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Ingredient spotlight: Retinol
One of the most widely researched and proven skincare ingredients available today, retinol is shown to help improve the visible effects of aging. This potent ingredient helps promote cell turnover to diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and blemishes. Formulated with pure retinol and bisabolol (derived from chamomile), SkinCeuticals retinol night creams are designed to ensure maximum efficacy while minimizing irritation commonly associated with the use of retinol creams.
What is retinol?
A form of vitamin A, retinol or retinoic acid, is clinically proven to improve the appearance of aging skin, acne, and skin discoloration. Retinol helps promote cell turnover, improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, skin discoloration, and blemishes. When applied to the skin, retinol converts to retinoic acid and is often considered a more tolerable form of vitamin A.
How does retinol benefit my skin?
With age, skin’s natural cell turnover decreases resulting in dull, uneven skin tone and rough skin texture. Topical retinol creams help promote turnover of surface cells, which means dead skin cells are sloughed away faster, revealing visibly healthier and brighter skin. Similarly, retinol’s exfoliation mechanism helps improve the appearance of blemishes by preventing dead skin cells from clogging pores.
Purity is essential for retinol efficacy in skin, as pure retinol most easily converts to retinoic acid in skin. Always look for high concentration of pure retinol vs. retinol derivatives such as retinyl palmitate. SkinCeuticals uses pure, high concentrations of retinol enhanced with stabilization technology to ensure maximum conversion and efficacy.
Is retinol the same as tretinoin?
Retinol and tretinoin are both chemical compounds derived from vitamin A. Tretinoin is a pharmaceutical form of retinoic acid available only by prescription. It is frequently prescribed for acne, but also helps improve fine lines, wrinkles, and skin discoloration. Though highly effective, this topical treatment can cause unwanted side effects including redness, peeling, and dryness.¹ Topical retinol, on the other hand, is available for purchase without a prescription as an over the counter (OTC) retinol cream. While it functions similarly to tretinoin, research has shown that it is potentially less irritating.²
For the appropriate recommendation on which form of vitamin A product is best suited to your specific skin needs, please consult a skincare professional.
¹Reference: Drugs.com; Tretinoin topical side effects; ref: "Product Information. Retin-A (tretinoin)." Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, Raritan, NJ.
² Reference: J Invest Dermatol. 1995 Oct;105(4):549-56. Application of retinol to human skin in vivo induces epidermal hyperplasia and cellular retinoid binding proteins characteristic of retinoic acid but without measurable retinoic acid levels or irritation. Kang S1, Duell EA, Fisher GJ, Datta SC, Wang ZQ, Reddy AP, Tavakkol A, Yi JY, Griffiths CE, Elder JT, et al.
Can I use retinol in the sun?
Pure retinol acts as a strong exfoliant, which can render skin sensitive to sun and UV damage. Therefore, it is recommended that retinol be applied in the evening and always be used in conjunction with a high broad spectrum sunscreen during the day. Many physicians do not recommend retinol use during peak summer months.
Additionally, research shows that some retinol formulations can breakdown quickly if not in proper protective packaging. SkinCeuticals retinol night creams are packaged to ensure stability and protection of the product potency.
How to use retinol?
In the evening after cleansing and toning, apply a pea-sized amount to the tips of the fingers. Using too much retinol can irritate the skin. Dab the product onto your face, avoiding the eye area and massage firmly until it has absorbed into skin. For optimal results, allow for absorption before applying other skincare products. Limit initial use to once or twice a week, gradually increasing frequency to nightly as tolerated.
Due to the high concentration of pure retinol in SkinCeuticals products, use a retinol cream only at night to limit photosensitivity and irritation. Always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen during the day when using this product.
When to avoid retinol?
Due to its exfoliating mechanism of action, topical retinol creams may increase skin sensitivity and potential for irritation, especially when used with certain medications or in-office treatments such as chemical peels. As retinol creams can increase photosensitivity, extensive periods of sun exposure are not encouraged. It is especially important to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen while using this product. Vitamin A products like tretinoin and retinol are not recommended during pregnancy. Please consult a physician to determine whether the use of a retinol cream is appropriate for you.
Can retinol help with acne?
To understand how retinol helps reduce blemishes, it is important to understand how acne formation is triggered in the first place. Skin’s pores contain oil glands, which are responsible for producing oil to lubricate the skin and hair. Usually, oil glands produce the right amount of sebum or oil, but they can be overactive at times, resulting in excess sebum production. The combination of excess oil and dead skin cells can cause pores to become clogged, creating the perfect condition for P.acnes bacteria – a bacteria that can contribute to the formation of acne – to become trapped and multiply.
Topical retinol formulations increase cell turnover in skin, ultimately reducing the buildup of dead skin cells. With fewer dead skin cells present on the surface of the skin, it becomes more difficult for pores to clog. Retinol creams work via chemical exfoliation, which may be less abrasive than mechanical exfoliation that involves the use of scrubs.
However, as with any topical skincare products targeting acne, results may take time. It is important that retinol and any other blemish-fighting products are applied as recommended by your skincare professional. It is also essential that a broad spectrum sunscreen is applied daily when using a retinol. Look for non comedogenic, oil free sunscreen formulations that deliver high UVA/UVB protection without clogging pores.
Can I use retinol on my neck?
Yes, but it’s important to use a retinol product that is formulated specifically for this delicate area. A safe yet effective neck cream with retinol should have a lower concentration than a retinol cream for facial use and contain hydrating as well as skin-soothing ingredients.
Why should I use a neck cream with retinol?
Skin on the neck is similar to the skin around the eyes. Thinner and more fragile than facial skin, neck skin is subjected to a high level of movement and can have a weaker barrier due to a naturally lower level of lipids, especially as oil production declines with age. When combined, these factors may contribute to lines that are up to five times deeper than facial wrinkles.
A neck cream with retinol can improve a variety of concerns in this area, including visible signs of neck aging like horizontal lines, loss of skin firmness, and the look of crepiness. A retinol product formulated specifically for the neck can also help address “tech-induced” changes such as visible creasing in younger skin due to prolonged periods of looking down at smartphones or tablet devices.
What can I expect when I start using retinol?
SkinCeuticals face and neck retinol creams are formulated to minimize the irritation that may occur when beginning to use this ingredient, however it’s possible to experience mild tingling, redness, or flaking for up to the first four weeks of use as the skin adapts. To enhance skin tolerance, use these products sparingly and begin by applying every second or third night. Pairing with Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 also helps shorten this adjustment period while reducing dryness. Once the skin does not experience any side effects, you can increase application to every other or every second night, and continue this approach until the skin is comfortable with daily use.