Taking the mystery out of retinoids
To wash or not to wash? To apply or not to apply? And then… how to apply? Proper skincare is not always the easiest thing to decipher. All of it is made even more confusing with the latest miracle products and procedures including everyone’s favorite staple --retinoids. Along with their beloved powers to diminish fine lines, give skin a rosy glow, and fade dark spots, retinoids also come with a million questions and concerns.
One of the biggest concerns is deciphering the differences between all those r-words: retinol, retinoic acid, retinyl, etc. Allure magazine tackles this quandary in a recent article explaining the differences between retinoid products offered on the market today.
The two retinoid products worth using are prescription retinoids containing retinoic acid, and non-prescription formulas containing an ingredient called retinol which is a derivative of vitamin A. Biochemically the two do exactly the same thing. The difference is that off-the-shelf retinol products may take longer to provide the same results as they don’t achieve the same amount of change on a cellular level. Other derivative products (pro-retinoids) like retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, and retinyl linoleate tend to be considerably weaker than retinoic acid and retinol, so while they are gentler, these products have not been proven to actually be effective at fighting the signs of aging.
That’s not to say that “gentle” always equals “ineffective.” In fact, sometimes a gentler product geared towards ‘sensitive skin’ can act as a great “gateway” retinoid to help prepare sensitive skin to tolerate a stronger retinoid.
Even if skin starts to show signs of irritation after adding a retinoid to your skincare routine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stop using the product. Your skin cells adapt to a product over the course of two or three weeks, so even if you experience reasonable flushing, dry skin, and light peeling, it may be worth it to push through, switch to a weaker formula, or use the product less often.
Skincare is never a one-size fits all affair which makes consulting your doctor a great idea before you add any retinoid product. In equal measure, adding a retinoid in most cases is a great way to reduce the appearance of pores, fade dark regions or spots, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and produce a nice rosy glow.
See, that’s not so complicated, is it?