Welcome to our latest article on retinol! This product has been used for years to improve the appearance of the skin. Read on and you'll learn how to get the most out of this wonderful substance while avoiding its potential side effects.
Retinol stimulates the formation of new epithelial cells, therefore contributing to reduce spots and expression lines. Products with high concentrations of vitamin A are used exclusively in dermatology. While over-the-counter cosmetics containing retinol can be just as effective, you will have to persevere and be patient if you want to get results.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The best retinol products: Our Picks
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about retinol
- 4.1 What is retinol exactly?
- 4.2 What is the difference between retinol and other vitamin A derivatives?
- 4.3 For whom are retinol products tailored?
- 4.4 Who should refrain from using retinol products?
- 4.5 How can I benefit from retinol serums?
- 4.6 How should I apply my retinol serum?
- 4.7 Should I put sunscreen on when using retinol?
- 4.8 What are the potential side effects of using retinol?
- 4.9 Can I use retinol products during my pregnancy?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Retinol is a vitamin A derivative capable of stimulating the renewal of the most superficial layer of the skin.
- This product is particularly effective in the treatment of acne, blemishes and the first expression lines.
- The main side effects of retinol are inflammation, redness, and scaling of the skin. These unpleasant symptoms may appear if your skin is particularly sensitive or if you make excessive use of this product.
The best retinol products: Our Picks
Let's have a look at the very best retinol products available on the market. This section was designed to help you discover which one is the most suitable for you and your family. You'll also learn about some of the benefits of retinol for your skin.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about retinol
This derivative of vitamin A has been used in the cosmetic industry since 1984. This molecule can stimulate the DNA of the cells it comes into contact with and speed up their metabolism. If you use it with constancy, retinol can boost the production of new cells and contribute to the thickening of your epidermis.
What is retinol exactly?
As you may already know, collagen production and the creation of new skin cells slows down around the age of 30. Vitamin A can penetrate your cells and stimulate their metabolism, making them act as young cells.
By adding a retinol serum to your skincare routine, you can alleviate the signs of ageing; your skin will appear refreshed, hydrated and healthy. You can generally notice an improvement in your skin's condition within about three months of consistent use, so patience is the word!
What is the difference between retinol and other vitamin A derivatives?
We believe that it is important for you to know the main differences so that you can make an informed decision when choosing the serum bets suited for your skin.
- Retinyl palmitate: This weak retinoid is more affordable than other vitamin A derivatives. The palmitic acid found inside means that its effect is mostly moisturising. Its impact on wrinkles, blemishes and acne are somewhat limited, but it rarely causes irritation of the skin. We recommend it for sensitive skins.
- Retinol: The potency of this product is moderate. It is considered safe enough to be sold over the counter. The reputation of the manufacturer's brand tends to affect the price of the product. Its most common side effects are redness and scaling. It improves the aesthetic appearance of your skin by producing microscopic changes in its structure.
- Tretinoin: The acid component found in this product is particularly suitable for the treatment of acne, and it is also known as an excellent anti-ageing agent. You will need a doctor's prescription for its use due to its known side effects: redness, irritation and inflammation of the skin.
- Isotretinoin: Like tretinoin, this molecule is used for the treatment of more severe acne. Presenting very uncomfortable side effects, this product requires a prescription and medical monitoring for proper use.
- Tazarotene: As the most potent retinoid out there, it is mainly used for the treatment of psoriasis; it is also known for contributing to fight signs of ageing. Unfortunately, the price of this wonderful product is steeper.
We've created the table below to give you a more visual idea of the differences between retinol and other vitamin A derivatives:
|Derivative||Potency||Side effects||Price||Over-the-counter sale|
|Retinyl palmitate||Weak||Very mild||Low||Yes|
For whom are retinol products tailored?
- Wrinkles and expression lines
- Marks and scars from acne
- Acne, blemishes and blackheads
- Irregular skin texture
Who should refrain from using retinol products?
Additionally, people with particularly sensitive skin should use retinol with extreme care. If you fall in this category, we strongly encourage you to start with a product presenting the lowest possible concentration of retinol. Go for a trial period and gradually increase the potency of your product if no side effects appear.
How can I benefit from retinol serums?
