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What Does Retinol Do?

What Does Retinol Do?

The Ins and Outs of Retinol 

Hi everyone, Tina here (+1 662 830 8246,

Today I am going to be addressing a topic many of you have asked about – what is retinol and should I be using it? The simple answer is YES!

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a synthetic derivative of vitamin A, the group of fat-soluble vitamins common in carrots, eggs and, sweet potatoes. When retinol is applied, it converts to retinoic acid by specialized enzymes found in the skin. Retinoic acid can also be applied topically, but is much harsher than a retinol cream or serum, as it does not convert naturally over time. While "retinol" is often used as a catchall term for products containing a vitamin A derivative, it's technically a type of retinoid, of which there are several variations that work at different levels.

What Does Retinol Do?

Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient in skincare because it alters the behavior of aged cells so they act in a more youthful manner. Retinoids work by increasing collagen production as well as increasing the rate of skin cell turnover. Effective in treating acne, blackheads, and clogged pores by reducing the stickiness of the cells that clog pores, as well as speeding up the rate at which the skin turns over and regenerates. As a result, they are ideal for improving your skin's overall texture, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, evening out skin tone, and decreasing pore size.

Retinoids not only increase the cellular turnover rate of keratinocytes (cells on the outermost layer of our skin), keeping younger, plumper cells closer to the surface, but they also help exfoliate older keratinocytes at an increased rate, which helps to unclog pores and keeps your skin refreshed without the need for harsh friction. Over a long period of use, retinoids also help increase the production of collagen and elastin in the dermis—the second, deeper layer of skin. Not many products work on so many aspects of skin health all at the same time.

Why should you use retinol?

When retinol is incorporated into age-preventive skincare routines, it helps accelerate skin renewal, enhance collagen production, and reduce the appearance of aging, uneven texture and, age spots.

Retinol benefits:

  • Prevent wrinkles due to its minimizing effect, as well as smooth out existing fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Brighten dull skin by exfoliating at a cellular level, which results in brighter and smoother skin.
  • Regulate oily skin and minimize breakouts.
  • Fade dark age spots, sun spots and hyperpigmentation, and evens out complexion over time.

What that means is: Even if you don't have acne or fine lines, the ingredient can help maintain an even skin tone and give your skin that elusive fresh-from-the-spa glow.

When to begin using retinol?

I suggest incorporating a retinol product into a skincare routine in your mid-to-late twenties, three to four times a week. By the 30s, 40s every other night is beneficial and in the 50s, 60s, and beyond, incorporate a retinol product five to seven times per week.

What side effects does retinol have?

I am sure you’ve heard the reputation of retinol being harsh on your skin—you can expect some dryness, redness, and peeling—but this is just a side effect of the retinoids effectively turning over cells. While this irritation can be, well, irritating, it can be managed with the proper routine. I recommend using acids (like BHAs, AHAs, and PHAs) sparingly when using retinol, and to be careful with treatments like chemical peels and lasers.

Since retinol is such a powerful ingredient, it can cause the skin to redden or peel if it's incorporated into a skincare regimen too quickly or used too often. Flakiness, dryness and even some breakouts can occur when retinol is first added to a routine. Typically, it just takes a little time for the skin to adjust. It’s suggested that you slowly ease retinol into your skincare routine depending on how much your skin reacts and monitor and adjust along the way. When using retinol cream or serum allow it to absorb in the skin for 20 to 30 minutes before applying another product on top.

Retinol also will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. No matter what, a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ should be worn religiously every day of the year, to prevent skin cancers, wrinkles, and sunspots.

Retinol for acne

If you are using an acne routine or products that include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or a prescription product, which may already have some form of retinoid and may even be stronger than over-the-counter skincare, adding more retinol could irritate the skin.

How do you use retinol in your skin-care routine?

I recommend using our Vitamin C serum in combination with either our EGF Skin Renewal Serum or our Anti-Aging Eye Cream (both contain retinol) since they serve different purposes and work synergistically to help your skin look its best. Since vitamin C protects your skin from damage caused by the sun and pollution, your serum should be applied in the morning, whereas retinol builds collagen and helps repair, so it should be used at night.

How long does it take to see a difference in your skin?

Like any new skin-care product, it takes a little time to see major results from retinol. Our clients report seeing results around four to six weeks, and for acne, it can take up to 12 for full improvement. When used for antiaging, in the short term, retinoids help open pores and give your skin a healthy glow by removing dead skin cells off the surface. Over the long-term—six months and beyond—they help grow new collagen and elastin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and lighten brown pigmentation.

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