Anti aging, Skin care

Ingredient Spotlight – Retinol

Retinol improves skin condition in two ways; cell production and Collagen production. Increasing skin cell production in the top layer of skin affects the rate at which old skin cells are replaced by new ones and this has a big effect on skin texture and tone but this is not the main benefit. Retinol’s trump card is the way it affects Collagen. It not only increases the production of new Collagen, plumping skin and reduces fine lines and wrinkles; it also protects Collagen damage from UV exposure by reducing the production of Collagenase, an enzyme that breaks down Collagen.

Retinol has been around for a long time, and to some is synonymous with irritation and red skin, but science has moved on in the last few years and Retinol is back in a big way.


The common mistake many people make with Retinol is applying too much too often in the first few days of use, causing irritation and then they think Retinol doesn’t suit them. All the Retinol based products I recommend contain good quality supporting ingredients that moisturize and provide nutrients to prevent the irritations associated with Retinol use.

Retinol can and often does cause irritation but this can be avoided by introducing it to your beauty regimen gradually. Start using just a small amount of Retinol product every other night and ensure the product you’re using has sufficient additional moisturising ingredients or apply your own afterwards. As long as no irritation occurs, continue this regimen for two weeks before increasing to applying it every night.

If at any time you do feel any irritation then just reduce your use for a couple of days. After a few weeks your skin will become accustomed to the Retinol.

In non-prescription strengths, Retinoids take time to work. You won’t see visible results for at least two months but more likely it will be more than three months before anything changes. Remember anti-aging products are to be used over years not weeks!

Contrary to popular opinion, Retinol does not make your skin sensitive to sunlight, no really!

Who’s it For?

Retinol is suitable for everyone, it’s collaging boosting properties will benefit all skin types and it is particularly good at bringing new life to mature skin.

Everyone should start gently with Retinol. Play the long game and don’t get impatient! Start with half the recommended usage and build up, if you notice any sensitivity just reduce your usage or take a break for a few days, don’t panic!

Retinol should be used at night as its effectiveness can be reduced by exposure to sunlight.

Recommended Products

Skinceuticals Refining Night Cream With 0.5% Pure Retinol

This is my top recommended Retinol based product. It delivers 0.5% Retinol which is a perfect amount to balance effectiveness without causing irritation and it has a perfect blend of supporting ingredients to nurture new skin cells.

La Roche Posay – Redermic R

This is a very similar product to the Skinceuticals Refining Night Cream, but has a little less Retinol at 0.3% it is perfect for anyone with more sensitive skin.

ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler

This is my budget Retinol product choice. ROC is Retinol pioneers and the addition of Hyaluronic Acid and a mineral complex to further hydrate your skin.

The Science

Retinol is a type of Vitamin A from the Retinoid family. It is the only non-prescription anti-aging ingredient to be almost unanimously recommended by dermatologists and beauty experts, mainly because Retinoids are the only ingredient completely proven to improve sun and aged damaged skin at a molecular level.

There is a difference between types of Retinoids seen in anti-aging products:

Retinoic Acid – Found in prescription strength products and is the number one recommended anti-aging ingredient by dermatologists.

Retinol  – The only non-prescription Retinoid worth using, this is converted into Retinoic Acid by the skin and has exactly the same proven anti-aging effects, it just takes longer to work than Retinoic Acid.

Pro-Retinols – These are much weaker than Retinol and are really not worth using. They are usually listed in the ingredients as Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate or Retinyl Linoleate.

Retinoic Acid has long been used as an acne treatment in the form of treatments such as Retin-A, and it was through clinical trials and patient feedback that its anti-aging effects were noticed. However the effects of pure Retinoic Acid on the skin are too strong for use as a long term anti-aging product and so scientists began to look at Retinol, which has the big benefit of being able to be turned into Retinoic Acid by your skin cells, as and when they need it. This negates many of the problems of pure Retinoic Acid – redness, peeling & sensitivity.

And in the last few years there have been breakthroughs in the ability to bottle Retinol alongside other active ingredients, allowing supporting moisturizers and vitamins to further reduce the sensitivity associated with Retinol and provide newly formed skin cells with much need nutrients.

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