Retinol is one of the most highly hyped skincare ingredients, however many individuals have a love-hate relationship with this ingredient, due to irritation, skin peeling, dehydration and sun sensitivity.
A little understanding on this antioxidant will dispel some of the myths associated with its use so even sensitive skin types can tolerate this superstar ingredient.
Derived from Vitamin A, retinoids are the single most important group of compounds used extensively to boost cell turnover, ramp up collagen, neutralise free radicals, diminish pigmentation, vanish acne and ward of skin cancer.
Retinol itself is not an active ingredient and must be converted to retinaldehyde via enzymes throughout the epidermis where it will eventually reach the skins dermis in the active form known as tretinoin.
The use of retinol requires a sustained effort and commitment, with its full effects observed after six months, so either commit fully or don’t bother at all! Clinical studies indicate an 87% improvement in acne lesions after 12 weeks of continual use with a retinoid and if you are seeking to reduce wrinkles the yield takes six months, with further improvements at twelve months of continual use.
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If you are concerned about retinisation effects, you can begin by prepping skin a week or two out so skin is in peak condition and has a strengthened acid mantle prior to commencing. If the skin has a impaired skin barrier, it has an increased susceptibility to irritation as the penetration of retinol will be enhanced.
Prepare skin with a slightly acidic cleanser that is gentle enough to purify and remove debris but will not disrupt the skins acid mantle of natural oils or affect its optimal pH which should sit somewhere ideally around 5.5. This pH is also perfect for the retinol as the activation of retinol by skin enzymes is optimal at a higher pH (5.5-6).
Antioxidant serums such as niacinamide can promote calm skin, assisting to reduce inflammation, improving the skins barrier and accelerating DNA repair. Niacinamide has a huge array of skincare benefits without the side effects, even at higher doses. Naturally found within your skin, it acts as both an antioxidant and enzyme, participating in many cellular processes involved in inflammation, immunity, barrier defence, moisture and pigmentation. Immortelle Vitamin B3 Serum
Facial oils provide vital lipids and anti-inflammatory compounds such as green tea polyphenols to accelerate barrier recovery and improve tolerance in sensitive skin types. They are also great to blanket skin, providing an extra lipid layer to lock in hydration to the dehydrating effects of retinol. Green Tea + Ginseng Facial Oil.
Ease into retinol use just two nights per week, adding a night every other week until tolerance develops. Slight flaking is normal and will dissipate but redness or severe peeling means you are using too much and too often. You may want to go to a lower strength and stretch the number of days between applications. Severe peeling, irritation and redness should always be discussed with your dermatologist.
Remember that retinol can be drying to the skin, so layer a blanket of hydration over your retinol serum with a hydrating moisturiser containing antioxidants such as vitamin C and E that will assist to speed up the skins renewal process while amplifying hydration to skin.
Retinol breaks down with exposure to light and air. Airless and opaque dark packaging will improve shelf life and maintain the integrity of your retinol product.
There are a number of myths on retinol when combined with acids or vitamin C, with consumer concerns on deactivating the retail or rendering it ineffective. Nether of these are supported by scientific research, in fact, using retinol with other active skin treatments like AHAs and vitamin C can increase the effectiveness of retinol, to speed up the skins renewal process, fading hyperpigmentation and boosting collagen faster.
Retinol, much like AHAs, can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn, however, it perfectly fine to use retinol products during the day, as long as you wear a broad spectrum sunscreen. Retinol with vitamin’s C and E work well under sunscreen, remaining stable and increasing the effectiveness of sunscreen which is why manufacturers are now including retinol and other antioxidants in SPF.