The beauty and skincare industry is full of serums, creams, and lotions that are advertised as “anti-aging,” “age-defying,” “anti-wrinkle,” or “regenerative.” There is also a whole category of “acne fighting,” “repairing,” and “dark spot correcting” products. What do all these solutions have in common? Retinol! Retinol is often the active ingredient responsible for achieving the skin you want.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a type of retinoid that comes from vitamin A, the group of fat-soluble vitamins commonly found in foods like spinach, carrots, eggs, cheese, and sweet potatoes. When applied topically, Retinol penetrates the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis) into the dermis, the middle layer of your skin, where it encourages skin cell turnover; it speeds up the production of new skin cells and boosts elastin and collagen production.
What does Retinol treat?
Retinol can be used to treat and prevent multiple different skin conditions, primarily:
- Acne and oily skin
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Dark spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation
How does Retinol work?
Acne and Oily Skin
Retinol treats acne, oily skin, and large pores resulting from acne and oily skin by doing a few different things:
- Retinol balances your skin hydration levels in two ways: it provides mild exfoliating effects to help slough off dead skin cells that can dry skin and control excess oil and sebum production.
- Excess sebum and skin build-up can clog pores; Retinol minimizes both.
- Retinol also helps prevent the formulation of comedones, blackheads, and blemishes by creating comedolytic agents.
- Retinol can block inflammation pathways, minimizing the redness and swelling that comes along with breakouts.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
As skin ages, it produces new cells less frequently, resulting in a dull, rough complexion. Retinol encourages skin cell turnover that you may be lacking, resulting in brighter, smoother skin. As mentioned above, Retinol also promotes collagen and elastic production, both of which help plump up the skin, supporting it and minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It also prevents fine lines and wrinkles in the exact same way: new cells, collagen production, and elastin production.
Dark Spots, Acne Scars and Hyperpigmentation
Improved skin cell turnover also improves your overall skin tone and texture. New and healthy skin cells replace the old ones, minimizing dark spots, scars, and hyperpigmentation. It is especially effective at treating those issues caused by sun damage.
What are the side effects and risks of using Retinol?
When starting a skincare routine that includes retinol, many people experience retinization, during which your skin is adjusting to the Retinol. Your skin may be irritated, dry, and itchy, and you may experience mild peeling. The side effects are often minimal and go away after a few weeks of use.
It is extremely important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 over any treatment area. Retinol increases the sun sensitivity of your skin, making your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Sunburn is one of the greatest risks of using Retinol and can easily be prevented by applying sunscreen.
What Retinol products are right for me?
Even though you can buy Retinol skin care over the counter, we recommend medical-grade skin care products (check out our blog on why here) which can only be prescribed by a medical professional. Plus, the concentration of Retinol in a product, and the other ingredients working with the Retinol vary depending on what issue the product is designed to treat. Our providers will work with you to determine what your skincare goals are, and which product is right for you. You can call our office or book a consultation online.