Retinol - Why Is It So Important?

Retinol - Why Is It So Important?

While some women are content with their skin care routine, others are looking for solutions to the aging process. I talk with lots of women who know about the basics of skincare but don't realize that they can benefit of one of the most powerful ingredients for anti-aging, retinol. Retinol used to be available only from a dermatologist but it has recently become available over-the-counter.

Women are becoming smarter about their skin care. They listen to TV ads, they read magazines, and they talk to doctors and people who are knowledgeable about the issues that trouble them. This is probably why you are reading this now. You want to KNOW about skin care and how to deal with skin problems. Good for you. Well, read on. I will help you know the basics about retinol and how it can help you.

What is retinol?

It is a powerful antioxidant derived from naturally occurring vitamin A. It comes in a variety of forms for various ailments. Retinoic acid (Tretinoin) is an excellent topical cream for acne and keratosis pilaris. For severe acne, one can use isotretinoin (Accutane, Roaccutane). Other retinoics are Differin (adapalene) and Tazorac (tazarotene). I don't pretend to have a medical degree so I won't deal with these treatments beyond a mention. See your dermatologist for more information.

What does retinol do?

It protects your skin against damage from free radicals. These pesky molecules, the free radicals, are determined to destroy your cells. So retinol helps to slow or stop this process. It also stimulates collagen production. Collagen is what provides the strength for your skin. Collagen creams won't do the trick because they sit on the surface of your skin and have very little absorption. This is why you need retinol which goes into the lower cells of the epidermis and causes more collagen to form. This helps your skin become stronger and firmer. Do you have trouble with sagging skin and loss of firmness? Retinol will help.

Retinol also helps exfoliation of dead skin cells to lighten the skin and make it smoother. And the best part of all...retinol helps stimulate new cell production bringing younger, healthier cells to the surface. This promotes cell turnover and is the workhorse of the anti-aging routine.

It is also good for skin discolorations because of the exfoliation of discolored cells and origin of new cells. If you are troubled with age spots and discoloration, retinol might be able to help. It depends on how deep the discoloration is. If it is in the dermis, then retinol won't go past the epidermis. Talk to your dermatologist if you have tried several months of retinol with no visible effect on the pigmented areas. They can help.

What are the side effects?

There may be persistent dryness, flaky skin, and sun sensitivity. You may have to use this for 2-3 months before your skin becomes adapted to the ingredients. Try using it once a week or every other day at first until your skin becomes used to it. Then increase the frequency until you can use it every day. If the problem becomes progressively worse, then see your doctor.

When should I use retinol?

This should be used DAILY and at night. Sunlight deactivates retinol. Be sure you are using a sunscreen if you go out during the day while wearing products containing retinol.

Your suggested skin care routine at night should be: 

  • cleanse
  • tone
  • retinol
  • moisturize. 

Where can I get retinol?

Cosmetics have greatly changed since the development of over-the-counter retinol. You will find lots of cosmetic companies who market their retinol products. Some are better than others. Go with a reputable company with years of development and research. Do your research. Don't order retinol products from ads in the magazine (you know the companies who you haven't heard of their name but they say they have the "miracle" anti-aging product). Don't fall for their marketing hype. Look them up on the internet. Find out how long they have been in business. Do they allow you to test the product before buying? Do they have a 100% money-back guarantee? Do they provide you with personal consultation? Just be careful and stick with the known cosmetics companies.

Try using an over-the-counter retinol product first for several months to see if you notice a visible difference in your skin. You should notice a more youthful appearance in the skin in this amount of time. Of course, you can purchase your retinol from a dermatologist but you might have to pay more for it. As mentioned above, if you have some of the dermatology pathologies such as severe acne, then by all means use the dermatologist prescribed retinol. But for mild skin issues, investigate a cosmetic product with retinol FIRST from a reputable cosmetic company. You will be amazed at how youthful your skin.

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