It’s safe to say that anti-ageing and anti-acne could very well be two of the most popular skincare categories at most stores. Now that micro-ageing is a real thing and fine lines start to crop up as soon as you hit the 30s, along with adult acne, it’s even more important to introduce the right kind of skincare to your routine. Enter magic ingredient: retinol. This potent skincare ingredient is used for a number of concerns which include fine lines, wrinkles, acne and pigmentation. While the benefits are many, it’s important that you introduce retinol to your routine under dermatologist supervision. Dr Gauri Desai, dermatologist and co-founder of Skinsense Mumbai gives us insight on everything you need to know about retinol.
What is retinol and what are its uses in skincare?
Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, which is used for skin rejuvenation and reducing the signs of aging in skin. Retinoids is a term used to refer to a group of Vitamin A derivatives which are used orally or topically (local application) for a number of skin conditions. Of these, Retinol and Retinaldehyde are available over-the-counter (OTC) as they are milder and have slower action. When applied to the skin, Retinol is converted to Retinoic Acid by skin enzymes. Retinoic Acid is the active compound which helps in reducing the signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, patchy discolouration and roughness. However, this conversion can take very long, sometimes as long as 3 – 6 months. So, the results are seen after a long time. However, the side effects, like redness, irritation and peeling, are also less. Other Retinoids available are Tretinoin (Retinoic acid), Adapalene and Tazarotene. These are prescription drugs as they are stronger and are associated with more redness, peeling and irritation, requiring supervision by a doctor. The results of these are faster and more dramatic than Retinols or Retinaldehydes.
Which skin types and age groups does retinol suit? Which skin concerns is it ideal for?
Retinoids can be used by all skin types. However, oily and combination skins tolerate them better—dry and sensitive skins require more caution. Retinoids reduce the oiliness in skin and can be used in a gel-based formulation for oily skin types. Dry skin will require cream-based formulations of lower concentration. They are used to treat acne and reduce oiliness and also to reduce the signs of aging. They act by increasing the rate of cell renewal, promoting collagen formation and reducing pigmented cells in the skin. These result in an improvement in the quality of the skin, making it plumper, smoother and even-toned.
What are the precautions one must take before introducing retinol in their skincare routine? What is the best way to incorporate it in your routine?
All skin types have to take proper precautions against sun-exposure while using retinoids. Dry and sensitive skin types have to use moisturisers regularly to keep the skin healthy. The action of retinoids on skin results in redness, peeling and irritable skin. To reduce these, you should start slowly and use small amounts for a short period of application at night rather than leaving the creams for overnight application to begin with. One can begin with application twice a week, 3-4 days apart. After about 2-3 weeks, if this is tolerated well, the use can be increased to alternate nights. Thereafter it can be further increased to every night after another 2-4 weeks. Getting used to the creams may take a few weeks or a couple of months, but the process should not be hurried as an increase in side-effects will call for discontinuation of use. The whole process will then have to be started all over again. These products need to be applied for a very long time. Very dry and sensitive skin may need a twice weekly or alternate day regime for many months.
How does one use retinol, how does it really work?
All retinoid products are not created equal and some supervision may be required. Every person may react differently, so it is better to start conservatively and seek professional advice when you plan to do so. Using retinol products religiously and in the right manner can show great results.
Here are our classic, all-time favourite retinol products:
Roc Pro-Correct Anti-Wrinkle Rejuvenating Concentrate, Rs 2,800 approx
Avene Eluage Cream, Rs 1200 approx
Sun Pharma Yugard Anti-Ageing Cream, Rs 975