Retinol is a vitamin A that improves skin texture, eliminates pigmentation, works as an antioxidant and helps fight free radicals. This ingredient has become one of the most popular components of anti-age serums, creams and concentrates, however, many people are still asking questions: how to use it correctly, is it suitable for sensitive skin, what side effects can occur, from what age should you use products with retinol. Together with dermatologists, we debunk 11 myths.
All of these ingredients starting with p (retinol, retinoic acid) work the same.
Yes and no. Products with a high concentration of retinol abroad can only be bought with a prescription from a dermatologist. They contain retinoic acid, a magic ingredient that fights the signs of aging.
Over-the-counter products contain an ingredient called retinol, a derivative of vitamin A. There are many studies proving that although retinol has a more gentle effect on the skin than retinoic acid, it also acts biochemically. True, it may take longer to see the effect. Retin-A, also known as tretinoin, is used exclusively in prescription drugs and acts faster than retinol, but often causes more side effects. Says Dana Sachs, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.
This cannot be said about derivatives of vitamin A, which are transformed in the skin by the following chain: retinol palmitate, retinol, retinaldehyde, tretinoin (retinoic acid). The more steps a vitamin A derivative takes to become retinoic acid (the active form of vitamin A), the weaker the retinoid and the softer it works.
Retinoids work as a skin exfoliator
Surely many people think that retinoids work by removing dead skin cells. However, it turns out that the principle of action is slightly different.
Peeling and redness often occur during the use of retinol products. But this is a side effect of irritation and not an exfoliating effect like the one you get from an ingredient like glycolic acid, – says Sax.
The expert notes that many of her clients somehow think that retinol is a peeling, and that is why they often refuse it. Retinoids, on the other hand, work at a much deeper level, affecting expression, gene activity (over the years, gene expression in humans decreases) and causing an increase in collagen production, smoothing the skin and reducing pigmentation.
Retinol can not be used in the summer, as the risk of sunburn increases
This is one of the most famous myths. The bottom line is that vitamin A is destroyed when interacting with the sun, so retinol products are poured into opaque vesicles, and they are still better applied at night (in daylight they will become ineffective). However, retinol does not make the skin more prone to sunburn.
This myth arose because in some early studies, people wrote that when they applied the drug with retinoids and went outside, they noticed a burning sensation on the skin. But this redness is probably due to exposure to heat, – explains the expert.
Clinical studies have shown that retinoids do not lead to noticeable reddening of the skin.
Always use retinoids on dry skin.
Sometimes even doctors break the rules. I know that the instructions often write that you should wait until the face is completely dry before applying the retinoid. But in the scientific literature that I have seen, there is no evidence that wet skin enhances sensitivity, – says the beautician.
The first results from the use of retinol will not appear earlier than after 4-6 weeks
I wish that was true. According to Gary Fisher, a professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, it turns out that it will take much longer – twice or even three times as much.
Many manufacturers promise a visible effect in a few weeks. But, in my experience, retinoic acid takes an average of 12 weeks to lead to noticeable changes, He says.
Gentle retinoids can be as effective as stronger ones.
The words “sensitive skin” on the label (for example, RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive night creams) often indicate a low concentration of active ingredients, – says Sax.
However, dermatologists are increasingly recommending starting with just such “light” products with a lower concentration of retinol (they also have soothing ingredients).
Once a patient with sensitive skin has used the packaging of such a product for several weeks, we can move on to a stronger retinoid, knowing that skin cells are now better adapted to its effects Says Jonathan Weiss, a dermatologist from Atlanta.
You should stop using retinol if your skin is irritated.
The irritation that appears the first time after starting the use of vitamin A is normal. Within two or three weeks, skin cells adapt to retinoic acid. If the discomfort is long, and the redness is strong, then use a cream with retinol once a week or switch to a weaker concentration, – says Sax.
You can not use retinol on vacation
Climate change will not make your skin react differently to a retinoid that you tolerated well at home a few days earlier, – says Weiss.
As soon as skin cells adapt to retinoids, any irritation (called retinoid dermatitis) usually stops. Nevertheless, if you plan a long-distance flight or ski high in the mountains, it is better to stock up with an effective moisturizer to avoid dryness, which makes the skin more susceptible to irritation in general.
Do not take funds with retinol for a beach holiday
We are still getting used to the idea that retinoids also do not increase the risk of sunburn. Experts believe that using a remedy with retinoids on vacation can even be a great idea. Retinol not only enhances collagen production, but can also prevent photoaging. It has been proven that it prevents the production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen after exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Do not apply retinol to the skin around the eyes
Weiss says that this is not only possible, but even necessary. Studies have shown that the best results from the use of retinol formulas were those who applied the cream up to a century. Even if a drop of cream gets into the eye, then nothing bad will happen, just a little pinch.
There are not many contraindications
Not all people can freely use funds with retinol, since there are quite a few contraindications.
Pregnant and lactating women should avoid retinol because of the risk of fetal malformations. Do not use a cream with retinol if you, like Kim Kardashian, have psoriasis, eczema or rosacea, as this can aggravate such conditions. It is always worth remembering that vitamin A can cause allergies. It is best to first test for an allergic reaction in a small area, such as the wrist. You should not mix retinol with benzoyl peroxide, ANA acids, as this can harm the skin. In any case, you should consult with a cosmetologist, and not prescribe yourself retinol yourself,
– says a certified dermatovenerologist, cosmetologist and specialist in minimally invasive procedures David Dzadzaev.