How much do we love retinol? Let us count the ways. Retinol is a superstar ingredient with multiple benefits. It can be used to help minimize the appearance of blemishes and the visible signs of aging. For this reason, it can be found in more and more over-the-counter creams as well as at the top of every dermatologist’s list.
For some, retinol can be an intimidating ingredient because it does have some side effects that can be uncomfortable and irritating (literally). But many OTC creams feature a form of retinol that is milder than the prescription versions. In this way, you can use retinol without the irritating side effects and have the best of both worlds. Let’s take a more in-depth look at retinol and how it works.
What Is Retinol and What Are the Benefits?
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and belongs to the retinoid family. It works thanks to its remarkable ability to restore the look of firmness in collagen-deprived skin, including skin that’s experienced sun overexposure. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and works to keep skin taut and bouncy. It naturally degrades as we age, which causes skin to manifest the look of wrinkling and sagging.
Retinol can also help combat the appearance of blemishes because of its ability to help encourage cell turnover (make cells shed faster and more effectively to prevent them piling up and clogging pores). Basically, retinol helps to unclog pores.
As if minimizing the appearance of aging and breakouts wasn’t already enough, retinol does something else: when used regularly, it can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation as a result of UV exposure and acne scarring. It does so by helping to reducing the amount of melanin in the skin (melanin is a skin pigment that also gives eyes and hair their color).
Retinol’s Side Effects
Prescription retinoids can be very irritating, particularly on sensitive skin and for people who haven’t used retinols before. Common issues with retinol include peeling, redness, irritation and dryness. In some cases, these issues can be severe enough to discourage people from continuing treatment. However, as you can surmise, finding a way to continue using retinol will help you reap its full benefits.
On the plus side, the peak of retinol-induced irritation is usually in the first 1-2 weeks of use. Afterwards, irritation naturally subsides as your skin becomes accustomed to it. However, don’t worry that your skin becoming accustomed to retinol will diminish its efficacy – it will continue to be effective as a treatment even after irritation naturally subsides.
How to Use Retinol
After applying retinol at night and then cleansing your face in the morning, be sure to still use a broad spectrum SPF. This will help prevent further unwanted side effects and irritation.
As far as application goes, make sure you apply retinol to thoroughly cleansed skin. If you are brand new to using retinol, start with a milder formulation that contains 0.25% or 0.5% before moving onto 1% formulations. Increasing strengths over time will help your skin adjust to retinol more easily.
Ageless Total Overnight Retinol Masque
This mask is a great way to introduce retinol to your skincare routine. It’s a remarkable product that features this star ingredient, along with others, like microspheres of marine collagen which continuously hydrate skin.
Apply a thick layer of this overnight mask onto cleansed skin before bed for best results. In the morning, rinse it off with tepid water. Apply this mask 2-3 times a week and watch your overall skin appearance improve with regular use.