What Is Retinol And How Will It Benefit My Skin?

Retinol is another name people hear in a skincare product and steer clear of. 

Retinol is another name people hear in a skincare product and steer clear of. Many people don’t know much about it and the name does sound pretty daunting! But what really is retinol and how will it benefit my skin?
What is retinol?
Retinol along with other retinoids, such as retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate, is a derivative of vitamin A, which is one of the body's key nutrients for boosting cell turnover. It's added to topical skincare products to promote skin renewal, brighten skin tone, reduce acne, and boost collagen production. It also functions as an antioxidant to help address free radical damage, which leads to visible signs
of ageing.
When should I start using it?
Thirty has long been the year for introducing retinol into your skin care routine, but motivated by early signs of ageing, such as sunspots or crow’s feet, or simply eager to get a head start and utilise the latest technologies, many women are starting before then and under the careful watch of their dermatologist. Your mid-twenties are a great time to start using retinol - a preventative approach to ageing.

How can I introduce it into my skincare regime?
If you are thinking of introducing retinol into your routine, integrate it slowly and gently. Retinol can be very irritating if used too frequently or if the formulation is too strong for your skin. Always start with a pea-sized amount of a low percentage over-the-counter formula (0.01% to 0.03%), and use it twice a week. Slowly increasing the usage to give the skin a chance to acclimate. It releases the active ingredient over time and therefore may cause less irritation. Over time you can increase the percentage of retinol in the product you are using.
Are there any side effects?
Everyone's skin reacts differently to retinol. Some people experience temporary redness, flakiness, peeling and sensitivity because their skin lacks enough "retinoid receptors." Retinoid receptors are proteins naturally found in the skin. They act like shuttles that carry and release retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) into skin cells, triggering collagen production. Retinol, the strongest form of retinoid available without a prescription, is converted by skin enzymes into the even stronger form of Retinoic Acid, which is what causes the irritation.

Use it only at night and wear SPF every day
Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product. Therefore you should only use retinoids at night and be diligent about applying a daily broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher during the day. Retinol should not be used when you are on holidays or spending any amount of time in direct sunlight.
Don't stop at your face
When applying a retinol product, don't neglect your neck or décolletage, which are areas notorious for showing the signs of ageing, yet often neglected. If those zones seem too sensitive for your current formula, add some moisturiser before smoothing it on, or pick up a separate retinoid made specifically for that area.

Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.


Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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