For those that read my occasional comments, you may notice that when writing about skincare products and skin care in general, I keep matters fairly general and at best, point you towards a page on my website with relevant products. One thing I do not do, is get over-excited about this or that particular product. I may introduce a line, but I do not say: "... this is a must have for you".
There is a reason for this. At the level of product on my website, apart from many items not being at the common-high-street-drugstore end of the market, your skin is not something I (nor any other writer) has seen. I have always said and often repeat, that for anyone keen on a tailored professional skin care regieme, the first stop should be a skin care professional who can analyse your skin type and then indicate what may be best for you.
So it is with Retinol. I have a page of products that specifically relate to Retinol here but if they are right for you and more importantly, in what strength, is a question that should be answered after seeing a professional.
Retinol is pure Vitamin A and can be most useful for specific skin concerns such as large pores, acne prone and mature skin. Retinol is a retinoid which is an overall term which covers such things as retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, alitretinoin, and bexarotene. In order for retinol’s stability to be maintained, it needs minimal exposure to light and air, so the first thing to note is to avoid jars and clear packaging.
For those of you with darker skin tones, be extra careful. While your skin will develop a tolerance over time, darker skin tones can show temporary dark patches (or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) if the skin gets too much retinol, too soon. Generally, as well, if pregnant or breastfeeding, always check with your chosen healthcare practitioner before using a retinol-based product.
As said earlier, there is no rule of thumb way to decide what will work best for you, especially with regard to the concentration. Here again, reference to your skin care professional will suggest the right sort of concentration for your skin type after checking your skin's dryness, tone, sensitivity and condition. However, if you wish to try before seeing a professional, start with products containing less than 1% and do so on a measured basis. Do not go hell-for-leather with the top strength, straight off. Start by using Retinol once a week, building through every other night. If at any time, you get a reaction, stop!
There are two main ways of keeping Retinol active and useful. Firstly by using air-tight, sun-proof packaging and also by encapsulating the retinol. Encapsulating is a chemical process that covers the active retinol part in a protective molecule such as silicone, which helps stability. Put together well and sensibly presented, Retinol works better. It sits for longer on the skin in an active form, offering a lower, consistent dose over a time period that can penetrate to deeper levels.
Lastly, if using Retinol, you must use a good, broad-spectrum SPF30 or above sunscreen every day as Retinol does make your skin more photosensitive - so, if going on holiday to the sun, try and cease the use of Retinol products at least a week, if not longer, before departure.