Add Retinol to Your Skincare Routine With One of These Beginner Serums or Creams
For those unfamiliar with retinol, it's a vitamin A derivative that has been used in dermatology for decades and more recently, has become a buzz-worthy ingredient in over-the-counter skincare products.
The skin-transforming ingredient, often labelled the MVP of skincare, works by stimulating the metabolism of skin cells to encourage turnover and boost collagen production (read: visibly reducing the appearance of sun damage, pigmentation, fine lines and acne). Sounds amazing, right? And it is, however, there are a few things worth noting about retinol-based products before you go slathering one on.
Prepare For the 'Purge'
If your skin is on the oilier side and you're prone to blackheads and acne, retinol is going to be a godsend when it comes to helping to clear up your skin . . . but only after a rocky start. All retinol users will experience what we call a 'purge', this is when your skin starts to clear itself of all acne causing blockages at a rapid rate. This means you might see a number of breakouts during your first few days or weeks of use. Depending on how congested your skin is will determine how long it is before you start seeing results. However, like with all good skincare, the result will eventually come and they will be worth it.
Your Skin Will Become More Sensitive Before it Becomes Stronger
When you start using retinol, your skin will also go through an adjustment period where it'll become thinner and more fragile, resulting in increased sensitivity, and at times, peeling and flaking. This is totally normal, however, you should always take a slow and steady approach to acids until you learn what kind of tolerance your skin has. That said, after you get through the adjustment period and you're using a retinol consistently, it'll actually start to thicken the epidermis, meaning stronger, firmer, more resilient skin. It's also important that you apply SPF daily if you're using a retinol because when your skin is more sensitive you're more susceptible to UVA/UVB rays.
Start Using it in Your Late '20s or Early '30s
If you're under the age of 30, retinol might be a little too much for your skin just yet. Usually, once we hit 30, our collagen stores start to rapidly break down and we need our skincare to help do the heavy lifting for us (that's why you often see skincare brands spruiking the fact that their formulas are collagen boosting). This is the perfect time to start using retinol-based products to help encourage collagen production and topically help smooth out any of the fine lines and wrinkles that may have started to appear. Just remember to go slow and steady as you start to introduce your skin to retinol.
Know Your Dosages
When introducing your skin to retinol, consider the strength of your chosen product and how often you should be using it. A general rule of thumb is to start out using retinol at night and on alternating days until you know how your skin is going to react. As mentioned above, retinol use can sensitise the skin, meaning its easy to overuse. If you're using a serum formula, it's best to apply it in the evening post-cleanse followed by a hydrating night cream to avoid drying out the skin. Alternatively, beginner retinol users can opt for a cream-based formula as they're usually mixed with hydrators that'll help balance out the strength of the retinol. If you have sensitive skin, you can alway try buffering your retinol between layers of moisturiser, (just avoid one with vitamin C in it) as a way to avoid irritation and prevent drying out your skin, especially in winter.
Below is a round-up of some of the best over-the-counter retinol products that are worth adding to your skincare routine.