If you are even slightly into skincare you have already heard about this miraculous beauty ingredient that promises the Benjamin Button effect on your skin. Yes, I am talking about the famed Retinoid. Skin issues ranging from acne to ageing, there is a Retinoid for it!
A derivative of vitamin A, Retinoids have been a heavy weight in the skincare world since the 1950s. Initially Retinoid formulas were used to treat acne, but as the Retinoid-user’s skin began to age, and age quite gracefully; the derms realized Retinoids could treat visible signs of aging along with acne.
Retin based skincare products are worth knowing because of their proven ability to increase blood circulation in skin, fight acne, reduce wrinkles, increase cell turnover, boost collagen and help even out the skin tone. So here are some FAQs for those of you who would like to start on the path of Retinoids.
Q: Retinoid, what is that?
A: Retinoid is an umbrella term for all vitamin-A derivatives, Retinol is one of them. Retinoids are known to help unclog pores, boost collagen to reduce fine lines, and speed cell turnover to even out discoloration and smoothen the skin in a relatively short period of time.
Q: What is the difference between Retinoids & Retinol?
A: Retinoids is the generic term, as I mentioned above. Retinols are a sub-category of Retinoids. But in beauty & skincare language when someone says Retinoids they are most often referring to a prescription-strength topical application. Retinol, on the other hand, can be found in many over the counter skin care products. So basically these aren’t as strong as Retinoid and therefore you don’t need a prescription to buy them.
Q: How does Retinol work? How is it different from Retinoid?
A: When Retinol is topically applied to the skin, enzymes work to convert it into Retinoic Acid; which is proven to improve fine lines, skin discoloration, and helps revitalize the skin. The process of converting Retinol into Retinoic Acid can take a few weeks. In fact it could take up to 3 to 6 months of daily use for Retinol based products to see a noticeable difference.
Retinoids on the other hand are a lot stronger than Retinol. It also has a more immediate effect because it is formulated as Retinoic Acid; unlike Retinols, no conversion by the body is required. Many Retinoid users claim to experience improvements in as little as 4-8 weeks.
Q: So which one should you use?
A: Every one has a unique skin type and skin concerns so it depends. If you don’t have any major skin concern but are looking to improve skin texture an over the counter Retinol product can help. But if they prove to be ineffective or you have some frustrating skin issue, consider a prescription based Retinoid. This can be explored only under a dermatologist’s guidance.
Things you should know before using a Retinoid/ Retinol product:
- Start slowly: Start with a lower strength and apply every other day instead of everyday to see how your skin reacts. Retinoids can cause dryness, redness, and flaking—but if you ease in, you can avoid a drastic transition. Eventually based on your skin’s reaction / if required you can graduate to a stronger formula.
- Packaging matters: Vitamin A deteriorates when exposed to air and light. Buy a Retinol product that is packaged in an opaque container that eliminates or minimizes exposure to air and light ie. avoid jars
- You still need sunscreen: If you aren’t good with sun protection, even the most effective, anti-aging ingredients won’t be able to deliver the results you want.
- Avoid skincare routine consisting of retinol-only products: As great as retinol is for all skin types, everyone’s skin needs more than just one great ingredient to sustain. Its like diet, you can’t just always consume one vitamin rich food, you need to support it with other food groups. Same is true for the skin: It needs a mix of beneficial ingredients to look the best.
- Dont use Retinoids: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding / if your skincare regimen has products with Benzoyl Peroxide and Alpha Hydroxy Acids as these deactivate the Retinoids / before waxing the skin as waxing can cause redness and irritation on Retinoid treated skin.
Marketing and scientific research may insist and often guarantee miraculous and quick results, but its important to bear in mind that it is not going to be miraculous after all! Skincare will need commitment and a careful understanding of your skin so don’t get swayed by the latest and greatest.
Here are some more ingredients that you need to be aware of.
What is your experience with Retinoids/ Retinol for skincare? Let me know in the comments below.