- Retinol is an ingredient derived from vitamin A, an essential nutrient aiding in skin maintenance.
- Retinol is effective as an anti-aging ingredient, increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production.
- Retinol should be gradually introduced to your skin care routine to avoid unwanted side effects.
Fine lines and wrinkles are caused by several factors throughout your life, including sun exposure, lifestyle factors and the natural aging process. Derived from vitamin A, retinol is an effective anti-aging skin care ingredient that increases cell turnover and improves the skin’s elasticity and tightness.
Anti-Aging Benefits of Retinol
Retinol is one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients available, due to the various benefits it offers for your skin.
As we age, we begin to produce less collagen – a protein that helps give your skin its youthful and plump appearance. Retinol is effective at stimulating the collagen production in our skin, plumping and smoothing its appearance.
Retinol tightens the skin by slowing the breakdown of collagen. In addition to maintaining fullness. collagen also helps to retain the skin’s elasticity and firmness. This also makes it an effective preventative measure against the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Evens out skin tone
Retinol evens out your skin tone by increasing cell turnover, a process that replaces old skin cells with healthier, fresh cells. The shedding of dead skin cells helps to fade away patches of darker skin on your face, resulting in a more even skin tone.
Does it Actually Work?
Retinol has been scientifically proven to enhance collagen production, providing positive benefits on skin aging both internally and externally. Similarly, research into the use of retinol has found that it effectively increases skin thickness, leading to a plumper and healthier appearance.
Research has found that even relatively low retinol concentrations are effective; a study using a 0.04% retinol formulation discovered a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles over 24 weeks.
Myth vs reality
A common myth surrounding retinol is that it acts as an exfoliant. Contrary to this myth, the skin smoothing effects of retinol are not caused by exfoliation, but as a result of enhanced collagen production and increased cell turnover.
Retinol Anti-Aging Products
Retinol belongs to a group of ingredients known as retinoids, which are all derived from vitamin A. Retinol has a lower and more tolerable potency compared to other forms of retinoids, such as tretinoin; making it a popular ingredient in various creams and serums.
Retinol anti-aging cleansers
Use a retinol cleanser as the first step in your routine to clear away dirt and oil, leaving your skin clean and refreshed. Retinol cleansers typically contain a low concentration of retinol so that they can be used as part of your daily routine.
Retinol anti-aging serums
Anti-aging serums often contain high concentrations of retinol, ranging from 2-5%. Serums are most effective when used after cleansing and before moisturizing. Moisturizers create a protective barrier on your skin, which can prevent serums from being absorbed, if applied in the wrong order.
Retinol anti-aging creams
Retinol anti-aging creams also contain high retinol concentrations. They are typically formulated with hydrating and soothing ingredients, such as vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients help to counteract the potential side effects of retinol, such as dryness or erythema. Retinol creams are most effective when applied in the evening, as the last step of your routine.
Other retinol anti-aging products
Retinol is also found in face masks and oils, often applied as an extra step in your routine. If you are already using retinol-based products in your standard daily routine, limit the use of retinol masks and oils to prevent irritation occurring.
Retinol Anti-Aging Skincare Routine
Retinol creams are best used as part of your evening routine, as they may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. To avoid irritation, it is best to use retinol creams every other day for a few weeks, before gradually working up to daily applications.
After cleansing, apply a small pea-sized amount of product to your skin. Avoid contact with the lips and delicate eye area to prevent irritation. Follow up with a hydrating serum or moisturizer to prevent dryness.
Over-the-counter (OTC) retinol creams contain milder concentrations than those found in professional skin care treatments. It can take up to 12 weeks of regular use before any noticeable effects are observed from anti-aging retinol creams.
Don’t forget your sunscreen
Retinol causes your skin to become more susceptible to sun damage, a major cause of wrinkles. It is important to regularly apply sunscreen as part of your daily routine when using retinol-based products, with a minimum SPF of 30 to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Can you use retinol forever?
The beneficial effects of retinol have been found to plateau, often after around 12 months of regular use. If you feel like you are no longer benefiting from your current routine, try moving onto a stronger concentration of retinol. Alternatively, try introducing a stronger retinoid into your routine, such as tretinoin.
Retinol Safety & Side Effects
Due to its potency, retinol may cause irritation and peeling as your skin cells adjust to the powerful ingredient. This is especially common when high concentrations of retinol are used. To avoid peeling occurring, start by introducing a low concentration retinol into your routine – ideally between 0.01% to 0.05%.
Allow your skin to build a tolerance by using a low concentration for at least 12 weeks before moving onto a stronger product.
When using retinol in your daily routine, it is best to avoid using products that may potentially exacerbate unwanted side effects. Strong exfoliants, such as glycolic and salicylic acid may cause irritation and dryness if used in combination with retinol. Similarly, alcohol-based products may dry out your skin, causing discomfort and peeling.
By exfoliating the skin, reducing hyperpigmentation and stimulating collagen production, retinol helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These benefits have made retinol a popular ingredient in many anti-aging products.
Take care when introducing retinol to your routine, as high concentrations may cause dryness and peeling. Begin with a low-strength retinol before moving onto stronger formulations.