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Retinol – a proven anti-aging skincare ingredient

24th February, 2011 by Andrea


In recent years, skin care companies have released many products advertising the benefits of retinol.

Retinol, a form of vitamin A, is a naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamin found in animal products such as fish oils and liver.
It is also manufactured in the form of retinoids, tritonin, and retinyl palimitate.

Retinol was first used to treat acne but is now frequently used to treat signs of aging, fine lines and wrinkles, enlarge pores, blemishes, acne scarring or age spots .

Retinol is an anti-oxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer by neutralizing free radicals. It increases cell production in the top layer of skin, so new skin cells begin to grow underneath and push their way towards the surface of the skin. Resulting in the Cells looking smoother and the skin looking younger. It also has a positive effect on collagen production, because skin uses retinoic acid when it produces collagen. As a result, skin looks plumper. Also, it helps to reduce pigmentation that comes with sun damage.

The greatest cause of damage is the sun, which can greatly accelerate the effects of aging. Chemicals, such as second-hand smoke and pollution, also work to harm sensitive skin tissues. Retinol stimulates cell growth and production and helps misshapen skin cells to grow back to their proper form to help repair this damage. Retinol is an excellent product to use because it works simply by repairing and improving the overall health of your skin.

Anti-ageing creams contain varying amounts of retinol, so check the label before buying. All the High street beauty producst that state they contain retinol may only contain a very small amount and wont say how much. With Cosmeceutical products you will find high levels of retinol and a good delivery system, so the retinol stays effective in the bottle and penetrates deep into your skin when you use it.

Side effects

Because the turnover of skin cells is higher, the cells at the surface are younger and more vulnerable to sun damage, so you should always wear a daily sunscreen even if it’s not sunny. There is no point getting the anti-ageing benefits of a retinol cream, only to have them undone by sun damage. Retinol affects cell growth, it is known to cause birth defects and therefore should not be taken during pregnancy.


Retinol needs to be applied at night. It can cause irritation, so start by building up retinol use slowly to help skin to adapt. Use a retinol cream every third night for a week, then alternate nights for a week before going for nightly use. If burning, stinging and skin peeling persist for more than a day or two discontinue use. It can take about 12 weeks to notice the full effects of retinol, so do not be discouraged if you do not notice any changes at first.

What is Vitamin A and how does it help with anti-ageing?

 Vitamin A (Retinol)  signals the skin to increase cellular regeneration and collagen production.

This action triggers the smoothing of fine lines and wrinkles, improved skin tone and texture, and a reduction in blemishes, dark marks and age spots.

 How soon will I see visible results?

It can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks before you start to see the benefits of vitamin A. Your results will depend on the strength and the type of retinoid you’re using.

When should I use vitamin A in my skincare routine?

Many professionals recommend applying vitamin A to clean, dry skin before bed followed by a moisturiser. This will help to offset any dryness that may occur as your skin adjusts to your chosen retinoid.

For best results in the morning  use alongside a vitamin C serum and a high quality broad spectrum SPF 30 or spf50.

Which Vitamin A should I use ?

Vitamin A is suitable for all skin types but always start low and increase strength slowly to prevent any irritation.

When introducing any retinol apply twice in the first week then every other night in the second week and by the third week you should using it every night.

After a few months, you can then upgrade to higher strength retinol.

Is vitamin A too strong to be used around the delicate eye area?

The skin around the eyes is extremely delicate. As such, it is particularly prone to sensitivity.

We would always advise using an eye-specific retinol product as it uses a lower strength of vitamin A.

If you prefer an alternative to a retinol cream but want similar anti aging effects then using glycolic acid would be a great choice. It has similar benefits and is less irritating to sensitive skin than retinol, so you could start using this product alone and gradually add retinol to your skin care routine. Glycolic acid has been found to increase the effectiveness of retinol by enhancing the penetration. Also using a Vitamin C will reduce environmental skin damage and enhance collagen production. By using Retinol, Glycolic Acid & Vitamin C together they are all do something different to contribute to rejuvenating the skin.

Cosmetic Nurse Practitioner

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Welcome to the Dermacare Direct skincare blog…   Here you can gain an insight into professional skincare regimes, products & devices. Andrea and her team of experts provide practical advice and professional tips on a range of skincare issues – ageing, acne, scars, troubled skin & many more interesting topics about your skin

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