Everyone wants the magic potion to instantly give them a more youthful appearance. Well…. While the
beauty industry has not yet found the fountain of youth, it has given consumers the next best anti-aging
products, retinols, and retinoids. Though they are similar they have great differences in their strengths,
benefits and molecular structures.
What is a retinol?
Retinol is a weaker type of retinoid that can be found over the counter. Retinoids are commonly seen on
ingredient labels as retinyl palmitate, retinyl linoleate, retinaldehyde, propionic acid, or retinyl acetate.
It is most common to find a product that has retinol in it, rather than a stand alone retinol serum or
cream. As with all over the counter skin ingredients, retinol works gradually because it has a lower
concentration of retinoic acid.
How to apply retinol
When starting a retinoid it is always best to seek out a dermatologist or esthetician to make sure you get
the correct strength. Nobody wants to spend money to look worse. Though there is the dreaded purging
phase the user must go through it is worth it in the end when the skin is glowing and you notice less fine
lines looking back at you in the mirror. On average it is safe to start applying retinol one to two times a
week in the begging stage to avoid over drying and causing skin to become over irritated. Not much is
needed when applying a retinol, a pea size is just enough to cover the entire face.
What is a retinoid?
Retinoids are a stronger form of retinol that you can get prescribed to you by a dermatologist. Retinoids
are more beneficial for patients with psoriasis, scarring, and acne. Retinoids are available in topical form
as well as in pill form(Accutane). Just like retinol all you need to use is a pea sized amount, starting with
1 to 2 times a week. ALWAYS follow up retinoids with a hydrating serum and or moisturizer, this will
ensure you see less flaking, and feel your skin be less tight. Another benefit of retinoids is that they have
a molecular structure that is able to penetrate the skin down to the dermis to help stimulate collagen
production. Collagen is gradually broken down as we age, and that is why we have less wrinkles, and fine
lines in our youngers years.
How to apply retinol and retinoids
At a maximum retinoids should be applied 2 times a week when just starting to use them. Apply a pea
sized amount to the face, and smooth it all over. I promise you that this is enough even though it may
not look like it, this stuff is very concentrated. Even if you start with the popular over the counter (
Adapalene) do not use it more than 2 times a week till you build up tolerance to it. Tretinoin is only
available by prescription. Retinoids are not safe for pregnant women or breast feeding; instead you can
use a pregnancy safe and vegan alternative called bakuchiol. More on bakuchiol can be found here.
Don’t forget your SPF!
It is vital that you put on sunscreen when you are using any type of retinoid, whether its over the
counter or prescription. Retinoids make skin much more sensitive to sun, so if you do not wear spf you
are not only wasting your money, and putting your skin in danger; you are asking for the opposite of
what you want. Because skin is more sensitive when we use retinoids, if spf is not applied, all you will
get is even more hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. So if you want to look smooth, and young then apply
that spf every morning and throughout the day, even During Autumn and Winter.
If you are just dipping your toes into the pool of retinoids, I suggest trying an over the counter retinol
first. Once you build up a tolerance and see the need to increase the strength, then you can talk to your
dermatologist and get started using tretinoin (Retin-A)
I am not a licensed esthetician nor a dermatologist. I am a friendly and knowledgeable beauty obsessed
consumer. Please refer all questions you have to your physicians.