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Everything That You Need to Know About Retinol

August 17, 2021

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Everything That You Need to Know About Retinol

Retinol is one ingredient that everyone is talking about. It’s the gold-standard ingredient that has the potential to radically transform your skin, treating everything from acne to premature aging. Whatever your skincare concerns are, retinol is one ingredient that you want to look into incorporating into your routine. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the complexity of this ingredient, what it’s for, and the best way to use it. If you’ve landed on this article, chances are that you’re considering experimenting with retinol for the first time.

We believe that the secret to a successful skincare routine is consistency and understanding what ingredients can do for your skin. We’re deep diving into the world of all things retinol to find out what this ingredient can do for you and the best ways that you can incorporate it into your skincare routine. Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of retinol or devoted to the ingredient, there will be something in this guide just for you. Read on to find out everything you need to know about retinol.

What is retinol?


Retinol is a form of vitamin A and does everything that you can ever want from a skincare product – and then some. The best types of retinols are the ones that will replace almost every other product in your skincare routine. What makes retinol so unique is that it regulates your sebum production, giving you a stronger natural barrier that protects your skin and keeps it hydrated. Retinol also works as an anti-aging ingredient as it boosts your collagen production, regulating your cellular turnover to smooth your skin’s texture and keep it tight and firm to prevent sagging.


It’s one ingredient that you want to be consistent with using for its long-term effects. Using it as a core part of your skincare routine can help to diminish the appearance of enlarged pores, soothe pigmentation, and brighten your skin’s complexion. It also helps to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles for smother skin.


If you’re looking to achieve flawless skin, look no further than retinol. It’s most powerful when you use it alongside your everyday skincare products, including cleanser and moisturiser. Retinol is one ingredient that can – and will – transform your skin for the better.

The different types of retinol and what they do


When you start to shop around for retinol, you’ll notice that there is more than one kind. It’s important that you choose the right one for your skin type to achieve your desired results. There are three main types of retinol that you’ll find on the market with different potencies.


Retinoic acid is the strongest form or retinol and is only available with a prescription. You’ll usually find it in varying strengths from 0.025% and 0.1%. Retinoic acid is the strongest form or retinol and is only available with a prescription. You’ll usually find it in varying strengths from 0.025% and 0.1%. This form of retinol gives you the most dramatic results as our skin cells have retinoic acid receptors, which allows this form of retinol to get straight to work and start improving your skin.


Retinol – in its most widely used form – is weaker than retinoic acid but stronger than retinyl palmitate. What makes it different is that retinol is first converted by enzymes in your skin, turning it into retinoic acid, which makes the solution less potent. You’ll still get the same kind of results, but it will take longer to get the same effect with retinol compared to retinoic acid.


Retinyl palmitate is the weakest form of retinol as it has to go through more pathways in your skin to be converted into retinoic acid, meaning that it loses its potency as it goes through this process.


Everyone’s skin is different, and you may find that one of these forms works better than another for your skin. They’ll all give you similar results over time, with each having their pros and cons.


Retinoic acid will often give you faster results – due to its potency – but it comes with an increased risk of irritation, including skin purging, redness, and peeling. When you start using retinoic acid, you skin will often look worse before it gets better. It’s this process that leads most people to give up on retinoids before they start to see the benefits. If you want to start using retinoids as part of your routine, you have to be committed to being consistent with your use of the ingredients.

How to start using retinol so that you don’t give up at week three


Most people give up on using retinol by week three. The secret to being successful with your retinol is to use it slowly and take baby steps to help build up your skin’s resistance. Going off at the deep end and using too much can cause your skin to become irritated. If you use your retinol correctly, you can avoid having any kind of reaction at all. You should always start by using retinyl palmitate, the weakest form of retinol.


If you’re aiming to treat a more serious skin issue – such as deep wrinkles and pigmentation – you can look into getting retinoic acid on a prescription. Whatever type of retinol product you’re using, you want to make sure you start slowly. At the beginning, use your retinol one night a week before slowly bringing up your skin’s tolerance to the ingredient. You need to give your skin time to acclimatize to the ingredient. Using your retinol correctly at the early stage can reduce your risk of dryness or irritation that often leads to people dropping retinol from their routine early on.

Which retinol products to choose to add to your routine


With most skincare products, you want to focus on what is inside the formulation of the ingredient. The difference with retinol is that you have to look at how it’s packaged in. Just like vitamin C, retinol is an unstable ingredient that you want to be careful about how it’s packaged. The best retinol will come in airless pumps and have dark packaging to prevent it attracting light that could destabilise the formula.


You’ll often find retinol products that come in a glass bottle with a dropper. While these are not the most ideal product to use, they can be a suitable choice if you look after the bottle correctly. You want to make sure to always close the lid tightly after each use to prevent the oxygenation that can destabilize the formula of your retinol.


You also want to think about how you’re storing your retinol products. Retinol is similar to perfume is the sense that it should be stored somewhere cool and away from sunlight. You want to avoid storing it in your bathroom, especially near your shower or bath. It’s a good idea to store your retinol in a cold and dark place, like a vanity drawer or cupboard.

Layering retinol with other skincare products


One of the difficulties that people face when using retinol for the first time is trying to work out how to use it alongside other skincare products. The main concern that people have with retinol is the potential for irritation. If you find that your skin is having a reaction to the retinol, you can layer it with a moisturizer. You don’t have to use your retinol products alone and can instead pair them with other parts of your skincare routine.


You don’t have to use retinol as a long-term part of your skincare routine to see results. Most dermatologists will recommend using retinol products in ‘bursts’ to target specific concerns at one time. It usually takes five weeks to start seeing results from your retinol, making it an ideal timeframe for a ‘burst’ of treatment. After those five weeks, you can move onto another active ingredient before going back to retinol.


We’re finishing up our guide with four tips on how to use your retinol correctly.


1. Night-time use
You want to focus on using retinol as a night-time treatment and avoid using it alongside other active ingredients, including acids and vitamin C. One ingredient that you can use it with is hyaluronic acid for an extra boost of hydration.


2. Stay consistent
This tip is one that is worth repeating. You want to be consistent and keep using your retinol. Your skin may get worse before it gets better but it’s worth sticking to it to get the results that you want.


3. Sun protection
When you’re using retinol, it’s even more important to use sunscreen and SPF to protect your skin. Most people choose to use retinol as a way of treating sun damage on their skin, so the last thing you want is to further damage your skin. Using retinol can often make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage.


4. Year-round benefits
It’s a common misconception that retinol is an ingredient that you should only use from autumn to spring. Retinol won’t thin your skin’s surface, meaning that you can use it even in the height of summer. Research has shown that retinol can repair sun damage, promote collagen production, and inhibit the enzymes that break down your collagen.


What do you think of retinol? Do you use it as part of your skincare routine? Let us know in the comments below!

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