Retinol has been hailed the miracle anti-ager both beauty editors and consumers can’t get enough of. As a concentrated form of vitamin A, it boasts benefits ranging from evening skin tone to restoring fine lines and wrinkles. But as a powerful and active ingredient, it is important to understand what it is doing for your skin and whether or not it’s right for you. We spoke to Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice to get the lowdown on skin care’s buzziest ingredient.
What is it?
“Retinol is a well-known skin-restoring ingredient [with a] reputation that is supported by over 50 years of research,” says Begoun. “It is present in naturally healthy, young skin…[and when applied topically it] teaches cells how to function like they did when they were younger.”
What is it good for?
Begoun describes retinol as a “generalist” ingredient. This means it can improve “skin tone, texture, firmness, pore size, breakouts, wrinkles and various types of discolourations.” However, how much and how often it is used is crucial. “As a rule, higher strengths of retinol are better for more difficult skin problems like acne or advanced sun damage and ageing. Lower strengths are more preventative.”
What kind of product should I use?
Always try and choose products based on your skin type,” explains Begoun. “This means use creamy textures if you have dry skin, lotions or serums for normal to combination skin, and fluids or gels for oily or congested skin.” While as little as 0.01% retinol can still produce visible benefits (products go up to about 2%), there’s no one-size-fits-all rule. “It all depends on your skin type, concerns and how you individually respond to the ingredient.”
If you’re in your 40s or 50s and have advanced sun damage or deep wrinkles, a higher strength is likely to way to go, says Begoun. However if you’re in your early 30s, a lower percentage would be sufficient.
How often should I be using it?
Adding a step to your nightly routine is the recommended way to incorporate a retinol product. While it is fine to use in the day, it is an air and light sensitive ingredient that means in daytime it may be less effective. “Start out slowly by applying once every three days to see how your skin responds. If it responds well, increase frequency as desired.”
A few crucial things to know about retinol: firstly, when selecting a product ensure it is in opaque, airtight packaging. As the ingredient is sensitive to air and light it may be ineffective if it is in clear packaging. Secondly, it is crucial to introduce a broad spectrum sunscreen when using retinol. Due to the ingredient being active it can cause initial skin sensitivity and as a result increase the effects of the sun.
bh loves: Paula’s Choice Resist 1% Retinol Booster, philosophy help me retinol night treatment, Skin Republic Retinol Hydrogel Face Mask, Dermalogica Age Smart Overnight Retinol Repair, Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum
Have you used a retinol product before? What is your favourite?