Retinol – it’s the world’s most talked about skincare ingredient – a hero skin treatment that dermatologists swear by, and arguably the beauty industry’s most successful over-the-counter anti-ageing solution.
And yet there are still so. many. questions:
How does Retinol work?
What is the best Retinol cream for my skin type?
Does Retinol actually work?
In a word: Yes. But we won’t stop there.
We put your FAQ to Consultant Dermatologist Dr Andrew C Markey MD FRCP. Here is everything (else) you need to know about Retinol:
Retinoids are all derivatives of vitamin A – the first (and best known) being a Retinoic Acid called Tretinoin (also known as Retin-A). Introduced as an anti-acne treatment, dermatologists noticed that Tretinoin not only made acne-prone skin clearer, but that patients’ complexions looked brighter and smoother too.
Retinol is the name given to the most popular over-the-counter Retinoid – proven to induce similar results as Retinoic Acid, albeit over a longer period.
How? Once absorbed by skin, Retinol gradually converts into Retinoic Acid – the same hero ingredient that’s in prescription creams.
Retinol is suitable for all skin types and can be used by almost everyone – if applied correctly – whether used ad hoc or within your evening skincare routine.
Great news if you’ve ever wondered which Retinol is best for acne scars and wrinkles. Yes, this game-changing, dermatologist-approved ingredient reigns supreme as:
Best for anti-ageing
Stimulates collagen production and improves skin elasticity
Smoothes fine lines and wrinkles
Minimises new wrinkles
Best for pigmentation/sun damaged skin
Encourages cell turnover
Evens out hyperpigmentation
Helps fade dark spots
Best for acne, acne scars and acne-prone skin
Smooths skin texture
Evens out complexion
Best for dull skin (see also: vitamin C – an ideal skincare sidekick)
Evens out skin tone
"Most dermatologists recommend that patients stop retinoid creams one week before and restart one week after traumatic treatments to the skin (i.e. waxing, laser and medical microneedling where needles are used intentionally to cause pinpoint bleeding)," says Dr Markey.
"If you are using very short needles, as part of a home regime, then do a test patch with the roller to check that your skin is okay with the combination and just be a little careful at first. Obviously, applying any product immediately after dermarolling may increase absorption which can be a good thing, or increase risk of irritation."
Depending on how much - and how often – scientific studies show Retinol can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation after just 12 weeks of use.
**Don't use Retinols f you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are already using a prescription Keratolytic from your dermatologist. Speak to a dermatologist if you are worried about any side effects of using Retinol.**
Reviewed by Consultant Dermatologist Dr Andrew C Markey MD FRCP