Retinol is a type of anti-aging ingredient derived from vitamin A. It was first developed in the 70s as an acne-fighting drug. Eventually, retinol has been used to treat a wide range of skin issues including warts, psoriasis, damaged skin, and yes, aged, wrinkly skin. Regular application of retinol will even out the skin tone, refine the skin texture and even reduce wrinkles.
How Retinol Works
The body replaces dead skin cells at a much slower rate. This leads to blotchy, dry and dull skin. The slower speed of cell turnover could also lead to wrinkles over time. Retinol works by boosting the skin cell turnover. As dead skin cells are shed, retinol makes way for new skin cells to grow. The nutrient reduces collagen breakdown. It also thickens the deeper layers of the skin to prevent the onset of wrinkles. Retinol also fades out blemishes, dark spots and age spots. It can also even out the skin tone by preventing hyperpigmentation.
Most retinol users feel that the drug “thins out” the skin, but it does the exact opposite. Using retinol, the skin will become sensitive and inflamed during the first few days. But as the skin gets used to the drug, the inflammation goes down.
Types of Retinol
There are two types of retinol: non-prescription or over-the-counter retinol and prescription retinol.
Non-prescription retinol is milder than prescription retinol. Because retinol can cause skin sensitivity and inflammation, users need to build resistance to the drug. Using creams with mild retinol is the best way to start being used to the drug.
Also, unlike prescription retinol, over-the-counter retinol’s retinoic acid changes when it’s applied on the skin. Milder concentration of retinol can help smooth out wrinkles and refine the skin, but it will take much longer time before users can see or feel any difference on their skin.
As you might’ve guessed, prescription retinol is the more potent, concentrated type of retinol. Usually, prescription retinol is over 100 times more concentrated than non-prescription retinol. This product is stronger to fight deep wrinkles and more potent to prevent collagen breakdown. Prescription retinol is best for individuals that no longer respond to over-the-counter retinol.
How to Choose the Best Retinol Products for You
For beginners, start with an over-the-counter retinoid cream. Non-prescription retinol is less irritating because of the low level of retinoic acid. It will take more than 12 weeks before you notice any difference on your skin.
We recommend looking for products with at least 0.1% of retinol. Go for products packed in aluminum tubes. The packaging is just as important. Because retinol reacts with oxygen exposure, the product should be encased in an aluminum tube to retain potency.
If say, you are finally ready to take prescription retinol, consult your dermatologist about it. If your dermatologist recommends a higher dose of retinol, he will give you a prescription for it.
Prescription retinol usually comes in various formulas: gel, cream, etc. Choose which works according your skin. If you have dry skin, go for cream retinol. If you have oily skin, opt for gel-type retinol.
Because prescription retinol is more powerful than over-the-counter retinol, expect the usual discomforts associated with this product as you use it. You can reduce irritation and redness by applying the product twice per week. Once the skin gets used to the product, you can increase the frequency of application to every day.