Retinol in Skincare | What You Need To Know


What is retinol in skincare

What is retinol in skincare and what does it do the skin? Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that is said to be a super ingredient for the skin as it could sort out most skin problems and create flawless-looking skin. Retinol has been proven a power ingredient that works wonders but at the same time risky and need extra precaution while using it. This post will explain to you the basic of retinol in skincare and what you should know about it. If you're a beginner, this post is for you. Keep on reading to know more...

What is Retinol

It's an over-the-counter (OTC) version of retinoids. Retinols are Vitamin A derivatives which are said to help boost collagen, plumps skin, cutting down fine lines and has a way to improves skin tone too. It's also said to help treat acne concerns as well.

However, using retinol could be risky. Retinol-based product may make the top layer of the skin dry and flaky. It's always advised to use Retinols with precautions and probably get professional help if needed.

Benefits Using Retinol

You may have heard retinol has great advantages but what are they actually?

  • Produces more collagen for the skin
  • Fight Acne
  • Help with reducing fine lines & wrinkles
  • Improve uneven skin texture
  • Prevent photoaging (spots, freckles, and other signs of sun damage)
  • Treat hyperpigmentation
  • Reduce large pores caused by acne, oily skin, or collagen loss

Types of Retinol / Retinoids

Same as other skincare ingredients, retinol also has different types but it's still categorised as retinoids. Always remember that retinol is not the same as prescription retinoids that are more potent.  However, OTC retinol are still considered the strongest OTC versions of retinoids available compared to other OTC retinoids 

However, retinoids actually have a bigger family. 

Understanding it overall could be a bit complicated but here's the summary:

Tretinoin < Retinoids < Retinol < Retinoid Esters

Tretinoin is the parent of all retinol and is the most potent one of all. 

So just keep that in mind if you're feeling confused.

Below are the types of retinoids often found in skincare products:

1. Retinol

It's the strongest version of OTC retinoids but still less potent than prescription retinoic acid. So it has fewer side effects hence may take several months up to a year to see visible results.

2. Retinoid Esters 

Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Linoleate

It's considered the weakest in the retinoid family, but a good option for beginners who are just starting with retinol or have sensitive skin types.

3. Adapalene / Differin

This type is said to be the best to treat acne. It works by slowing the process of excessive growth in the pores and reduces the chances of the skin to get inflammation.

4. Retinoic Acid 

Retin-A, Retinoin

works significantly faster than retinol since no conversion in the skin needs to take place

5. Isotretinoin / Accutane

This type is prescribed for severe forms of acne and requires close supervision by a doctor.

How to Use Retinol

Since retinol is advised to be used with precaution, how to actually use Retinol? For prescription retinol, best follow the steps advised by your doctor but for those who choose to use OTC retinol, there are a few rules you should take note of which are:

1. Beginners should start slow. 

Instead of using it every day, beginners with retinol should use it once or twice a week to build up tolerance to your skin.

2. It should be used every day to see visible effects

For those who are already familiar with retinol, best use it every day to see major effects.

3. Always wear moisturiser and sunscreen afterwards.

Retinol is said to be drying to the skin, hence moisturiser is very important to balance back hydration to the skin. If your skin is dry, it'll cause more problems for your skin rather than doing good.

Application of sunscreen is very very important as retinol is sensitive to sunlight and could degrade its effect. Even though you use retinol at night, application of sunscreen during the day is very important to protect your skin.

4. Best used for night routine. 

This rule isn't compulsory but many have said using it at night makes retinol more effective as during the night we tend to be motionless while sleeping which doesn't make us sweat or either often touching our faces.

5. Do not use it with AHA's or BHA's

This is a major DO NOT DO! AHA's and BHA's are active ingredients same as retinol. This will cause a major problem to the skin.

6. Avoid using Retinol when pregnant

It's advised pregnant ladies not to use retinol at all during pregnancy as retinol could harm the baby. Retinol has the ability to absorb into the skin and enter our bloodstream which may not cause much harm to adults but it should be to unborn babies.

Side Effect Using Retinol

If you are not careful, retinol could cause:

  • Redness
  • Peeling
  • Breakouts

However, it may be normal for the first few weeks as your skin may need time to adapt, but if the signs seem to get worse, stop using it and consult your dermatologist.

Other Details On Retinol

Can I use retinol every day?

Yes! In fact, dermatologists encourage their clients to use it every day but it also depends on your skin reaction towards retinol.

If it's used properly, retinol can seriously do wonders to the skin's complexion.

However, for newbies a pea-sized amount of retinol should be applied to the face once or twice a week, allowing skin time to adjust to its effects. 

Once the skin has built up tolerance towards retinol, it should be fine to use it every day.

When should I use retinol?

Suggested to be used during night routine as sunlight is said to degrade and minimize the effects of retinol.

In addition, during sleeping, we tend to touch or skin lesser which will help this power ingredient do its work uninterrupted.

What will retinol do to the skin?

It may be a long shot because results are said to only be seen after 6 months of using retinol but once you see retinol is working on your skin you'll notice your skin looking smoother and less clogged pores. Of course, you'll get fewer breakouts too

The longer you use retinol, you may also see fine lines and wrinkles decreasing too but that will definitely take time, so the key to use retinol is patience.

What not to mix with retinol?

1. AHA's BHA's any kind of exfoliators

2. Vitamin C

3. Benzoyl peroxide

4. Astringents / Drying Agents

Does retinol oxidise easily?

Yes! Almost similar to Vitamin C, retinol which is a Vitamin A derivative could tend to lose its potency once it's oxidised. So precautions as making sure the product is air-tight, away from sunlight and to be used within less than 6 months to make sure you'll get the full benefits of using retinol.

Do not use retinol once it's colour has changed yellowish which shows that it has already oxidised and time to be tossed away.

That's it for now. I'll update this post from time to time to add up more information on retinol. For now, I think this should be enough for beginners because I'm new to retinol too!


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