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Retinol- what’s it going to do for me?

Retinol – What’s it going to do for me?

You’ve heard it before — adding a retinol to your skincare regimen can improve skin health and help you maintain a bonny glow. Maybe, like yours truly, you tried it and ended up with dry, sloughing skin instead of the smooth, supple outcome you had hoped for (note to self – facial dandruff is a thing so 

avoid applying retinols to the face’s more delicate skin zones, like eyelids, nostrils and lips). While flaking is the most common side effect of a new retinol routine, it is one that quickly subsides after one- to-two weeks, giving way to the outcomes promised by skincare providers. And those outcomes are impressive —  topical retinoids boost collagen, which helps plump the skin to reduce fine lines. They also help with mottled colouring by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels in the skin to even out skin tone and they help reverse the effects of photoaging (the long term effects of sun exposure — you’ll know it when you see it and want to strangle your younger, reckless, sun-loving self. Apply retinol instead). Sun damage, by the way, is generally accepted by medical professionals in this field as the most influential of the aging process — genes and mechanical stress (repeated muscle movements that create wrinkles and skin laxity) being other main contributors.

Retinol is an over-the-counter retinoid — a class of chemical compounds derived from Vitamin A. If you’re worried about unknowns, rest assured that they’ve been studied intensely and used successfully as part of anti-aging skin care solutions for decades. They’re popular because when used topically over the long term they really do help to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, reduce pigmentation, treat acne and they can even help prevent precancerous lesions. That’s a lot of punch for one little cream, which can — and should — be used with a moisturizer (first apply a small, pea-sized layer of retinol, followed by a moisturizer). As for when to start using a retinol, physicians recommend starting in your mid-to-late twenties, though it’s not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

While prescription retinoids are available through your physician, and over-the-counter retinols can be found in many drug store products, most medical aesthetic clinics carry medical grade retinols of various strengths. Talk to your Derma Spa skin care provider to establish what strength of retinol will work best for you, and to establish a long-term plan that adjusts for increases in potency as skin tolerates it for best outcomes.  Intro retinoids we love at Derma Spa include: Skin Medica 0.25 and the ZO Wrinkle and Texture Repair, pair either of these with the beautiful HA5, and prepare to have your life changed.

For practical tips on the application of retinoids, see Dr. Kailey Winton’s blog here.