What is Retinol and what can it do for my skin?

The different names and types of Vitamin A can be confusing, so here are some facts to help you choose the right products for your skin.

Vitamin A (retinol) is a term used for a group of compounds which can be broken down into more potent compounds, called retinoids. Although the terms vitamin A, retinol, and retinoid often are used interchangeably, each has its own distinctive actions and regulations. For example, some forms of retinol can be used freely in cosmetics, while others (retinoids) can be obtained only by prescription.






What do we need vitamin A for?

Vitamin A plays a key role in the development and integrity of the skin, and also the eye and nerve cells, and immune functions. We get dietary vitamin A from oily fish, eggs, butter, cheese and some fruit and vegetables, like carrots. Deficiency in oral vitamin A can result in damage to the skin and eyes, but in the developed world, vitamin A deficiency is extremely rare.

While we need adequate dietary vitamin A intake, this doesn’t seem to protect the skin against ageing changes or sun damage, and for this we need to look at topical or cream versions of vitamin A to see beneficial results.

Prescription Retinoids

Topical prescription retinoid creams (tretinoin) have decades of scientific proof and hundreds of clinical studies from as early as 1962, proving their beneficial effect on the skin. The first vitamin A cream was FDA approved in the early 1970’s as an effective treatment for acne. Doctors soon noticed that their patients using these creams experienced not just clearing of spots, but softer, brighter, less lined skin. Prescription retinoids can cause skin irritation and dryness and are not technically licenced for anti-ageing benefits, even though we know they work. This resulted in extensive research to find effective versions of retinoids that could be incorporated into cosmetic products, without needing a doctor’s prescription.

Cosmetic Retinol

Since 1984, retinol has been cleared for use in cosmetic creams without a prescription. However it is crucial to get a product with adequate amounts of the right type of retinol and it must be packaged in an air-tight and opaque container to ensure the retinol is effective. Retinol works in as little as 4 weeks to improve the epidermis, and studies have shown that with longer use, the dermis or deeper layers achieve benefits such as collagen stimulation and improvement in sun damage and skin ageing. The retinol in cosmetic creams is gentler and less irritating than the prescription only tretinoin, but will give comparable results without the dryness and irritation.

What are the benefits of retinol?

Retinol works to:

·       stimulate collagen

·       improve skin texture

·       reduce fine lines and wrinkles

·       strengthen ageing skin

·       reduce sun damage

·       reduce pigmentation and age spots

·       reduce pore size

·       reduce skin laxity

·       reduce skin roughness

What You Need to Know Before Choosing a Retinol Product

·       Buy retinol products only if they are packaged in opaque containers meant to minimize or block air exposure (no jars!) because all forms of vitamin A break down and deteriorate when repeatedly exposed to air or light.

·       Look for vitamin A listed as retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, or retinyl aldehyde.

·       Apply retinol at night only, as sunlight can inactivate the retinol if you apply it during the day. Retinol won’t not make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

·       Retinol may cause irritation, such as redness and flaking, especially for those new to using it. To prevent this, start by applying every second night and gradually increase to every night. The same applies if you are increasing from regular strength retinol 0.5 to retinol 1.0; just allow your skin gradually to get used to it.

·       If irritation occurs, symptoms should subside within a few days as your skin adjusts to regular use. If the symptoms don’t subside, stop using it and gradually re-introduce it a few week later.

·       Some retinol products like Dermaceutic also contain anti-oxidants and vitamins. If you have dry skin, you can layer a night cream over the retinol, or mix the retinol with your night cream and apply the mixture of both onto your skin.

·       Research shows that using a retinol product in conjunction with AHA exfoliants (such as glycolic acid products, from sugar cane) can significantly improve the effectiveness of retinol in treating sun-damaged skin. Don’t use the two products at the same time: instead use the AHA in the morning and the retinol at night. Putting an AHA on over a retinol at the same time reduces the effectiveness of the retinol and can really dry the skin.

·       Benzoyl peroxide (used for acne) can deactivate retinol, so again, don’t layer the two products on together.

When should I not use Retinol?

Retinol products are not suitable for use if you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy in the next three months, or breast-feeding (due to the vitamin A content).

We recommend taking a break from retinol products three days before any facial peels or Dermapen (micro-needling procedure), and for one week after peels or Dermapen procedures.

Stop retinol products for a few days before and after facial waxing to avoid irritation.

Is Retinol the Best Anti-Ageing Ingredient?

Despite retinol's numerous benefits, it is important to remember that no single ingredient can take care of all of the skin's complex needs. For example, despite retinol's superstar status, it does not eliminate the need for a well-formulated broad spectrum sunscreen, ideally SPF 30-50+. Don’t rely on the SPF in your foundation; you really need a separate product to work effectively to prevent sun damage, and use an SPF every single day of the year, even if it’s cloudy or rainy outside! Sun exposure causes 90 % of the skin’s wrinkles, as well as causing pigmentation, loss of elasticity, skin damage and skin cancer.

Keeping skin healthy and young requires a combination of ingredients and products that work together to give your skin exactly what it needs.

Check this other blog on which anti-ageing products to add to your retinol regime to give you beautiful, healthy protected skin that looks and acts younger: http://bit.ly/1H8p7tu

Contact Faceworks on 059 9186774 or check faceworks.ie if you would like more information or to purchase retinol products and skincare.