HERE’S WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE YOUTH PRESERVING INGREDIENT IN YOUR SKINCARE
If you are a skin-care junkie and want to look as young as possible for the longest time, you have no doubt come across retinol. The ingredient is often credited with being the most effective at battling wrinkles and other skin imperfections. Dermatologists say that if you have to use one thing, it should be some form of retinoid. But what is retinol, and how does it work?
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A that helps cells regenerate. It is known for its anti-aging benefits. Retinoids, which belong to the same family as retinol, were first introduced in 1971 as a treatment for acne, psoriasis, wrinkles and other signs of aging, and some cancers. Today, retinol and retinoids are prized for their anti-aging benefits, and it really works.
Retinoids and retinols are both part of the vitamin A family, but their intensities differ. Retinols are basically a weaker form of retinoids, and available over-the-counter. Retinoids are available at higher concentrations and should be used only by prescription.
Even though retinols are weaker, they work. You however need to commit to 12 weeks of use to see results. They just take longer to work because they are lower potency. Often retinols are mixed with moisturizers, so they are not as irritating, and gentler on the skin.
The active agent in retinols and retinoids is retinoic acid which is responsible for increasing cell turnover. Essentially, the acid works by diffusing through the cell membrane and binding to receptors on the cell’s nucleus, where it performs like a gene to promote cell growth. Retinoic acid also blocks the production of collagenase, which is an enzyme that breaks down collagen. Collagen production wanes with age and preserving it is critical. More collagen means plumper, more voluminous skin with healthy elasticity, i.e., fewer wrinkles and less sagging.
A study found that use of a 0.1 percent retinol product reduced the appearance of wrinkles on the cheeks by 64 percent and the eye area by 39 percent after 12 weeks of use.
However, there can be some nasty side effects to its use. It can cause irritation, usually in the form of redness, burning, and scaling. The more concentrated the product, the more the negative side effects. But over time, the skin will build a tolerance, so while you may experience some redness and irritation when you start out, your skin may be able to handle the ingredient better after a few weeks.
Most dermatologists recommend easing your way into use to avoid a negative reaction. Typically start every third night and after a week or two, every other night and eventually every night. Start with a concentration of at least 0.25 percent, but you can choose a higher concentration if your skin isn’t particularly sensitive. It may take some trial and error to figure out what strength and frequency works best for your skin. To minimize irritation, use the retinol between moisturizer applications. It won’t interfere with the retinol absorption into the skin.
It’s best to apply retinols and retinoids at night, right after washing the face. That’s because sun exposure can create issues. Sunlight can deactivate retinoic acid. Retinoic acid can also make the skin more sensitive to sunlight because the newly surfaced skin is thin and delicate. Just make sure you are using sun protection during the day.
Suspend use of a retinol or retinoids if you are pregnant as its use has been linked to birth defects according to some studies.