Retinol has pride of place on most dermatologist’s shelves. Mention the skin crimes – collagen breakdown, acne, dullness and enlarged pores – and a retinol solution will likely come your way.
Because retinol is a powerhouse when it comes to skincare. Next to sunscreen, it’s the most recommended skincare solution to blitz any skin ageing culprits.
What Is Retinol?
Retinol belongs to an ingredient family called retinoids. Retinoids are all derivatives of vitamin A and are used in the treatment of skin ageing, skin smoothing and acne. Retinoids come in different strengths ranging from prescription-grade dermatology to over-the-counter skincare easily tolerated by most skin types. There’s no ingredient like retinol for smoothing out lines and wrinkles, stimulating collagen production and speeding up skin cell turnover.
What Does Retinol Do For Your Skin?
- Stimulates collagen production. Collagen is what gives skin its plump, dewy appearance. When we are young, we produce collagen in spades. But with age and the constant onslaught of environmental stressors, collagen production slows down and the bouncy structure it makes to support the skin weakens. By speeding up the production cycle, retinol serums help to lock in vital moisture that improves skin’s structure and elasticity.
- Speeds up cell renewal. Up until our early 30’s, skin cells typically turnover every 28 days. This means a fresh, glossy layer of skin appears approximately every month. When we hit our mid 30’s however, this slows down to every 50, 60 or even 70 days. When that happens, skin appears dry, lacklustre and fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear. Retinol jumps in to tell your skin cells to make fresher, smoother, younger looking skin, effectively tricking the body into believing it’s younger than it is. Hello brighter, smoother, more luminous skin.
- Treats acne. Retinol skincare regulates oily skin by preventing sebum production from going into overdrive. It also exfoliates dirt and dead skin cells to help keep pores from clogging, and reduces the appearance of pores and acne scarring over time. Fewer blemishes = clearer skin.
- Fades pigmentation and evens skin tone. By stimulating cell turnover, retinol products push new, healthier skin cells to the skin’s surface. This helps fade dark spots, scars and redness by replacing damaged cells with new ones.
How To Use Retinol?
Starting with retinol in your 20’s can help you get ahead of skin conditions such as acne, premature skin ageing and dullness. Before starting to use any retinoid, it’s best to get advice from a dermatologist, taking into account your specific skin needs. When you do introduce any retinoid into your skincare routine, make sure you take it slowly, to help build up your skin’s tolerance to this active ingredient. The stronger the retinoid used, the more likely skin irritation is to occur – redness, dryness and flaking can often be side effects.
Though retinol falls in the middle of the retinoid spectrum, and is usually tolerated well by most skin types, here’s a few tips for introducing retinoids into your skincare routine:
- Choose the right strength. Consider starting with the most gentle, retinyl palmitate, and work your way up the retinoid ladder.
- Don’t use too much at once. Apply a pea-sized amount of serum or moisturiser to clean, dry skin at night 1 x week for one week; 2 x week for 2 weeks; 3 x week for 3 weeks, building up to every other night.
- Don’t layer your acne-fighting acids and peels with retinol. Use retinol on the nights where you aren’t using these products to avoid increasing sensitivity and irritating your skin.
- Always wear sunscreen such as Soleil Toujours Extreme UV 100% Mineral Face SPF 45. This vegan formulation provides superior mineral UV protection, plus moisturising and anti-ageing benefits. Retinoids can make skin extra sensitive to the sun, so load up on broad spectrum SPF every morning without fail– even when the sun isn’t shining.
Retinol certainly gets the gold star when it comes skin smoothing and skin plumping. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve rounded up a few of the best retinol serums and creams to help you on your way:
- Dr Levy R3 Cell Matrix Mask. This wrinkle-erasing mask is supercharged with vitamins retinol and antioxidants to reinforce the natural defences of our skin to restore firmness and glow.
- Royal Fern Phytoactive Anti-Ageing Rich Cream. This deeply intensive hydrating cream is infused with high-quality hyaluronic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, regenerating the skin, even deep below the surface.
- Dr Levy Eye Booster Concentrate. Tatler labelled this must-have, "quite possibly the best thing since botox". Enriched with hyaluronic acid, retinol, peptides and a multitude of vitamins, this eye serum is clinically proven to combat crows feet, diminish puffiness and eliminate fine lines.
- Allies Of Skin 1A Retinol & Peptides Overnight Mask. This ultimate night-time moisturiser is supercharged with retinaldehyde to combat blemishes, smooth wrinkles.