If you are looking for a time-tested, all purpose anti aging product, one of the first things you should try is a retinol cream. Retinol is one of the few active ingredients on the market that is actually shown to improve the appearance of fine lines in most individuals. It exfoliates the skin and stimulates skin cell growth, as well as causing collagen to form in the deeper layers of skin. It can also treat acne and hyperpigmentation and reduce the appearance of large pores. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A, known as a retinoid. These retinoids are converted into retinoic acid by the skin. Retinoic acid, also known as tretinoin, is the active ingredient in the prescription wrinkle fighters Retin-A and Renova. Other retinoids, like Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Actate, work in similar ways and are often found along with retinol in Vitamin A products.
Retinol is a very strong chemical that can cause irritation, commonly seen as redness and flaking . It may be better to start out with a retinol cream before trying Retin A because it can take time for your skin to adjust. You can also move up to a retinol serum, which often contain higher percentages of retinoids. If you have sensitive skin, look for a mild retinol product and start by applying it every 3 or 4 days. Retinol creams have an exfoliating effect, so avoid using other types of exfoliation like microdermabrasion or alpha hydroxy acids in the beginning. Retinol causes your skin to become sensitive to the sun similar to AHAs, so you absolutely must use a sunscreen.
Some people never adjust to retinol. If you are experiencing a reaction no matter how conservatively you use the products, you should discontinue use.
Apply the cream in the evening so it doesn’t react with the sun. Use it on a freshly washed face, but wait a few minutes so that your skin is entirely dry.
Retinol creams work well with other ingredients. You’ll often find retinol along with exfoliators like AHA’s and other actives like Vitamins C and E. Once you have gotten used to the cream, you can begin reintroducing other exfoliation into your routine. Exfoliation like microdermabrasion helps retinol better penetrate the skin, making it more effective. You can use also a retinol cream along with serums that contain other active ingredients, like Vitamin C or peptides.
Eventually, you will want to work your way up to certain strengths of retinol. Many starter creams contain around .15% retinol. Some products are labeled with the percentage. Look for something that contains .5% retinol as your first step up. Some people may even be able to start at the concentration without irritation. Products that contain 1% and 1.5% are very effective, but are too strong to start out with. You may wish to try a serum to get this strength.
Retinol, along with other retinoids, are known to cause birth defects. Do not use while pregnant.
If you are already using the strong retinol products but still seeing aging progress, it may be time to switch to a prescription product. Retin A and Renova do not need to be converted by the skin to become active. If those options are too irritating for you, try products containing retinaldehyde, also known as retinal. This retinoid is easier to convert than retinol, but is usually much more expensive.
A retinol cream is a great place to start when adding Vitamin A retinoids to your skin care regimen. They are usually mild and very moisturizing. Be sure to use sunscreen while using retinol and do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding.