Retinol Skincare: The Secret to Radiant Skin
When it comes to anti aging and rejuvenating the skin, there is no ingredient in skincare more reputable than retinol. Medical experts agree that the revolutionary and widely studied active has proven efficacy in diminishing the visible effects of aging. Even so, I still find retinol to be misunderstood and, therefore, underutilized.
I always say never to follow the same routine as your girlfriend. But this is especially true with retinol products. Determining the right formula and protocol to benefit your specific skin is crucial because otherwise, you may see some unwanted side effects. Here is the best retinol skincare routine, products, and tips to optimize results.
Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is a crucial ingredient in maintaining optimum skin health, addressing concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne. This essential vitamin works by attaching itself to skin cells, normalizing their function, and getting them to behave like younger, healthier versions of themselves.
There are several forms of vitamin A. Retinol and retinoic acid belong to a class of vitamin A known as retinoids, which began as an effective treatment for acne. American dermatologist Dr. Albert Klingman first discovered Tretinoin (also known as retinoic acid) in 1962. After noticing his patients' skin becoming smoother, more youthful, and even-toned, the use of retinol for aging began.
Tretinoin is available in prescription strength from a dermatologist or in its much gentler form, retinol, in over-the-counter products. Retinol converts into retinoic acid once it's applied to the skin, and while it's not as potent as its prescription relative, there's plenty of scientific evidence to prove that it works.
A 2015 study published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared the effects of retinol and retinoic acid after twelve weeks of topical application, concluding that both ingredients positively affect collagen production and significantly reduce facial wrinkles.
Incorporating Retinol into Your Skincare Routine
Your girlfriend may rave to you about her favorite retinol serum but don't be so quick to pick up the same product because you may see some unwanted side effects. While retinoids are a proven treatment to address skin aging, they can cause undesirable reactions like burning, scaling, or dermatitis, depending on your skin condition and the formula's potency. This issue is more noticeable with maximum strength retinoids like prescription-only tretinoin, whereas other retinoids like retinol and retinol palmitate are less irritating.
I always suggest starting slowly and gradually increasing retinol usage to avoid potential irritation. Environ has incredible step-up programs that allow your skin to adjust to the active ingredients. I'll share more about these products below.
I like to apply retinol at night because the skin is already rejuvenating while you sleep. Plus, retinol breaks down when exposed to UV rays, making it less effective, so using it during your nighttime routine will yield the best results.
Dosing and Frequency of Use
In addition to the strength, how much and how often you use retinol will affect results. As I mentioned, starting your retinol out low and slow is key to avoiding adverse reactions. Start by adding one drop of retinol to your moisturizer every other evening. After two weeks, continue with this small amount every night. As your skin becomes acclimated, you can start to increase the amount of product until you can use it on its own.
It’s also important to always wear SPF 30 when using retinol, since your skin will be more sensitive to the sun, especially during the initial introductory period. You’ll also want to avoid exfoliating acids and physical exfoliators to prevent dryness and irritation.
If you’d like an expert's opinion, a board certified dermatologist or an esthetician can evaluate your skin and help you determine which vitamin A product is best for you.
Our Favorite Retinol Products
Environ Retinol Step Up System
Formulated with a high concentration of Vitamin A, Environ’s formulas help to normalize the appearance of skin abnormalities and damage, and promote healthy-looking skin. Use 2-4 bottles per step before going to the next step.
Oio Lab Anti Aging Night Oil Treatment
This night elixir helps tighten the skin, counteract the signs of aging, and enhance healthy skin color using a potent blend of an advanced, stable form of 5% Retinol H-10, botanical extracts, and organic oils.
Protective Nourishment Active A Serum
Active A Serum works to diminish fine lines and tighten pores. This concentrate is formulated for nighttime use; expect mild peeling during its first phase, followed by a healthy and renewed appearance.
KNC All-Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask
This all-natural retinol and gold-infused KNC eye mask will give you fresh, hydrated, smooth, de-puffed, bright eyes, all without the chemicals. With retinol to refine texture and stimulate blood flow and aloe to soothe and reduce redness.