy go, right? Always use a pea-size drop of retinol, no more no less. Going OTT will only put you on the fast track to irritation. If your skin begins to react badly, retinol will be a no go for some time, and you’ll be even further away from the results you had within reach.
- There are types of retinol that are broken down by sunlight, so don’t use retinol during the day unless the product specifically says to do so. If you’ve been given the go-ahead, don’t expose your skin to direct sunlight immediately after you’ve applied retinol as it needs time to be absorbed into the skin. It’d be like pouring perfection down the drain otherwise. Once it’s in, you’re good to go. Unless it’s strictly nighttime retinol, obviously.
- Start small and work your way up. Retinol is typically found in 0.25%, 0.5%, and 1%, but if you’re new to using retinol, you should start at the lowest percentage and slowly transition to 1% for the best results. As you increase the percentage, it’s wise to do a patch test to see how your skin reacts. It’s better to be safe than sorry after all.
- Gradually introduce retinol into your skincare routine. Like you would with any new skincare product (we hope), retinol needs to be carefully introduced into your beauty regime. Especially if it’s on the stronger end of the scale. We recommend beginning to apply retinol every 3 days then every other day. And finally, when you’re ready, every day. But you must be consistent.
Our holy-grail retinol products
A potent 1% retinol serum for those who know how to handle their retinol. Dermaceutic has never let us down when it comes to a serum and this one is no different. While it’s strong in strength, it doesn’t leave the skin feeling irritated that it’ll be begging for more. For those attempting to try 1% for the first time, this is a great place to start.
It does everything retinol does and more. It contains equal amounts of pure vitamin C & E to combat photoageing and its appearance. Because of this, your skin will be more sensitive to sunlight and it’s one that needs to be applied at nighttime.
If you’re looking to use retinol specifically to brighten your complexion, this one's for you. It targets dullness, uneven skin tone and discolouration with a rapid cell turnover rate. With a unique blend of retinol, melanin inhibitors, antioxidants, and vitamins, you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven.
The formula is available in 0.25%, 0.5%, and 1% so you can choose ZO Skin Health no matter where you are on your journey.
So, you’ve heard of retinol gels, serums, and moisturisers, but have you heard of an overnight retinol mask?
Face masks are great, but they’re not quite socially acceptable to wear out and about just yet. Running errands with a face mask on is bound to be greeted with raised eyebrows, but sometimes there’s just no time to sit still and wait. Image has come up with a solution to your problem with an anti-ageing face mask to wear to bed.
Rich in hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, soybean oil, shea butter and licorice extract, this retinol mask won’t dry your skin out. Perfect for skin prone to dryness.
Calling all multitaskers - if adding another step into your nighttime routine sounds impossible, this moisturiser has your back as it keeps your retinol and moisture levels up.
As we sleep, our skin goes into repair mode to regenerate cells under attack all day from UVA and pollution. Beauty sleep isn’t a myth as the more sleep you get, the more time your skin has to heal. Adding retinol into to the mix to enhance cell turnover will be doing your skin a solid and take the pressure off. Especially if your sleep schedule is a hot mess.
This botanical-based serum contains a combination of retinol, active algae extracts, proteins, amino acids, and antioxidants. It’s surprisingly lightweight for being rich in so many desirable ingredients. Exactly what we like to hear when choosing a serum, or any skincare product for that matter.
Targeted growth factors and extremozyme technology significantly increase the production of collagen when added to retinol to provide both instant and long-term results. Younger looking skin isn’t as far away as you think with iS Clinic Youth Serum. Good thing too since we’re not getting any younger.
Apply twice a day, morning and night.