Retinol, What Does It Do and Is It Right For You? – Seo-Yon Shin, Lady Eleanor Holles

Retinol belongs to the class of compounds retinoid which is a derivative of vitamin A. Another example of a retinoid is Retin-A, which is around 20 times more potent than retinol. Retinol is usually found in serums, but is also advertised in creams. 


What do retinoids do?

Retinoids help with a process called cell turnover which consists of dead skin cells being shedded and replaced with healthy cells. Cell turnover takes longer with age, with a rapid increase in this time beginning around the mid-30s. Along with a decrease in collagen and fat, the time it takes for cell turnover to occur contributes to fine lines and wrinkles. Using retinol on your skin can help to reduce the appearance of these fine lines and wrinkles as it quickens the time frame for cell turnover. As a result, retinoids also help with acne as the fat-soluble compound can prevent pores from being blocked by dead skin cells and oils.

Some things to consider…

Those with a dryer skin type may find that they retinol makes it even dryer so a good, nourishing moisturiser is a must to use alongside retinol products. As well as for all skincare and beauty products, it is important to conduct a patch test at least 24 hours before usage to prevent allergic reactions.

How do you use retinoids, and which products are best?

It is important to notice the concentration of retinol in the product when shopping, as higher percentages (such as 5%) can cause irritation for people who have never used chemical exfoliants or retinol before. It is recommended to start with a low concentration (such as 0.5%) and only use a few times a week to start, to prevent any bad reaction to the product and to get your skin acclimated and trained, before using the product more frequently. Higher concentrations, than those available over the counter, can be accessed with a prescription from a dermatologist. As retinols act as an exfoliant, they should not be layered with other exfoliants such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid and a sunscreen must always be used the morning after, as all exfoliants increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. For those on a budget, The Ordinary provide several serums with varying concentrations of retinol. THE INKEY LIST, another drugstore brand, stock a good retinol serum, although only in one concentration. For those looking for a more luxurious product, Drunk Elephant also carry a retinol cream.


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