Retinol is lauded as a highly efficacious skincare ingredient with a compelling list of benefits. Learn more about retinol for skin to harness its benefits in your skincare routine
Frequently asked questions about retinol
What is retinol?
Retinol is a retinoid – a Vitamin A derivative can enhance skin cell renewal. This fast-tracked regeneration cycle can lead to a cascade of skin benefits, from skin brightening to anti-ageing to assisting acne-prone skin. Alongside their ability to accelerate skin cell turnover, topical retinoids are antioxidants, which can brighten dark spots and plump wrinkles over time.
What are the benefits of retinol for skin?
Retinol encourages the skin to renew at an accelerated pace, resulting in fresher, smoother looking skin over time. Topical retinoids require regular and consistent use to unlock their benefits. Here are some of the benefits of using retinol:
- Anti-wrinkle: Thanks to its ability to enhance skin cell turnover and help stimulate collagen production, retinol can help smooth wrinkles and minimise the appearance of lines.
- Brightening: Retinol is an antioxidant, meaning it can fight free radicals which contribute to visible skin ageing and pigmentation. This helps to reduce the appearance of skin pigmentation such as acne scars and age spots and create a brighter, more even looking complexion. Regulating acne-prone skin: Retinol works on both the surface and deeper layers of the skin to discourage pimples from forming and encourage a faster recovery process.
- You can implement the benefits of using retinol in the serum stage of your skincare regime with the CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum. This serum combines encapsulated retinol with the skin loving properties of ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Alternatively, you can introduce retinol in a night cream formula with our Skin Renewing Night Cream, infused with acetyl tetrapeptide-9 to help promote collagen synthesis and niacinamide to help soothe the skin.
Is Vitamin A the same as retinol?
Yes – retinol is classed as a retinoid, which is a synthetic form of Vitamin A. All retinoids are derived from Vitamin A.
Does retinol work?
Retinoids like retinol are known to impact cellular regeneration and these effects have been widely studied. However, the results of retinol for skin aren’t instantaneous – it takes time and consistent use to see skin changes. We recommend abiding by the 1-2-3 rule: apply retinol once a week for one week, twice a week for two weeks, three times for three weeks, then progress to every second night if you are not experiencing side effects. If you notice flaking, redness or sensitivity, reduce frequency of application for a week to allow your skin to adjust.
Is retinol an exfoliant?
Retinol is not an exfoliant. In fact, regular retinol use can lead to enhanced skin cell turnover and cause dead skin to build up. You can pair your retinol use with a chemical exfoliant like our SA Smoothing Cleanser which contains salicylic acid to gently soften and smooth away dead skin cells. Use the SA Smoothing Cleanser in the morning and retinol at night. Always accompany with sunscreen during the day.
What retinol percentage is good to use for beginners?
It’s best to commence retinol use with a low percentage of around 0.25%. Retinol typically comes in strengths of 1%, 0.5%, 0.3% and 0.25%. Encapsulated retinol is also an effective option for beginners, as the retinol is delivered in a carrier system with controlled release.
Is retinol supposed to make your skin peel?Skin peeling can be a common side effect of retinol use. This is a by-product of retinol’s ability to stimulate skin cell turnover and can be managed by keeping your skin hydrated with moisturisers, particularly those containing skin moisture barrier protecting ingredients like ceramides. For more dry, itchy-prone or scaly skin advice, read our guide to dry skin. For peeling skin, decrease frequency of retinol use.
Can I use retinol every day?
Retinol can be used every day, but the skin needs to be acclimatised with gradual use for new users. You should apply retinol at night as it can make skin more sensitive to the sun.
Who should not use retinol?
Retinol use is not recommended for those pregnant or breastfeeding. It’s best to avoid retinoids altogether during this time and you can safely continue retinol use once you are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding. Seek medical advice for your individual circumstances if unsure.
Which retinol is best for beginners?
Retinol beginners can opt for a topical retinoid with a low percentage of around 0.25% to minimise the chance of irritation, and look for encapsulated retinol for slower retinol delivery. Retinol can be used once per week to introduce the skin to the ingredient and allow the skin time to adjust.
At what age should you start using retinol?
25 is a suitable age to commence using retinol for skin. This is around the age that elastin production begins to decrease - elastin and collagen together are responsible for the skin’s bounce and firmness. With age, the levels of these proteins decrease and fine lines may start to form from age 25. Retinol use can help to counteract these visible signs of ageing.
Who should use retinol?
Anyone who is not currently pregnant, or breastfeeding can use retinol. If you have:
- Ageing skin with fine lines or wrinkles
- Skin prone to mild acne
- Hyperpigmentation from acne scarring
- Age spots
These skin manifestations are ideal for retinol use. However, any skin type can introduce retinol for its firming, skin renewing characteristics.
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