What is Retinol?

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Retinol, the all-singing, all-dancing skincare ingredient that’s hailed an anti-ageing wonder. But with an overwhelming amount of information out there, it’s easy to get put off. Here’s your cheat sheet…

What Is It?

Essentially, a form of vitamin A. Originally used by dermatologists as an acne treatment, it soon took on a new role as patients noticed the reduction of fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. Disclaimer: there are a lot of ‘R’s, but bear with us because of all the skincare ingredients, this is the one to get your head around. Retinol is the over the counter form of Retin-A, a prescription retinoid, and retinoid is the catchall term given to all vitamin A products. Although prescription retinol is stronger and takes effect quicker, biochemically, regular retinol does exactly the same job. And as Oskia Founder Georgie Cleeve notes, formulations have never been more sophisticated. “There are encapsulated retinoids which penetrate deep into layers of skin, and even irritant-free forms that bypass the irritation and peeling that’s so often associated with the ingredient” she says.

What Does It Do?

Retinol has a seriously impressive CV. Spot wise, “it removes bacteria from pores and reduces oil production in the sebaceous glands”, says Dr Yannis Alexandrides of 111SKIN. What’s more, it also “stimulates the production of new cells and collagen whilst reducing melanin production to ameliorate hyper-pigmentation”, says Cleeve.

When and How To Use

“Start with once a week, in the evening, post-cleanse to build your tolerance,” says Dr Alexandrides. If the introduction goes well, up your usage to twice a week, but if the reception is frosty, revert back to one. And don’t be impatient – visible results can take anywhere from four weeks to three months. SPF applications should be dutiful when using retinol, as some experts believe it can further sensitise your skin to UV rays.

111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil works to remedy any irritation retinol may cause with nine nourishing oils including sweet almond.

Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment quenches thirsty, sun-stripped skin while buffing and resurfacing it. It sinks in quick, and can be used as often as a regular moisturiser.

Oskia Super 16 Pro-Collagen Serum is great for beginners as it contains a mild but effective percentage. There are also 15 other skin-scaffolding actives.

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