The thickness of your skin is gradually reduced by ageing. Retinol combats this slimming and restores the elasticity, hydration and freshness of your skin. Both men and women can benefit from the use of retinoid products.
How should I apply my retinol serum?
You should apply a small amount of retinol to your face, neck and cleavage. You'll notice that a pea-sized quantity will be enough for gel and cream serums. For products in the form of oil, 4 drops should be plenty. We encourage you to stick to recommended amounts so as to avoid potential irritation, scaling or redness.
Should I put sunscreen on when using retinol?
We still don't know the exact mechanism through which retinol sensitises our skin to solar radiation. Some authors believe that it is due to an effect from this very molecule, while other hypotheses claim that new cells have a lower tolerance to the sun. Be it as it may, your epidermis will be more sensitive to the action of sunrays.
What are the potential side effects of using retinol?
As we've said before, our recommendation is to start with low concentrations of retinol, one night a week for one month. Depending on how your skin tolerates the product, you can gradually increase you frequency of use. Here's a tip from us to you: apply moisturiser ten minutes before your serum if you have particularly sensitive skin.
We've summed up side effects of retinol use and their solutions in the table below:
|Skin redness||Sunscreen. Moisturising before applying retinol.|
|Irritation||Sunscreen. Moisturising before applying retinol. Spread out applications of serum.|
|Scaling||Sunscreen. Use cleansers and creams for sensitive skin. Moisturise thoroughly.|
|Dry skin||Sunscreen. Moisturising (masks, day creams).|
|Pain, allergic reactions, severe or continuous irritation||Stop using the product, and seek immediate medical attention.|
Can I use retinol products during my pregnancy?
The use of retinol is contraindicated for pregnant and lactating women.
Serums containing vitamin C, glycolic acid or lactic acid are safe alternatives for your foetus.
This following section will introduce you to the most relevant factors to consider when purchasing your very own retinol product. Analyse these factors when choosing your new product:
What issue are you trying to combat? Low retinol concentration will do just fine if you're trying to improve your skin's appearance. On the other hand, you'll have to go for more powerful products if you're worried about blemishes and wrinkles. Unfortunately, manufacturers have no obligation to reveal the exact amount of retinol present in their serums.
While certain products advertise very high concentrations of retinol, they actually present a small quantity diluted in oils and moisturisers. Choose a quality brand with a formulation that uses retinol as its main ingredient. And don't forget: you should always read the product's composition before buying it.
We recommend you use serums with low retinol concentration if your skin is particularly sensitive, prone to, allergies eczema or rosacea. The best thing you can do is perform a small test in a discreet zone – such as behind your ear – to check your reaction to the product within 24 hours.
Otherwise, note that practically all skin types (dry, oily, combination) can benefit from retinol and its effects. You'll want to opt for a lighter serum if you have oily or combination skin. You can go for thicker oils if your skin is dry. Regardless of your skin type, it is essential that you put sunscreen on everyday while using retinoids.
You will find serums free of parabens and silicones on the market, as well as products respectful of nature and the environment. You'll also be as happy as we are to know that more and more cosmetics companies are being compassionate and refusing to test their products on animals. If that is the case, your serum will carry a distinctive symbol on its packaging, as proof that its manufacturer does not experiment with animals.
Type of packaging
We've mentioned before that retinol deteriorates on contact with air and light. This is why it is essential that you buy products with opaque containers, and don't forget to store it away from direct sunlight.
We strongly encourage you to buy products in tube or with a dispenser. You'll better preserve your serum by only letting the amount of product you use immediately come into contact with air.
Value for money
Retinol products tend to offer great bang for your buck. You'll only need a small amount of retinol to improve your skin's appearance if you use it consistently. You can save some money by choosing a serum with a composition focusing on retinol and with fewer additional ingredients.
As you now know, retinol can accelerate your skin cells' metabolism, leading to rejuvenated skin, free of stains and wrinkles. Including redness and scaling, its side effects are easily preventable and will usually disappear over time.
We hope this guide will help you choose the retinol product that's most suitable for your skin. Always read carefully each product's formulation before making your purchase, and don't let yourself be fooled by percentages and concentrations. Remember that patience is key: you'll have a young and beautiful skin in a matter of months.
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(Source of featured image: Mandrikova: 51170131/ 123rf.com)