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Skincare Spotlight: Your Guide to Retinol

Retinols have really taken off in the last few years as more about how effective they becomes more generally known. While they’re not entirely new, when you hear other people raging about them they can almost feel like a new discovery. Retinol is a powerful way of reducing fine lines and wrinkles, helping to clear acne, stimulating the production of collagen, combating skin-damaging free-radicals and helping to exfoliate. We’re sure you’ll agree that’s quite the combination of skin-enhancing products.

However, and there's always a caveat, although they’re hailed as somewhat of a miracle ingredient, retinols aren’t everyone’s best friend. We urge caution for those that suffer with psoriasis, rosacea or eczema, as it increases oxygen flow which may heighten inflammation in the skin, you may want to read our tips on what to do if you suffer from inflammation, of course, always reading the ingredients and warnings for your particular concerns.

What to look for in a retinol product

You’ll want a product where there is a good concentration of retinol, however it’s all about how much is included. Cosmetic based retinols tend to have higher concentrations than prescription-based retinols but this can be misleading as the retinols included in cosmetics will need to be converted into retinoic acid that the skin is actually able to absorb. Prescription retinols are known as retin-A which is  a very strong form of retinol whilst retinol is what you will see stocked on shop shelves and online.

What are retinols?

Retinols are vitamin A and you can think of vitamin A as your skin’s favorite food. As well as applying topically, vitamin A can also be found in foods such as leafy greens, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin A plays a key role in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing skin tone. Retinols also increase cell production leading to increased collagen production within your skin leading to plumper, smoother and more youthful-looking skin.

When should I use a retinol?

If you’ve never used a retinol before, introduce one into your regimen slowly, once-a-week to begin with, retinols are powerful and effective but they may cause some dryness. By slowly increasing how much you use you’ll allow your body to get used it slowly. Apply a small about before bed once a week build this up to two and then three times a week. If you have complications with bad skin then a retinol is ideal. Retinols are generally only effective for roughly three months at a time, this is due to a dramatic slow down or even stoppage of the cell turnover from the retinol. As such, it is generally recommended to use a retinol for a period of roughly three months, stop for three months and then start again for thee months.

If you pick up a retinol you’ll find that it’s kept in non-see through packaging. This is to reduce its exposure to UV light sources such as the sun as UV light can break down a retinol making it much less proactive in enhancing your skin complexion and tone. Retinols can certainly be applied in the morning before you head out, however, this is why we recommend with a strong sunscreen of SPF-30 or above.

Is a retinol right for me?

A retinol is a general-purpose skincare product, suitable for most skin types. As they can cause some dryness, we recommend using them sparingly at first. It’s also a good idea to combine them with a moisturizer, such as Skin Chemists Wild Caviar Facial Moisturizer to ensure you are replenishing the moisture within your skin. We love Skin Pharmacy's Retinol Skin Repair Serum as its active ingredient is absorbed into the skin over time, enabling it to work for longer.

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