Using Retinol 101
You’ve heard of retinol as a skin care revolution, but is it right for your skin? This compound, also known as Vitamin A, is added to skin creams and potions as an anti-aging miracle, with beauty-boosting properties that range from unclogging pores to boosting collagen and reducing fine lines to evening discoloring and smoothing skin. Read on to learn more about whether you should use retinol and how to find the right product for you.
Experts say that retinol is the single most important skin care ingredient to combat the effects of aging. However, although it really works, it may take time for you to see a dramatic effect. Retinol is best used as a long-term method to protect the youthful look and feel of your skin, not as a fast fix measure to hide damage that has already occurred. Most dermatologists recommend that women start using retinol in their 30s, and definitely by the time they hit 40, for maximum protection against the effects of aging.
While the strongest forms of retinol are available only with a prescription, you should first test out an over-the-counter version to see if you like the results. Look for brands that specifically list retinol high in the ingredient list, as related compounds may be less effective.
Start off by using a small amount of retinol at night in conjunction with a moisturizer to see how your skin responds. Because retinol increases skin cell turnover, some users may experience redness and stinging, particularly with frequent use. If you have sensitive skin, start out slow and discontinue use of this product if you experience irritation or discomfort. These symptoms are more likely to occur with the prescription form of retinol.
An important caution, particularly for those who begin using retinol products in their 20s, is that the compound can actually thin skin over time. This makes you more susceptible to the effects of sun damage, which is not only dangerous but will counteract any anti-aging effects you’ve gained from use of the product. Make sure to always wear SPF on your face, especially if you’re using retinol products.