Retinol…this word has always had an element of mystery to it. People are either scared of it, or confused by it. But why is it so misunderstood and can we crack its code?
Firstly, we need to understand that there are two separate elements:
- RETINOIC ACID
They both come from Vitamin A.
Retinoic acid is a super potent form, which can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner. It does come with side effects and can only be used for a short period of time.
Retinol on the other hand, can be used indefinitely and is what we usually use on our skin. Retinol when is contained in a serum, will convert to retinoic acid once it enters your skin, so you still get the positive effects, but the reaction is reduced.
There is a common idea that retinol is only for more mature skin, but this is entirely a myth! Retinol serums are important to prevent ageing skin, but can also work wonders for skin that has been affected by acne scarring.
The mechanics of retinol is to say the least, complicated! Its main benefits include:
- Reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, including acne scarring
- Preventing new signs of hyperpigmentation
- Increasing collagen and elastin production
- Helping to restore your skin’s barrier function
So in a nutshell, it will make your skin smoother, younger and healthier.
Sounds perfect, why wouldn’t I just jump in and use the highest concentration I can find? Surely my skin will be the most smooth and healthy it can be! Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works!
Retinol serums can have side effects on your skin, such as peeling and redness. The higher the concentration, the stronger the side effects.
If you are a retinol virgin, you’ll want to start with a lower concentration such as 0.25%. If you are happy to endure some peeling and discomfort, and want results faster, 0.5% or even 1% could be better suited to you.
The most important thing to remember, when using a retinol serum, is that it makes your skin PHOTOSENSITIVE. This means sensitive to light i.e. the sun! Therefore, only use it at night and ensure you are using sun protection daily! More on that in the next blog post!
Retinol really does encompass the idea of no pain, no gain! And if you’re willing to endure a bit of pain, the gains will certainly be worth it!