Ever wondered why most dermatologists still prescribe retinol for nearly every skin concern? What makes this vitamin A derivative superior to most anti-aging ingredients? Board-certified dermatologists Ashley Magovern, Stafford Broumand and Susan Stuart weigh in.
1. It’s multifunctional.
“What is great about retinol is that it’s a multifunctional ingredient that can stimulate cell regeneration, rebuild collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and fade age spots. It also exfoliates the skin to refine the texture, minimize pore size and even skin tone.”
2. There are numerous scientific studies that back up its claims.
“It has the best science behind it. There are countless studies that show over and over again that retinoic acid derivatives like retinol really do what everyone says they do.”
3. It works for most skin types.
“I’ve found that most patients can tolerate retinol as long as they follow their doctors’ orders of going slow and using a moisturizer concurrently. Start one to two nights a week and work your way up. The concentration can also be varied, depending on one’s skin sensitivity.”
4. It’s safe to use under the sun.
“With older formulations, the sun could potentially break down the active ingredient, but this is not the case with most of the newer formulations. At any rate, we still usually recommend that you use your retinol product at night. But there is no reason to avoid it in summer months. You may be a little more likely to burn as you are getting used to it, but with time your skin should become more resilient, healthy and free of sun damage.”
5. It’s easy to incorporate in your skin care routine.
“Use a small, pea-size amount, and apply a thin layer all over the face—including crow’s feet and lip lines. If your skin becomes too dry, use a moisturizer that has natural antioxidants (like green tea or niacinamide) to help alleviate the initial dryness and irritation.”
6. You can use it even without a prescription.
“In the past, most of us were biased to tretinoin, which is the prescription-strength version of retinoic acid, but we have learned that retinol in the over-the-counter versions can be very beneficial, especially if used regularly and consistently over time. Sometimes it’s even easier to tolerate an over-the-counter version.”
7. It’s FDA-approved.
“Retinol is the best treatment available because it has stood the test of time and numerous scientific studies. As such, it is also one of the few cosmetic products approved by the FDA.”
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR RETINOL
- Store your retinol product in a cool, dark and dry location, not in the bathroom where it can get hot and moist.
- If you have sensitive skin, start gradually or try diluting it with your favorite moisturizer.
- Avoid retinol if you are actively tanning.
- Sunscreen should always be worn, but it’s even more crucial to reapply if you are using retinol products.
- It’s normal for skin to be irritated for about two weeks upon introduction of retinol, but if it continues beyond that time, discontinue use.
Readers, what’s your favorite retinol product and why? How has retinol helped your skin? Share your thoughts with us on the comment section below.