Everything You Need To Know About Retinol

From high-end skincare to drugstore dupes, this hyped-up ingredient seems to be popping up everywhere, and it is for a reason. As we age, skin becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic as the natural rejuvenation process slows. According to a study researchers found, “Skin aging is influenced by several factors including genetics, environmental exposure (UV radiation, xenobiotics, and mechanical stress), hormonal changes and metabolic processes (generation of reactive chemical compounds such as activated oxygen species, sugars, and aldehydes). All factors together act on the alterations of skin structure, function, and appearance, [1]”. Additionally, solar UV radiation is the single major factor responsible for skin aging. Is the skincare buzzword, retinol, worth all the hype online? We did all the digging, so you don’t have to. 


What is retinol?

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that is effective in slowing down the aging process. This helps regulate cell turnover and minimizes any fine lines or wrinkles [2]. In a study, researchers found retinol formulation resulted in “significant improvement in wrinkles after 12 weeks of treatment,” [1]. Looking to minimize wrinkles and slow down the appearance of aging? Retinol might be for you. 

What types of retinoids are there? 

There are 5 types of retinoids [3]:

  1. Retinyl palmitate: This is a great option for dry or sensitive skin as it has a lower potency. 

  2. Retinaldehyde: This has a high potency. 

  3. Retinol: This is the standard retinoid in most products.

  4. Tretinoin, Tazarotene, and Adapalene: These are prescription-strength retinoids, only available over the counter. 

There have been long-term studies on tretinoin showing skin aging and conditions continuing to improve over continued use [1]. Although retinol is 20 times less potent than tretinoin, both are great options depending on your skin type and needs. Retinoids have anti-wrinkle properties that greatly promote the strengthening of the epidermis, water loss prevention (great for dry skin), collagen loss prevention, and the reduction of fine lines [2]. 



How do you use it?

Apply a pea-sized amount every other night of the week. Use it after your cleanser and toner but before you apply moisturizer, making retinol the second to the last step in your nighttime routine. You can graduate to applying nightly, after two weeks of using it every other night. You want to reduce the risk of irritation as much as possible. 

  • Make sure to only apply it at night and use SPF the next day to protect your skin from UV exposure

  • Do not mix any retinoid with a BHA or AHA, vitamin C, or benzoyl peroxide as it can cause irritation.

  • If a reaction occurs, stop using the product or reduce the frequency of application. Switching to a less potent retinoid might be a better option. 

For further information, we recommend consulting your dermatologist for more help finding the right retinoid for you. 

[1] Mukherjee, Siddharth, et al. “Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging: An Overview of Clinical Efficacy and Safety.” Clinical Interventions in Aging, Dove Medical Press, 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/. 
[2] Zasada, Malwina, and Elżbieta Budzisz. “Retinoids: Active Molecules Influencing Skin Structure Formation in Cosmetic and Dermatological Treatments.” Postepy Dermatologii i Alergologii, Termedia Publishing House, Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6791161/. 
[3] Cherney, Kristeen. “Retinoids for Wrinkles: Uses, How to Pick the Right One, and Risks.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 9 Feb. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/retinoids-for-wrinkles#choosing-the-right-retinoid. 



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