Are you struggling to achieve a youthful, glowing, and supple complexion? Well, many are intrigued by the idea of gorgeous-looking skin. However, achieving and maintaining the skin you desire doesn't come without a bit of effort. First, you need to stick to a consistent skincare regimen and use skincare products containing the right ingredient which work the best for your individual skin.
When it comes to skincare ingredients, retinol is one of the most popular compounds used in various skincare formulas. With this article, we hope to acquaint you with this great skincare ingredient and explain how it can help treat and manage different skin issues. So, let's get down to it!
What is Retinol?
First thing first, let's start with understanding what retinol really is. Retinol, scientifically referred to as vitamin A1, is a type of fat-soluble group of vitamins belonging to the vitamin A family. It is commonly found in various foods and is also used in the form of dietary supplements. In the skincare industry, retinol is used in topical skincare products formulated from vitamin A derivatives. It's a type of retinoid which includes OTC products and prescription retinoid medications. Retinol is commonly used as a topical skin treatment to minimize and treat numerous skin problems.
How Does Retinol Work?
The tiny molecules of retinol work by entering the epidermal layer of the skin and slightly absorbing into the deeper, dermal layer of the skin. Retinol converts into retinoic acid in the body after penetrating the skin, accelerating the regeneration and growth of skin cells, elastin, and collagen. It has gained popularity due to its natural ability to support healthier skin. The restoring and collagen-boosting effects of retinol can help treat acne breakouts, wrinkles, clogged pores, discoloration, free radical damage, sunspots, and enlarged pores.¹ Regular use can help enhance the overall tone and texture of the skin over time.
Benefits of Retinol for the Skin
The following are some reasons why many choose to incorporate skincare products with retinol into their skincare routine:
- Helps to Clear Acne - We know that the leading cause behind the formation of acne and blemishes is the accumulation of dead skin, grime, oil, and other impurities in the pores, which congest the hair follicles and trigger acne breakouts. In addition, when bacteria invades blocked pores, it can make your skin condition worse and lead to inflammatory acne. Retinol skincare products can help prevent the issue by speeding up cell turnover helping to clear the pores.
- Calms Inflammation - Other than treating acne and preventing future acne breakouts, retinol can also help to soothe redness, irritation, and swelling caused by acne. Retinol does the job by blocking molecules that cause inflammation in the skin. The anti-inflammatory action of retinol can reduce inflammation due to other skin conditions, like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as by blocking inflammation pathways.²
- Treats the Signs of Aging - Initially marketed as an effective anti-acne treatment, retinol is now well-known for its anti-aging effects as well. Besides acne, pesky signs of aging are the most common skin issue for which retinol is widely used. Countless skincare products formulated to combat wrinkles, and fine lines contain retinol. It can stimulate cell turnover rate to promote a plumper and smoother complexion. Moreover, the collagen and elastin-protecting powers of retinol also aid in reducing and preventing signs of aging.
- Unclogs the Pores - Various external agents and the natural oils secreted by the sebaceous glands build up in the hair follicles daily. When hair follicles become filled with these elements, they can lead to comedones or blackheads and whiteheads.³ The best solution to prevent and treat their appearance is to keep the hair follicles free of impurities that can clog them. Retinol can help you achieve that goal due to its exfoliating effect.
- Improves Skin Tone and Texture - If you are looking for skincare ingredients to enhance the texture of your skin and brighten the uneven and weary complexion, give retinol a try. Since retinol accelerates the synthesis of collagen, it makes the skin appear and feel smoother, softer, and firmer. In addition, the natural peeling action reveals fresher skin underneath. This action also helps to reduce skin discoloration and revives dull skin, making the skin look brighter and more even-toned.
- Fights Oxidative Stress - Retinol helps improve the thickness of the skin's outer layer, epidermis, which assists in guarding the skin cells from oxidative damage due to UV rays, free radicals, bacteria, toxic chemicals, and other pollutants. A stronger skin barrier prevents cell damage that can lead to hyperpigmentation and the appearance of premature wrinkles and fine lines. It also inhibits the loss of moisture and retains moisture in the cells. Furthermore, it reduces the chances of acne and inflammation due to bacteria and other aggravating elements.
When to Use Retinol?
Just because retinol is known in the skincare world for its effectiveness in reducing the number of skin concerns doesn't mean that you absolutely need to add it to your skincare routine. Retinol isn't for everyone despite all its skin benefits and shouldn't be used without considering your particular skin type and needs. Some people may not tolerate it, and their skin may not respond well to it, while some may not want to commit to a complicated skincare routine by adding this potent skincare compound. If you're motivated enough to make some changes to your skincare regimen, start by doing a patch test and then add a low concentration retinol product to your skincare routine. Notice how your skin reacts to it before you move to a product with a higher concentration of retinol. It's highly crucial to keep your skin moisturized and sun protected while you're using retinol. Also, it's recommended to use it before bed to avoid any reaction due to external factors during the day.
Side Effects of Retinol
Although retinol is known for its wide array of skin benefits, using it comes with some potential side effects if you use it without proper caution. It's a potent ingredient that comes in different concentrations or strengths. It's advised to start using a low concentration of retinol to avoid the side effects that are considered normal after its use, which include:
- Irritation and redness
- Flaking or peeling
- Sensitivity to sunlight
These side effects are common in almost everyone, so don't be alarmed. Give your skin some time to get used to retinol and develop tolerance to it. Moreover, you can use retinol skincare products on alternate days to reduce or avoid any adverse effects. Finally, increase the concentration and frequency gradually. These issues resolve on their own as your skin gets accustomed to retinol.
How to Use Retinol?
If you decide to incorporate a skincare product with retinol into your skincare routine, it's recommended to keep the following in mind:
- Start slow and add a concentration of 0.5% of retinol to your skincare routine.
- After cleansing, your skin must be completely dry before applying a retinol skincare product.
- To let your skin develop tolerance to retinol, apply a pea-sized amount two times a week before you start using it more frequently.
- Avoid using it in the morning to prevent irritation and sun damage. Instead, it's recommended to be applied at night.
- Once your skin seems to get accustomed to retinol, you should usually consider using it every other night after one or two weeks.
- Don't forget to keep your skin amply moisturized while using retinol skincare products. Not to mention, slather a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning and keep reapplying it during the day.
Retinol is one of the most raved about skincare compounds used to treat different skin-related problems. You can opt from various skincare products containing retinol in its active form to reduce skin issues, like hyperpigmentation, acne, wrinkles, inflammation, and fine lines. Finally, we hope this article has helped you understand why so many people use retinol as their go-to skincare ingredient to help repair, protect, and restore skin.
- Burgess, Lana. (2020). ''What are the best ways to get rid of large pores'', MedicalNewsToday. Accessed March 1, 2022. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320775
- Mayo Clinic. (2022). ''Atopoc dermatitis (eczema)'', Mayoclinc.org. Accessed March 2, 2022. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273
- WebMD. ''How to Remove a Comedo'', WebMD.com. Accessed March 2, 2022. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/how-to-remove-a-comedo