Helpful Information

Helpful Information on Retinols

Retinol molecules | Dermatology Institute of America Helpful Information on Retinols Skincare Blog

Also known as retinoids, retinols are a key component of any skin care regimen.

There are many types of retinols that are designed for different uses. The most common uses for retinols is for acne and for reversal of sun damage. The retinols that are sold on our site are for sun damage.

Many of the changes that we notice in our skin as we age are actually from sun damage. One only needs to look at a sun-protected area of the body to see the difference between skin ageing and sun damage. Some of the results of sun damage include deepening of wrinkles, darker and lighter spotting, thinning, dullness, enlarged blood vessels, and sagging of the skin. Under the microscope, sun-damaged skin has smaller skin cells(thereby less able to hold water), is thinner, with less collagen and sometimes more elastin. Sun-damaged skin is also weaker, with easier bruisability, and with less tolerance for traction or friction. Sun damaged skin will also harbor allergens for longer periods of time and will heal more slowly. Due to loss of collagen and ground substance (the spaces between cells) the cell-to-cell communication systems are slowed to non-existent, the skin is drier and has a crepe-like appearance.

Retinols are an important part of any skin care routine as they accelerate the normal turnover of damaged cells…not by peeling the skin…but by aiding the skin in a normal process called apoptosis. Apoptosis is a clearing mechanism whereby cells with damaged DNA (usually from the sun) are pushed to the surface of the skin and discarded, along with the 30-40,000 cells which are discarded daily.

Any peeling of the skin caused by retinol use is an unnecessary side effect and is of no benefit. If peeling of the skin is seen after use of a retinol, it is best to stop the product until the peeling subsides, and then to resume use of the retinol at a lower frequency. For example, if use of a retinol daily results in peeling, it is best to stop the product until the peeling subsides and then resume use of the product at a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule. Always back down on your schedule of use until no peeling is observed, allow the skin to rest, and then re-start at a lower frequency. Increase frequency of use as tolerated. Try to never give up on retinol use, as it is by far the best treatment available for your skin. As the health of your skin improves (in other words, as your skin is slowly repaired and has less sun-damage) it will tolerate more frequent use of the retinol.

There are many misunderstanding about retinols, including the above. It is also frequently used at night only. This is because bright light can destroy the retinol molecule…this is why it is sold in brown bottles or in metal tubes. However, it is possible to use retinol during the day if one plans on staying indoors and away from bright lights. Retinol does not attract sunlight, nor does it make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. If one notices that their skin is more sensitive to sunlight it is because of excessive use of the retinol or because of use of a retinol which is too strong. The exception to this is with use or oral retinols, which generally require heavy sunscreen use and sun-avoidance.