Updated: Dec 22, 2020
If I were to tell you that there was an ingredient on the market that has been PROVEN to reverse signs of ageing, would you believe me? Probably not, but its true, and it goes by the name of Retinol. Retinol is a form of Retinoid, that is actually a derivative of Vitamin A, other retinoids include Retinoic Acid and Retinyl Palmitate. You probably won’t see Retinoic Acid on any skincare products, as this is usually only available in prescription products. Due to its highly active formula, it makes it highly irritating on the skin. The main benefits of these Retinoids are to help boost collagen production, increase cell turnover, and accelerate skin renewal to even out skin tone and smooth the skin, making it a ‘hero’ ingredient for ageing skins.
Let’s talk about the 2 Retinoids you will see on your skincare products, Retinyl Palmitate, and the holy grail Retinol.
Firstly, we need to understand how Retinoids work. With all retinoids, they need to be converted into Retinoic Acid within the skin by enzymes before they are effective. These enzymes trigger a process within the cells which eventually stimulates collagen biosynthesis, and this is where the magic begins. However, Retinol is an unstable molecule, meaning it can be degraded before it even has the chance to penetrate the skin, that is why aiming for a Microencapsulated Retinol product is a much safer, more effective option, as this protects the molecule ready for penetration.
Retinyl Palmitate is actually the mildest retinoid, giving minimal skin irritation. This is due to the time it takes it to convert into Retinoic Acid.
Retinol is the strongest form available with no prescription, 20% weaker than Retinoic Acid and with a lot less skin irritation. It is slowly converted into Retinoic Acid by skin enzymes, making it suitable for retail products.
With all retinoids, it is so important that they are used safely and correctly to reduce the risk of any damage to the skin. You need to build up skin tolerance before going onto any stronger formulations, by gradually introducing it into your routine. And not to forget, Retinol is a night-time product ONLY, and be sure to use high SPF in the day-time to ensure full protection of your skin. Retinoids are also not suitable for pregnancy or breastfeeding. The main reasons as to why it is a PM product only is 1) to help preserve its integrity as it is susceptible to degradation from UV, 2) to coordinate with the body’s natural circadian rhythm when cell renewal is at it’s prime (See my other blog ‘Why your skin needs 8 hours of beauty sleep too’) and 3) to work directly on clean skin without interacting with any other products or cosmetics. Retinol is not something to be afraid of, it is an extremely effective, results driven ingredient, but only when used with care.
But hold on, just when you thought Retinol couldn’t get any better, what if I told you it not only is a hero ingredient for ageing skin, but it works wonders on ACNE Skins? YAS. Due to its ability to increase cell turnover, it helps to get rid of dead skin cells which causes the pores to be blocked in these acne-prone skins. It also can help to decrease oil production, act on inflammation, smooth acne scarring and lighten any red marks left behind from spots. If you are on any form of acne medication, both creams and antibiotics, Retinol is a definite no-go.
So, from what we know, Retinoids are a fab product to have on your skincare shelf, they just needed to be used with care, just like your skin.