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Understanding Skincare Ingredients: Retinol

Smiling woman touching skin

Skincare is something that should be taken seriously, not just because of vanity, but because of health reasons. Remember that your skin is your body’s largest organ, and deserves just as much attention as any other part. This is why you should take extra care in choosing the products that you use to enhance your skin’s appearance, considering that they have a long list of ingredients that promise to make your skin healthier and younger. However, some of the effects of these ingredients could only be temporary, with the long term effects often more harmful. This makes it even more important to have further knowledge about each of the active ingredients present in the skincare products you choose.

Understanding Skincare Ingredients: Retinol

What is Retinol?

One of the most common ingredients that you will see in skincare products, especially the ones that fight premature aging, is retinol. Considered as the purest form of Vitamin A, it is part of a group of substances called retinoid, which holds an important role in the development of cells. As a form of Vitamin A, it contains several properties that make it potent and effective in keeping your skin as young as possible.

Understanding Skincare Ingredients: Retinol

What Makes Retinol Effective?

Retinol works in so many ways to keep your skin looking young and healthy. These are some properties that retinol has that make it highly recommended for anti-aging skincare:

  • Retinol as an Antioxidant. Retinol is known as a very potent antioxidant. Basically, antioxidants fight against what we call free radicals, unstable molecules that attack healthy skin cells. Free radicals usually come from having too much exposure to the sun and are seen to be the primary suspects in making the visible signs of aging appear sooner than expected. Based on studies, free radicals may also be one of the primary causes of cancer. Antioxidants have the power to stop the harmful effects of free radicals by stabilizing these harmful molecules. Although there are a lot of other known antioxidants found in different kinds of food and other sources, retinol has been proven to be one of the strongest.
  • Retinol for Damage Control. Retinol is known to be one of the most effective ingredients used to help repair any kind of damage to skin cells. Its ability to speed up the growth of cells makes it the best ingredient to use for anti-aging and for those who are prone to acne, as it helps shed off the old skin cells and replaces them with new layers. Acne grows when your old skin cells block off your pores, trapping oil and dirt inside each of them. The visible signs of aging are also affected by the way your skin replaces old cells with the new, keeping away the dryness and dullness and delaying the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.
  • Retinol and its Size. Retinol is one of the smallest substances used for skin care, making it more potent than a lot of other similar ingredients. Its miniscule size allows it to penetrate your skin deeper than anything else, making its effects faster and more effective. This is why although there is an abundance of Vitamin A in different foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and kale, it still works faster when used in serums and creams and applied directly to the skin’s surface.
  • Retinol to Control Sebum. Sebum is the oil found on your skin, and is another cause for the growth of acne. Too much of it would clog the pores and would attract the presence of dirt, and retinol has the ability to control its production.

What are Retinol’s Side Effects?

As with any ingredient used in skincare, there are a few precautions that you would have to take when using retinol-based products as well. Considering the speed at which retinol works, those with very sensitive skin could experience irritation as the retinol is absorbed. Because retinol quickly exfoliates your skin working from the inside out, you may experience some dryness, redness, flaking, and peeling especially if it’s your first time to use it. You could also experience sudden acne breakouts in the process.

If you find yourself experiencing these side effects after using retinol-based products, there is no need to worry as you can still enjoy its benefits without having to worry too much about retinol being bad for you. Of course, there is always a need to check first if your skin is only experiencing irritation or if you are allergic to the substance. To find out, it is always better to check with a dermatologist.

Once you have established that retinol is safe for you to use, don’t get too excited and use it all in one go. Knowing that retinol seems to have the tendency to irritate your skin, allow your skin to adjust and get used to it first. Use very small amounts at first, slowly building up until you reach the recommended amount to be used. Whenever your skin starts to get irritated again, give your skin a break by stopping from using the product until the irritation subsides. When you start using it again, repeat the same process, using the product little by little.

Also, remember that the skin around your eyes is the most sensitive of them all, so avoid using it around the area. You could try putting some Vaseline around your eyes just before applying retinol to the rest of your face if you think your eyes may be quickly affected.

Your skin will also become a little more sensitive to the sun, so make sure you apply plenty of sunscreen. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that would shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, and wear it even if you will be indoors most of the time. Wear hats and shades when you step out of the house, and wear clothing that would protect your skin effectively.

Retinol is just one of the few ingredients used to make your skin look more beautiful. If you decide to choose products with a different active ingredient, make sure you find out more about it to see if it would well on your skin, or if it would do more harm than good.

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