R is for Retinol


For the majority of my 20’s, I have been completely intrigued and almost obsessed with the technology behind anti-aging products, and to this day, I will try anything and everything I can get my paws on. When it comes to reversing the signs of skin aging, Retinol is the industry’s go-to ingredient. It can speed up the skin renewal process, reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots leaving you with firm and more evenly-toned skin. However, with any “too-good-to-be-true” product, there is always a bit of skepticism and a whole lot of questions. Luckily for you, I’m here to help. Now, I’m no doctor or esthetician, so of course, always consult your dermatologist before trying a new product, but this is what I’ve found that works for me.

What is Retinol?

I use Retinol as a general term for both over the counter products and prescription, even though technically, it’s not politically correct. Prescriptions from your dermatologist are generally Retinoid aka Retin-A, a chemical compound related to Vitamin A. Over the counter Retinol is a form of Vitamin A naturally occurring in the skin, and it may take several weeks for your skin to convert Retinol into Retinoic Acid. Over the counter, Vitamin A isn’t as strong as a prescription but you can achieve the same results, it just takes a little longer. Although prescription works faster, irritation is more likely to occur.

The retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are vitamers of vitamin A or are chemically related to it. Retinoids have found use in medicine where they regulate epithelial cell growth. Topical retinoids such as prescribed tretinoin, are used to treat acne and early signs of aging.

What it’s for:

Retinoids can boost collagen to soften lines; increase cell turnover; dissolve oil to make pores appear tighter and smoother decreasing clogging; and can gradually even skin tone and fade dark spots.

More about it:

  • When starting out with a new Retinol or Retinoid formula, the recommended dosage is generally once to twice a week depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Retinoids can cause dry or flaky skin (I usually peel for the first two weeks of use), but once your skin adjusts, it is okay to up the amount of usage.
  • It is also recommended that you only use at night before bed. Retinoid, itself, is sensitive to light, so it is most effective in the dark while you sleep.
  • Always apply an SPF (clean, non-toxic, 30 or higher).
  • Good news! These products are affordable! Insurance coverage of a prescription retinoid, varies by plan, but a 20-gram tube will generally cost about $75, while generic tretinoin costs about $40. You can also buy similar products over-the-counter or online but they will vary in strength.
  • Don’t use a retinoid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Benzoyl peroxide can deactivate retinoids, so don’t use them together.
  • Don’t use Retinol a few days prior to getting waxed as it can cause excess redness and irritation.
  • If you want better results, apply it to wet skin. Note that this may cause irritation.
  • Vitamin C is great to use in the morning. Repeated topical use of both retinol and vitamin C may lessen signs of aging.

Shop my favorite over-the-counter products:

retata harperamarteskin medica

Shani Darden Retinol Reform, $95 | Tata Harper Retinoic Face Oil, $125

Amarte Wonder Cream, $120 | Skin Medica Age Defense Retinol Complex .25, $62



2 thoughts on “R is for Retinol

  1. Pingback: My Day & Night Time Skincare Routine |

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