Retinol is the key anti-ageing ingredient everyone is talking about at the moment, and that is most probably due to the fact that it works! Let’s dive straight in and I will tell you all about retinol including my personal experience with it.
Firstly, let’s cover what Retinol actually is. Topical vitamin A–based drugs called retinoids—the most used and most studied anti-aging compounds— reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin, under the brand name Retin-A, was the first retinoid. It was used as an acne treatment in the 1970s, but researchers later discovered that it also faded actinic keratosis spots, evened the appearance of pigmentation, and sped up the turnover of superficial skin cells.
Retinoids reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin color. Other benefits include; fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin. However, it can take the best part of three to six months of regular use before improvements in wrinkles are apparent—and the best results take six to 12 months of use.
Because retinoids can cause skin dryness and irritation, doctors often recommend using them only every other day at first and then gradually working up to nightly applications gradually. In the same way, as I have said in previous blogs about exfoliant products, you need to wear sunscreen during the day, because retinoids increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
Tretinoin (Retin-A, generic), tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac), and adapalene (Differin) are prescription retinoids. Adapalene is also available over the counter (in a 0.1% formulation versus the 0.3% prescription version). Other retinoids are still currently undergoing clinical trials.
Several over-the-counter products containing retinoids, such as retinol, are available. Because they’re not as strong (and thus less irritating), they are not as effective in reducing wrinkles as tretinoin; but they do improve the appearance of photo-aged skin. Tretinoin can be used with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for additional skin-smoothing effects.
Retinols do not work equally well on everyone – you should definitely not touch the stuff if you suffer from rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis as retinol can make you more vascular – meaning that you will end up with more inflammation and thereby worsening symptoms of whatever it is you are suffering from- however no-where did it tell me this when I had my first experience with Retinol!!!
As I am a self-diagnosed ‘beauty junkie’ I buy a lot of products online. More often or not they send little samples and sachets for me to try; mainly because I spend way over the promotion minimum spend. One day I got a lovely sachet of Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream with 1.0% retinol. Here are the photos of the sachet and what was written on the packet. “Suggest use: Morning or night, apply a pea-size amount or less to clean, dry face, avoiding the eye area.” That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. At this time I didn’t know anything about retinol and one evening I decided to use my sachet…
Whilst I did avoid my eye area… luckily. Unfortunately, I did not use a pea-size amount. I had no idea how strong just 1.0% would be.
The day after I looked bloody incredible. Best. Skin. Day. Of. My. Life.
The day after however, my entire face started to peel and. See pictures below. It was painful with red blotches, it was sore and it felt so tight that no amount of moisture cold relieve me. This lasted for around 4-5 days before I started to feel better. Ever since I have been left with cystic spots that I can’t seem to get rid of. I have never had spots in my life, even in my teens, but I seem to have so many sitting under the skin that won’t even come to the surface. They are sore and lumpy and the only thing I can put it down to is the retinol experience.
This is not an advert for or against retinol, but after I had conducted some research I discovered that many dermatologists don’t advise people who have psoriasis to use retinol. I have psoriasis! There should have been more warnings on the packaging of the sample; I should have researched the ingredients before putting it on my face and I should have only used a pea-size amount. The moral of the story is to do your own research before using a new product or ingredient and to also conduct patch tests to see how your skin reacts.
Let me learn the lessons for you folks!
Retinol can be beneficial for…
- Anti-aging – As well as targeting wrinkles, retinol visibly brightens dark circles, plumps loose skin, and reduces dullness.
- Prevention – Once we reach our twenties our skin starts to produce less collagen so it’s a good time to start using retinol to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and defend against the early signs of aging.
- Acne/breakouts – Retinol encourages cell turnover in the lower layers of the skin and reduces the overproduction of sebum, so it stops breakouts from forming by preventing dead skin cells and excess oils from clogging pores.
- Scarring/pigmentation – Retinol increases cell production in the base layer of the skin, which in turn helps to stimulate cell turnover in the upper layers. As each layer is renewed, scars and marks from sun damage or breakouts fade and soon disappear.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL and contact me or your dermatologist for more information if you are not sure if retinol is a good suit for your skin needs.