Taking the mystery out of retinoids

Taking the mystery out of retinoids
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?

About the Author

Corrie Shenigo is obsessed. No seriously, she has a problem. Gleefully embracing all things even remotely related to being a modern woman, Ms. Shenigo dutifully reports her experiences and findings back to the fairer sexed masses – ‘cause gosh darn-it, they need to know. 

Yes, yes… she’s qualified. A former Editor at luxe mega-publisher Modern Luxury Media, Corrie has been published in Vogue, In-Style, Cosmopolitan, LemonTree and a whole slew of other print magazines, websites and beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogs, as well as her own blog BelleAesthete.com A skilled copywriter, Corrie’s clients have included noted beauty brands like Smashbox, CrushCrush Couture and Market America. She’s been known to moonlight as a red-carpet reporter for various celebrity news sources and somewhere in her studio lives a shiny B.A. in Mass Media-Journalism and Public Relations. 

Covering lifestyle, beauty and fashion isn’t just her job… it’s an adventure. So consider her the Christopher Columbus of women’s media – exploring, taking notes and reporting directly back to the Queen… ahem… that would be you.