Like a lot of things in the medical world the use of retinol for aging was also discovered accidentally, It has been and still is, prescribed for acne. However these patient were and are ageing better than others. Since then a lot of research has been undertaken to find more about this. Here I have tried to answer some of your questions that I get asked a lot.
What is retinol?
It’s a form of vitamin A which stimulates skin renewal and the production of collagen in the skin. It is generally contained in serums or creams and used at night as sunlight can make our skin more sensitive to the sun. Sunscreens should always be applied in the day even on a cloudy day. You will have heard me constantly talking about the sunscreen.
How does it work? Here’s the science bit!
When you are in your twenties and early thirties, your skin renews itself every 28 days. However when you get into your thirties, it takes longer to produce fresh, new skin. Cell regeneration slows to between 50 and 70 days as we age. That leaves our skin looking dull and dry and contributes to lines and wrinkles.
The production of collagen in our skin also falls as we grow older, leaving our skin drier, less plump, and more prone to wrinkles. Retinol acts to slow down and regulate the rate of skin cell death.
It also promotes the production of keratinocytes, the most common cells in the outer skin. These cells form a tight barrier which prevents foreign substances entering the skin and, importantly, minimises the loss of moisture so help improve, our skin barrier.
They also inhibit the production of melanin cells and also helps in distributing the melanin evenly and hence help with pigmentation, uneven skin tone, sun spots and melasma etc.
So, retinol acts to protect the skin and helps to prevent wrinkles and lines, boost collagen production and reduce pigmentation.
How effective is it?
Many people who use it report dramatic improvements in the texture and appearance of their skin, particularly if they are in their forties and fifties.
Retinol fades dark patches, brightens the skin, and minimizes any lines or wrinkles you may have.
For clients in their twenties, it’s more about preventing issues such as wrinkles, and treating skin problems such as acne.
Which form of retinol should you choose?
Vitamin A (retinol) and its natural derivatives such as retinaldehyde, retinoic acid, and retinyl esters, as well as a large number of synthetic derivatives are available. Retinyl esters and palmitate are the weakest but great in people with sensitive skin and also for the sensitive parts like neck and décolleté. Retinol, retinal and retinaldehyde are all stronger and work much better. All of these have to convert into active product retinoic acid in the skin before targeting the skin cells.
It depends on your age and the sensitivity of your skin, so it’s best to consult a skin practitioner to get professional advice.
Different retinoids and retinols have different strengths, and some people can find they irritate their skin. So, it’s not advisable to purchase products yourself without advice and just start using them.
Some of the medical grade products have slow release preparations so when you apply it on the skin it is better tolerated.
Are there any potential drawbacks?
Retinoids can make skin extra sensitive to the sun, potentially causing pinking, burning, or discolouration. Its is always recommended that you use sunscreen in the day.
Apart from this its always recommended that you have break from retinol every so often and its best done in summer months,
Why not book a consultation with me to discuss whether retinol is the right choice for your skin? Book here.