September 6, 2019

Retinoids – Tips for Safe and Effective Use

Retinoids are an umbrella term for retinol products, a staple ingredient in anti-aging skincare. They are vitamin A-derived products that help to improve pigmentation, skin texture and skin tone by stimulating a quicker renewal of skin cells. Retinols have been shown to inhibit collagenase (the enzyme that breaks down collagen), thus boosting collagen production. They may also have the potential to stop photoaging such as fine lines and wrinkles, before it starts.

Prescription formulas contain retinoic acid (tretinoin), a potent ingredient that fights visible aging; non-prescription alternatives contain retinol, which need to be converted into retinoic acid by the skin at the cellular level. Retinol is gentler than retinoic acid, but biochemically, it does the same thing. Pro-retinols (e.g. retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, and retinyl linoleate) are even gentler on the skin than retinols but effects are shown to be weaker.

Some examples of retinoid-containing products include:

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Here are some tips for getting the most out of retinoids in your skin care routine.

Tip 1: Start small, go slow

A pea-sized amount of product is usually all you need for the entire face. During the initial stages, skin irritation is common, causing redness and drier-than-usual, lightly peeling skin. After two to three weeks, the skin cells adapt to the retinoic acid and begin to tolerate the ingredient. A common advice is to use retinoids on alternate days, before progressing to daily use after the skin tolerates it. Results take an average of 6 to 12 weeks to be noticeable, so perseverance is necessary.

Tip 2: Stagger the use of exfoliators

As retinoids already exfoliate the skin, consecutive use of additional exfoliators (e.g. AHA) can peel off too many layers of skin, leaving it raw. A common advise is to reduce the use of other exfoliators to once or twice a week initially until retinoids are tolerated.

Tip 3: Apply retinoids at night and use sunscreen during the day

At night, skin goes into ‘recovery mode,’ a time of intense repair and regeneration, and it makes sense to support and maximize the skin’s renewal process by applying retinoids at this time. Retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to light, so it is important to use sunscreen in the day. In any case, sunscreen is vital for maintaining skin health, and should be used regardless of retinoid use!

Tip 4: Do not use during pregnancy, or when trying to get pregnant

Importantly, retinoid-containing products should not be used during pregnancy, or in women planning pregnancy, as it can cause harm to the unborn baby.

Tags: Anti-aging, retinoid, retinol