Does Retinol Really Help Remove Wrinkles? Find out more about this ‘Magic’ Anti Aging Ingredient…
Believe the hype: retinol works anti-aging skin care magic…
You’ve definitely heard about retinol, and the hype around it. This handy skin care ingredient shows up everywhere; from inside serums to acne creams, to over-the-counter wrinkle reducers.
There are plenty of myths around retinols, or is it retinoids? We’re here to debunk these myths and enlighten you to the magic of retinol. We’ve sorted out the crazy claims, important information, how they work, and best practices of using retinoids with the help of top dermatologists.
But first, what is retinol? We’ll tackle this super-star skin saving ingredient below.
Retinol is Another Name for Vitamin A
Rather, it’s a derivative of vitamin A but in a pure form. This vitamin is known for it’s affect on skin because it can help a youthful glow resurface and it can impact the texture of your skin in a positive way. It’s also an antioxidant, meaning it can help your skin cells fight damage. Any kind of damage, really, but not limited to free radical damage, sun damage, and damage caused simply from the aging process.
Basically, retinol fights cellular damage, pigmentation, acne, and the occurrence or appearance of wrinkles.
So, what’s the difference between retinol and a retinoid?
Retinol is a type of retinoid. And what, exactly, is a retinoid? It’s a chemical compound family, related to vitamin A. Other retinoids include: rtinyl palmitate, and retinaldehyde. These are all ingredients that can be found in skin care products, with emphasis on anti-aging skincare products and skin clearing products (think acne).
These vitamin A derivatives help to unclog pores and improve complexion, boost collagen in your skin to reduce fine lines, encourage quicker cell turnover to help even out skin tone and color. You might even see results in as little as four to six weeks after use of a retinoid product.
The first retinoid product to hit the market came out around 40 years ago. Known as “Retin-A”, this initial product contained tretinoin (a retinoid). Approved by the FDA, Retin-A became a well-known acne prescription medication. Dermatologists caught on to the magic of retinoids quickly after, noting patients using Retin-A not only had clearer skin, but it was brighter with diminished visibility of fine lines. Pretty incredible, right?
Retinols are found in over the counter creams with mild concentrations, however in prescription-based treatments the concentration is far higher. Let’s look at the prescription-strength retinoids on the market now.
Prescription Retinoids on the Market Today
A cream that contains retinoids, retinol, or retinoic acid must be used under the provision of a dermatologist or doctor.
Prescription strength retinoids are obviously still on the market, but they’ve had multiple improvements. The three prescription-strength retinoid active ingredients available are:
- Tretinoin (known as: Atralin, Avita, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Renova)
- Tazarotene (known as: Avage, Tazorac)
- Adapalene (known as: Differin)
What Does Retinol Do?
When retinol and retinoids come into contact with your skin, enzymes within your body work to convert the retinol into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the active form of the vitamin retinol comes from. See? It all works together. Once applied, retinol helps normalize your skin from lots of different skin conditions. It can even work with other ingredients for superior efficiency.
Basically, retinoic acid is the skeleton key to unlocking a variety of helpful processes within your skin. From increasing cell turnover to boosting collagen production to fading pigmentation and wrinkles, retinoic acid works its magic. After retinol or retinoid treatment, you’ll find your skin looking and feeling healthier, firmer, and brighter.
How Does Retinol Work?
“Unfortunately as you age, the skin cells stop maturing and they tend to pile up,” says Doris Day, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “It works on a molecular level to normalize cell turnover. Which is to say, retinol and retinoids encourage your skin to renew itself more often.
The boost in cell turnover is what makes retinol special. Because of this property, retinol can treat eczema, sun-induced wrinkles, aging, and even deep, cystic acne.
Right, so retinol increases cell turnover, working to slather off the top layer of skin made up mostly of damaged cells and dead tissue. The top layer of our skin is where damage manifests. So think wrinkles, sun spots, inflammation, acne, dullness, pigmentation, and more. Once it’s gone, the top layer that is, your skin looks visibly younger, brighter, fresher, and as if you have a new canvas!
Dermatologists agree retinol increases the production of structural components in your skin that help make the skin up, cell by cell. Thanks to a study done at the University of Michigan Medical School, we know the application of over-the-counter retinoid creams truly do help create a fresh canvas of your face.
How to Use Products With Retinol in Them
To begin, dermatologists typically suggest using a pea-sized amount once a week in kind with their moisturizer. Starting small is the best way to allow your skin to adapt to the use of the ingredient, therefore reducing your chances of irritation, dryness, or other associated issues with retinol. Slowly increase how often you’re using the product, but don’t increase how much of it you’re using. A pea-sized amount will do the trick as your skin adapts to it, and based on your skins response you can begin to increase later on as needed. If you notice extra redness the day following application, you can and probably should skip the evening’s application, suggests NYC dermatologists.
