​Retinol Benefits – Where to start (What is retinol and how do I use it?)

​Retinol Benefits – Where to start (What is retinol and how do I use it?)

Known as the all in one skincare item on the market, backed up by research that proves it’s impact and not too expensive to add to your routine, so why haven’t you used retinol yet? I hear you asking.

Well, as with all great things in life it isn’t as simple as buying a bottle and lathering it on your face (I wish), retinol takes a little more thought and effort to incorporate into your routine. This can scare people off as it seems complicated, but fear not, In this blog I’m going to help you have a better understanding of the all-important retinol and how you can introduce it to your skin.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A for the skin. It is an over-the-counter form of retinoid, which is weaker than that which can be prescribed by a doctor and works on the skin gradually. Retinol has a huge range of benefits such as promoting skin cell renewal, enhanced collagen production, reducing acne and hyperpigmentation and decreasing the appearance of fine lines and pores for anti-aging. It is often used in eye creams due to its anti-aging properties such as The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream and the Dr. Brandt Bright This Way 24/7 Retinol Eye Cream. Retinol rejuvenates the eye area, reducing the effects of aging and preventing future lines or wrinkles. You want to be gentle with your eye area as the skin is very delicate here, which is why it is one of the main giveaway areas of aging, retinol eye creams will give your eyes the youthful look you want to maintain.

There is lots of research to say that Vitamin A is the only proven ingredient to actually increase collagen and give you these results and we trust the science! All retinol products are recommended to be used as part of a night routine, as they are less effective in the sun and increase the risk of sun damage during the day.

That all sounds fantastic, so where’s the catch?

The ‘catch’ is that retinol is a very active and strong ingredient and using too much too quickly can have negative impacts on the skin such as drying, irritation, increased sensitivity and making skin further exposed to sunlight.

To avoid the negative effects, you must build up a tolerance to retinol. Beginning in your early 20’s it is recommended to start on a low concentration of retinol, once every 2 weeks and build it up from there.

Where do I start?

There are many different forms of retinol available, such as retinol creams and retinol serums of various concentrations, so it is important to figure out which one is best for you. Start with a low concentration and work your way up, but remember it’s not a race, you’ll (hopefully) be using it for life, so there’s plenty of time to work up to the higher concentrations. Brands such as The Ordinary and Dermalogica offer products that are buildable as you progress on your retinol journey. It is all about finding the starting balance for you and building up slowly from there.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane is a great beginners product for new users. The retinol serum is paired with the plant-derived emollient Squalane, that offers lightweight hydration counteracting the drying properties of the retinol to sooth your skin as it gets used to the product. Your lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and more will be targeted by the retinol as it begins to work. If you find this formula too strong for your skin (it is causing irritation) it can be further diluted to reduce its strength by adding it into your moisturiser/ other oils. It takes some getting used to and you may see drying or redness in your skin while beginning to use the product. As long as it isn’t severely irritated, try to bear with it for at least 1-3 months to see some results, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better but the persistence is worth it! But dilute when needed, put your skin first.

Apply retinol serums before oils, moisturisers and creams at night and avoid other products containing retinoids or other targeted treatment products while using retinol products. Remember to always wear SPF while using your retinol in your skincare routine as your skin will be more sensitive to UV radiation.

It usually takes 6 to 12 weeks for your skin to fully adjust to a retinol, once you’ve built up a tolerance to the 0.2%, you may want to up your concentration. Moving on to a 0.5% is the next step you can take. There are products that make this transition easier on you due to their ease of dilution The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane and the Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair are both buildable retinol products that you can move on to. Moving up too soon or at a higher concentration without dilution can cause skin irritation and dryness so it is important to find formula’s that are buildable. If you prefer a retinol serum formula The Ordinary retinol may be for you, if it is a retinol cream formula you want to progress with, you can go with the Dermalogica. The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% serum can once again be diluted with your own oils or creams where needed, to begin the adjustment process for the skin. It will continue to target your problem areas and work on your youthful complexion with the soothing squalene calming the skin during the process. While the Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair comes with a moisturising buffer cream to dilute the concentration to suit your skin, making it a retinol cream formula. Once your skin is acclimated, you may use Overnight Retinol Repair alone, before, or mixed with your prescribed Dermalogica moisturiser to keep it as a retinol cream if you prefer. Again, avoid other targeted treatment products while using retinol and don’t forget to apply SPF during the day.

The next step up once you’ve come this far (if you have, congrats!) could be a retinol 1% formula. The Reform Skincare Retinol 1% Créme could be a good option at this stage of your retinol journey as the retinol cream includes cucumber, chamomile and aloe Vera to soothe and calm the skin as the higher concentration retinol works to minimise fine lines, blotches, uneven skin tone and wrinkles. A retinol cream formula can be beneficial as they can be less drying than retinol serums alone on some skin types. Once you’ve gotten to this level you’re almost a pro at retinol yourself, and you’ll have hopefully noticed the benefits for your skin and can progress further when the time is right, you’ll be glad you started when you did.

What to remember?

Okay, so if you’re feeling more comfortable with retinol now and want to begin using it, here are some of the main things you should remember before you take the plunge.

Always wear SPF. We should be wearing SPF year-round anyways, but it is even more important to do this when using retinol as our skin will be more exposed to UV light. If you don’t already have it there, add SPF to your morning skincare routine.

Only use retinol at night, retinol works best at night when our skin cells are in prime production, as we know it makes skin more prone to sun damage, that doesn’t mean you’ll burn straight away if you accidentally apply it and step outside, but the sun can lessen the effectiveness of the product too so keep it in your night routine. Make sure to take some nights off, retinol should only be used 1 to 3 times a week for best results. Our skin needs time to breath and recover with anything that harsh, alternation is key.

Do not use retinol while pregnant. It is important to remember that retinol is a very strong product and should not be used while nursing or pregnant, it may cause complications which can be otherwise avoided. Ask your doctor for advice on this if you need more information.

Don’t give up! You’ve come so far with your knowledge already, successful retinol usage is all about consistency and attention to detail. Don’t give up if you’re not seeing results right away, it is gradual but it will be worth it.

Good luck!

By Jade Carpenter

17th Nov 2020 Jade Carpenter

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