When You First Try Retinol
Retinol isn't a miracle cure for acne or wrinkles, and you'll need patience when you first use it. That's because it can cause reddening and peeling of the skin and temporarily worsen the appearance of acne blemishes. This is what happens when the retinol exfoliates, or removes, the dead top layer of the skin on your face. If you have eczema, exfoliants like retinol, salicylic acid and glycolic acid might be too harsh for your skin. In that case, there are mild exfoliating scrubs that can do the job.
What Else Does Retinol Do?
In addition to exfoliating dead skin, retinol stimulates collagen and elastin production. Elastin is a protein that, together with collagen, helps skin retain its shape and stay firm. This firmness helps minimize the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The UVA and UVB rays from the sun weaken collagen and elastin, and this breaking down of the underlying structure of the skin can make you look older. In addition to its firming properties, retinol stimulates the production of new skin cells, and that can give your face a healthy glow after dead skin cells are removed.
When Should You Use It?
One characteristic of retinol is that it makes your skin more sensitive to the rays of the sun. Because of this, it's best to apply it at night since you won't be going outdoors for several hours. Another factor is that in the evening when you sleep, it's a time for your body to rest and repair, building new cells for the skin and other organs. Retinol degrades on contact with light, so it will help you the most if you don't expose your face to sunlight after application. You should always wear sunscreen when you go outside if you're using retinol rain or shine.
Retinol Acne Treatment
When acne doesn't respond to classic treatment with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, retinol is an option that can help. When retinol exfoliates your skin, it removes the oil and dead skin cells that clog the pores. It can also decrease the growth of acne-causing bacteria and lessen the inflammation it causes. Severe acne is sometimes treated with a prescription strength Vitamin A retinoid called tretinoin that's marketed as Retin-A or Renova.
Retinol to Reduce Wrinkles
If you're using retinol to minimize wrinkles and fine lines on your face, it can take up to six months before results are noticeable. The best results can take as long as a year to appear. Regeneration of collagen and elastin is a gradual process but, in the meantime, you'll experience glowing, healthy-looking skin. Retinol, and especially prescription strength tretinoin, can fade age spots and reduce a precancerous skin condition called actinic keratosis. These vitamin A compounds can also stimulate blood flow and improve the texture of the skin. The effects vary among individuals, and some people have experienced remarkable results after faithfully applying them every night for months.
The use of retinol or prescription strength tretinoin in any other way than described here is not recommended. You may see cosmetic products that list retinol as an ingredient, but including it is a mistake on the part of the manufacturer. Retinol in lipsticks and sunscreens won't help skin because it will be deactivated when it comes in contact with the sun. In the meantime, because it makes the skin sensitive, it could actually cause skin damage. And retinol in facial cleansers doesn't stay on the skin long enough to have any effect. Finally, retinol isn't recommended for pregnant women in any form.
Your Retinol Purchase
When you decide to try retinol, be sure and look for a brand that's properly packaged to protect it from being deactivated by sunlight. An opaque or darkened container is best, and the product should be expressed from it in small amounts to prevent air from entering. Retinol will work better with other skin nourishing ingredients than alone. When combined with vitamin C and a moisturizing agent like hyaluronic acid, it will be less drying, and you'll be getting a treatment that helps your skin in many ways. Combinations like these are often called serums, and they're your best option.