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Retinols and Retinoids: A Beginner’s Guide

While more and more women are starting to invest in an evening skincare routine that involves retinoids such as serums, you can find both retinol and retinyl palmitate in different anti-ageing products. You can choose between eye cream, facial serums and other over-the-counter skin treatments.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a derivative, technically a type of retinoid, all of which as derivatives work on different levels. Retinoids have been widely used, studied, and tested as an anti-ageing compound specifically for wrinkle reduction. It’s the go-to ingredient for increasing collagen production and the rate of skin cell turnover which helps regenerate tired and mature skin. This Vitamin A as many would prefer to call it,  helps treat acne and clogged pores through the reduction of cells’ stickiness responsible for clogging pores. 

By looking at the ingredients lists on retinol products, you would be able to tell which one you need. 

What does Retinol do?

The ongoing frenzy around Retinoids and retinol products is not surprising since it’s a powerful tool for improving skin texture, pigmentation, and signs of ageing. A few drops and days into using a wrinkle-targeting retinol serum, for example, you’ll have firmer, regenerated skin. It’s a strong ingredient for those who are big on transformative effects. However, the same results also garner a divided opinion among both consumers and experts.

The hype surrounding retinol is real and it’s a good way to rediscover skincare because:

It Prevents Wrinkles

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There are many factors that cause premature ageing. But, using a retinol-rich treatment not only smoothes your existing fine lines. It also reduces the appearance of new lines and wrinkles appearing on your face and remains a gold-standard ingredient in wrinkle prevention and anti-ageing skincare. It works on a cellular level and not just the surface topical level that most skin products do. So much so that you’ll see and experience a phenomenal transformation over time.

Overall Slows Down the Body’ Ageing Process

Up until your early 30s, your cells turn over every 28 days, creating a fresh layer of untouched, pristine skin. Then you hit your mid-30s where your skin regeneration starts slowing down and it continues to turn over every 50-70 days. The slower the skin’s regeneration is, the easier it is for your face to look tired, dull, and dry. You get the picture.

It Gives Your Skin Its Young Vibe Back

Retinol sinks into your skin and speeds up cell turnover, causing your body to churn out fresher, smoother skin again. It essentially tricks your body into thinking it’s younger than it is, effectively bringing you back to your glory, glowing, youthful days. Given that you won’t see results overnight—it’ll take at least three months of consistent nightly use to notice some reduction in deeper lines, dark spots, and acne scarring. But if your retinol serum also includes things like hydrogenated retinol, you will notice the wrinkles plumping a lot earlier.

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Take Note of These Retinol Misconceptions

Retinoids During Daytime Increase the Chances of Sunburn

Yes, some retinoids can cause the skin to be more sun-sensitive so it’s always important to wear good SPF protection, and it’s still best to apply retinol creams at night. It’s generally the increased skin renewal process and the high activity of retinol that can cause this. 

Retinols are Generally the Same

Technically, retinol is just one of the many different types of retinoids (the umbrella term for all vitamin-A derivatives, including retinol) that are on the market. As mentioned, there is a lot of drugstore anti-ageing formulas that could contain retinyl palmitate (the weakest of the retinoids). Or, it could contain retinol (the next strongest and most tolerable), retinaldehyde (even stronger). Another one is adapalene (the strongest over-the-counter option that’s also specifically formulated to treat acne). 

Or, you can just ask a skin professional who would help you determine which retinol product to use. 

Retinol Creams and Serums shouldn’t all be irritating

Retinoids are known to rapidly increase the cell renewal process and sometimes this means it can cause skin shedding to the cells at a faster rate. So, after your first use, you can sometimes experience dryness. However, if itching and irritation occur, you may be having a skin reaction to the retinol (or it may be too much, too fast). You may just need to allow your skin some adjustment period but it’s always best to seek the advice of a skin professional.

Stop Using Retinol If Your Skin Gets Irritated on The First Try

Irritation can flare up at the parts of your skin where you wear or apply Vitamin A and that’s normal. A lot of clinical trials proves that after two weeks at least, the skin will be able to adjust to the retinoic acid. It’s also going to tolerate the ingredient better. However, if irritation and discomfort continue, it’s best to consult a skin professional. 

Retinol is a powerhouse ingredient, so if you haven’t already, make sure to get your retinol serum today!

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