• Ruth Dewar

Retinol - The right way to use it.

As our skin ages, especially after the age of 25, we lose around 1% of our existing collagen levels each year!! One of the most talked about ingredients in skincare, retinol is renowned for helping to erase fine line, increase suppleness and brighten complexions and boost collagen and elastin production..... But did you know there are various types of retinol?

Retinols and other derived retinoids (derived from vitamin A) are super ingredients that help turn back the signs of ageing, however their powers go beyond anti ageing . Vitamin A is is the super heavyweight of the skincare world. So how do they work?

Retinoids work, in part by increasing cell renewal and turnover which is part of the skins natural renewal process. It also stimulates collage and elastin production, two proteins responsible for your skin's firmness and plumpness.

Now too much retinol can red flaky skin, so how do we know how much we should be using and which types of retinoids are best for our skin? Firstly if you suffer from eczema or rosacea, or are pregnant, then this ingredient isn't for you. (Peptides or bakuchiol - a plant based retinol alternative will better serve you!) If you suffer with sensitive skin, you can still use retinoids but they should absolutely be gently phased into your skincare routine to see how your skin reacts. (Look for products that contain niacinamide which is a form of vitamin B₃ found in food and used as a dietary supplement and medication. Niacinamide has the benefit of not causing skin flushing and will bolster your skin's barrier function making it more adaptable to retinoids)

Retinol is the most commonly used retinoid and appears in skincare in various doses starting at 0.01%. Anything over 0.03% is for users who have gradually quit up to this level. As retinol is known to cause sensitivity, you should ALWAYS use a sunscreen as part of your skincare routine!! Retinoids are best used at night and usually a pea - sized amount is sufficient for use. You should gradually increase the usage over a period of weeks. From once a week to twice a week and so on. Once your skin has adapted, you can then carefully introduce other active ingredients into your skincare routine.

Here's a quick guide to retinoids:

Retinyl esters - The gentlest retinoids and most bioavailable form of vitamin A. Ideal for anti ageing treatment beginners and for those with sensitive skin. Look out for retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinyl linoleate on labels. This retinoid takes 3 steps to convert into retinoid acid.

Retinol - This is one of the most common retinoids available over the counter and id found in most anti ageing creams and serums. This retinoid is faster acting with only a 2 step conversion.

Retinyl retinoate - now touted as the next generation retinoid, delivers similar benefits to prescription strength formulas, but is still gentle on sensitive skin. This retinoid doesn't break down with UV rays (unlike most others) so this retinoid is suitable for wearing during the day rather than at night.

Retinaldehyde - this retinoid works around 11 times faster than retinol. Only one conversion away from retinoid acid, therefore results are visible much much sooner!

Adapaldene - This is a prescription medicine and is used most commonly to treat acne. You should always speak with your GP or dermatologist before using!

Tretinoin aka retinoid acid - this is only available as prescriptive skin care and should be used exactly as directed. This is the most active form of Vitamin A.

Happy skin care peeps x

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