Try this: begin applying a retinol serum to your entire face, and don’t forget your neck. Wait a few minutes (2-3) before applying your moisturizer if your skin is easily dried out. You can use your retinol serum to alternate with other products, too. Try the retinol serum for one night, then alternate with an exfoliating serum or a nourishing nutrient-rich serum.
One thing that’s important to remember in regard to retinol is that it’s not photo or sunlight stable. Which is to say, the sun is horrible for it – so keep this cream or serum in a well-sealed container and use at night.
Let’s look at a sample skin care routine using retinoid products!
- Sunday: use your retinol or retinoid serum of choice
- Monday: Exfoliating serum or treatment (look for one including glycolic or salycilic acid)
- Tuesday: Retinoid treatment
- Wednesday: Retinoid treatment
- Thursday: Hydrating Serum
- Friday: Retinoid Treatment
- Saturday: Give your skin an evening off
This routine helps your skin regenerate cells, reduce flakiness from cell regeneration, and the hydrating serum or treatment helps to reduce irritation in your skin. When your skin is cared for with high quality and high performance ingredients, it will look and feel its best. That’s why alternating treatments and products works better; variety helps your skin perform at its top level.
Knowing Your Retinol Limit Helps Prevent Harm to Your Skin
When used properly, retinol and retinoids can renew your skin into the best complexion of your life. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind with retinoid use. Use caution in these scenarios.
If you’ve recently exfoliated or cleansed your skin, wait 10 or more minutes before applying retinol of any kind. Francesca Fusco, M.D., a medical and cosmetic dermatologist in New York, emphasizes that washing your face alone can be a little irritating, so the period of wait time will help diffuse further irritation.
Due to the “normalization” of your top layer of skin while using retinol, your skin is likely to be irritated further by the sun. Sun exposure should be limited if you find your skin burning, peeling, or showing signs of sensitivity. If you have fair skin or if your skin type burns easily, stick to using your retinol treatment or cream at night time.
Sometimes, you might need to give your skin a breather.
Take a Break From Retinol If…
You find your skin is getting angry, dry, flaky, or irritated. Sometimes these conditions are normal when you’re beginning a treatment including retinol or retinoids. However, the irritation can resolve after a break and then you can begin to use the cream again, slowly. Dermatologists suggest taking a break from retinol and applying an over-the-counter cortisone cream for several days. Then, you can begin using the retinol treatment or cream every three days to build back up.
If you’re planning on getting a facial wax of any kind (think eyebrow or lip), dermatologists suggest taking a break from a retinol cream or product. Retinol weakens and breaks down the top layer of yours kin, so a wax on top of that treatment could really harm your facial skin.
Using other topical medication with retinol can be a mistake, too. This instance also requires caution, and in most cases disuse of the retinol. Why? “The most important thing is not to combine it with most acne meds that have a salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or alpha hydroxy acid in it,”explains high profile NYC dermatologists. “The combo can diminish the results you’re looking for (clear, glowing skin) and cause more irritation, redness, and even burning.” Sometimes, retinol is included in acne medications, but mixing separate medications can cause strong irritation in your skin.
Another important thing to remember is that retinol isn’t necessarily a good idea to use on your skin if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Skip the treatments for those few months!
The conclusion? This powerhouse of an ingredient is an anti-aging, skin-clearing magic. In two to four weeks or six to twelve weeks with either prescription formulas or over-the-counter choices respectively, retinol and retinoids can smooth, even, and clear up your skin. In the words of Dr. Day, “There’s pretty much a retinol out there for everyone.”
There Are Lots of Retinol Options On the Market
Even though there is a huge variety of retinol options on the market, they do work the same. There’s an option for everyone, too. Finding the perfect product for you doesn’t have to be difficult, so we”ll break down the retinoid options for you.
Generally, choosing the right retinoid product comes down to how your skin handles retinol. As for prescription formulas, Tazorac (tazarotene) is the strongest retinoid. Coming in second and third respectively are Retin-A, and Differin. While these are prescription formulas (prescription because they contain pure retinoic acid), there are formulas of retinol you can get without heading to the dermatologist. These are typically the anti-aging variety.
Dermatologists suggest finding a formula that states whether it’s best for oily, sensitive, or normal skin. You’ll get the best results for your skin type, that way regardless of your endgame (curing your skin issues, of course).
Try one of our favorite anti-aging retinoid products:
- Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Cream
- Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum
- RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream
Have you tried using retinoid products on your skin? Let us know about your results!