Retinol may sound scary but experts and beauty buffs can't stop preaching the benefits of the wonder ingredient.
And if, like us, you're constantly on the quest for flawless skin (who isn't?), and have tried every lotion and potion under the sun to no avail, you might - nay, need - to take heed of this advice.
Celebrity cosmetic skin doctor, Dr Ross Perry, has revealed his single best piece of skincare advice.
The skin guru maintains that there's just one ingredient that is super effective on lines and wrinkles.
For beauty beginners, Dr Perry has summarised exactly what retinol is (thank you, doctor).
"Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and these retinoin based creams are pretty much the only clinically proven creams to help reduce lines and wrinkles," he said.
So how does the miracle worker boost skin? Well, enzymes in the body covert retinol to retinoid acid, an active form of vitamin A. This increases cell turnover, stimulates collagen and elastin production. Thus it is appropriate for treating everything from pigmentation, cystic acne and wrinkles. There is also strong research that it clarifies and evens skin tone.
Dr Perry explains that the main use for retinol has been for the treatment of acne but the reason we don't have the stronger prescription based ones available over the counter is because some evidence suggests they can thin the skin if overused.
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Ready to brush up on your retinol knowledge? Read our ultimate guide to all things retinol to sort the fact from the fiction...
Q. Retinol & Vitamin A are the same thing.
“Also known as Retinol, Vitamin A can help increase the appearance of firmness, diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles, significantly improve uneven skin tone, smooth and finally refine the surface of skin as well. Retinol is definitely a powerful multi-tasker.” Linda Blahr, Head of National Training at SkinCeuticals.
Q. You should apply retinoids during the day.
Retinol breaks down in sunlight, which is why most retinol products are held in opaque packaging. Exposure to UV light renders the product less active, which makes the use of it less beneficial. “Retinol is prone to increase photosensitivity within the skin,” says Linda Blahr, Head of National Training at SkinCeuticals. “Always use a high, broad spectrum sunscreen when using this product.”
Q. Retinoids are for all skin types.
While retinol is suitable for everyone, different strengths are appropriate for different skin types.
Retinol can by damaging if your skin is sensitive, enhancing inflammation and causing eczema, rosacea and peeling. Retinol can be quite drying, so it is recommended for those with dry & dehydrated to seal the product in with a moisturiser at the very least.
Q. Retinol should be used once a week.
A. True...to begin
Retinol causes redness, dryness and even flaking - however this can easily be avoided or minimised by gradually introducing the ingredient into your skincare regime and building a tolerance to the ingredient. “Night-time only, apply a pea-sized amount of retinol to clean and dry skin, avoiding the eye area,” Linda Blahr, Head of National Training at SkinCeuticals. “For optimal results, wait at least 30 minutes before applying other skincare products. Limit initial use to once or twice a week, gradually increasing frequency as tolerated.”
Q. Retinoids thin the skin.
Retinol actually thickens the skin, increasing cell turnover and collagen production for thicker, more youthful skin.
Q. Start using retinol in your 20’s.
While there is no set time to use retinol, most dermatologists advise introducing the product in your mid-twenties, particularly if you suffer from breakouts or pigmentation. It is suggested that one uses retinol for 3 months, then takes a three month break. This is due to research that suggests cell turnover is no longer increased after 3 months of retinol usage.
Q. Retinoids are THE miracle ingredient.
A. True & False
Enzymes in the body covert retinol to retinoid acid, an active form of vitamin A. This increases cell turnover, stimulates collagen and elastin production. Thus it is appropriate for treating everything from pigmentation, cystic acne and wrinkles. There is also strong research that it clarifies and evens skin tone. In many ways it is considered the miracle ingredient, but it is important to note that, if used improperly, retinol can compromise the epidermal barrier.
Q. Retinol, Retin-A & Retinoid are the same thing.
Retin-A is a prescription level retinoid that is stronger in nature, used for acne as well as aging.
Retinol is the over-the-counter version of Retin-A, which becomes the active Retinoic Acid when it hits the skin.
Retinoids are the family that Retin-A, Retinol & Retinoic Acid belong to. It is a chemical compound of Vitamin A.
Q. Retinol can be used with acids.
Benzoyl peroxide, AHA’s & BHA’s are known to reduce productivity within retinoids, so do not mix them. These will also compromise the skin, as both acids and retinol can cause irritation.
If we've convinced you to embrace the hero ingredient, here are our favourite retinol eye creams for smoothing wrinkles and crow's feet...
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