Retinol is an ingredient that can truly change your skin. We’re talking fairy godmother turning back time with one simple ingredient change in your skin’s appearance. Interested? We thought so…

What is retinol?

When you hear the term retinol, it’s actually referring to any product that contains the active ingredient “retinoids.” Retinoids can be produced in a number of different types and strengths, all of which are derived from Vitamin A. Dermatologists can prescribe a retinol cream or retinol serum that is prescription level – often used to treat acne, but can be used as an anti-aging tool as well. Beauty stores also offer various retinol products that are available over-the-counter.

What are the benefits of using retinol?

According to Dr. Gabriela Maloney, board-certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology, “Retinol creams really are some of the best and most studied skincare options when it comes to anti-aging. Retinol increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen and elastin production, therefore diminishing and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, reversing sun damage, photoaging, and evening out dark spots and rough skin tones. Prescription-grade retinol can also help with acne and cystic acne.”

Is retinol for all skin types?

“If you suffer from rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, it is best to avoid retinol as it may be too aggressive for your sensitive skin,” added Dr. Maloney. “It can lead to increased inflammation, dryness, and sensitivity. If you have one of these conditions but are interested in retinol, it is best to discuss your goals with a board-certified dermatologist first before proceeding with a new product.”

How do I use retinol?

According to Dr. Maloney, with a retinol cream or retinol serum it is important to slowly introduce it to your skincare routine, starting with a pea-sized amount once a week and building over time. Retinol products should always be applied at night before you go to bed. If you introduce the retinol too quickly, you should expect redness, dryness, and flaking. Retinol can be used all over the face EXCEPT the eyelids, corners of the eyes, and mouth as these areas are extra sensitive and can lead to burning and irritation.

What else should I know?

WEAR SUNSCREEN! When using retinol you must be vigilant in sunscreen application. While wearing a daily sunscreen is always recommended, it is particularly important when using a retinol product. The active ingredient, retinoids, increases cell turnover making skin temporarily more fragile and sensitive to the sun’s rays.

It is best to keep in mind that retinoids are powerful, and if you start to use a retinol product that proves too strong for your skin, it can irritate the skin and be ineffective.

What products do you recommend?

The most beloved retinol product in our office is Skinbetter Alpharet Overnight Cream. It is specially formulated to have prescription strength results with little to no irritation. For those of us that are more prone to acne breakouts, the Skinbetter Alpharet Clearing Serum is our nightly retinol choice!