Retinol & why you need it.

If you’re over the age of 28, you should probably be using a retinol. Here’s why:

  • It stimulates collagen production (helps with skins strength, elasticity, and hydration – lack of collagen is the main cause for fine lines and wrinkles)
  • It speeds up cellular turnover 
  • It brightens complexion 
  • It improves lots of common skin concerns, like the appearance of fine lines and dark spots, and it can even help with adult acne

In my poll last week, I asked followers what they wanted to see more information on. The most requested topic was ingredients, so I wanted to start with one of my all time favorites – retinol. There simply is no other ingredient like it for smoothing skin.

I also had a client recently tell me that a dermatologist advised that she not use a retinol because it would just make her red and flaky. And while this can be true (especially if you jump right into using a prescription strength retinol product), it doesn’t have to be! There are ways to make using a retinol effective for just about everyone (more on that below).

Most simply, retinol products are a derivative of Vitamin A, and they come in lots of different types and concentrations (from 0.01% up to 2%). The strongest form is Retinoic Acid (also known as Retin-A or Trentinoin) is prescription only. If you’re just starting out with a Vitamin A product, you’ll want to start with a retinol ester or just a normal retinol instead. The stronger the form, the more you’re at risk for seeing reactions like redness, dryness, and flaking, since they can pack such a powerful punch. You’ll want to start slowly, with a lower concentration once per week, and ramp up use over a period of a few months.

A retinol product is a wonderful addition to your home care lineup if you’re over the age of 28, which is when lots of hormonal changes due to age can start to have an effect on our skin. You’re also a good candidate for a retinol product if you’re starting to see signs of aging like fine lines, if you are struggling with mild breakouts, or if you just want a smoother, more even skin tone.

You should not use retinol if you have contraindications like rosacea or eczema, or are pregnant or nursing.

When it comes to buying a retinol product over the counter (OTC), packaging matters. Because retinol is a bit of a diva, it doesn’t like being exposed to the air, and can have reduced efficacy if it is repeatedly exposed to oxygen. That’s why you should always look for a retinol that comes in a pump style container – never a dropper or a twist off cap bottle. Also, make sure you’re not using a retinol at the same time as an acid, like a glycolic or lactic, since retinol needs a higher pH to be effective. It’s best to look for buffered or encapsulated formulations, which help to reduce the possibility of adverse reactions like redness or irritation, and have more of a time-released delivery system which increases product penetration and efficiency. Use your retinol product before bed, so it can do the work and sweet-talk your cells while you sleep. Then use your Vitamin C serum during the day for a one-two punch that will have you seeing serious results in 30 days or less. 

Do you have questions about picking a retinol product, or are you already using one you love? I’d love to hear from you!

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