The quest toward clear and youthful skin is never-ending. And so are your skincare options. That means finding the right match for your skin can be daunting…especially since it seems like everything has different benefits and active ingredients.
Some of these ingredients are fleeting. They become trendy (here’s looking at you caviar facials) and gradually fade away into obscurity. Others, however, become enduring essentials in our journey to aging beautifully.
There is one particular ingredient that has proven, time and time again, to be a ‘in it for the long haul’. And to boot, dermatologists recommend it for its youth-enhancing, anti-acne benefits.
We’re talking about retinol: A workhorse of the anti-aging world since the 1970s.
What is Retinol?
Retinol (also known as vitamin A) is a fat-soluble alcohol that is essential in cell reproduction, vision, immune system function, growth, bone formation, reproduction, and wound healing.
Long before it was discovered, vitamin A rich foods, including fish and animal liver oils were touted by ancient Greek writers as a remedy to help prevent blindness.1,2
Vitamin A can be derived from plants and animals. Retinol, a member of the retiniod family is derived from animals, while carotenoids are derived from plants.3
There are three retinoids that we should remember as they relate to skin care: retinol, retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate.
The Retinoid Family:
Retinoic acid is the most potent of the three retinoids. All other retinoids convert to retinoic acid before they are absorbed by the skin, so using retinoic acid itself cuts the middleman. This is why retinoic acid has a faster and more direct effect on skin when applied.4
In the field of dermatology, retinoic acid is one of the brightest stars when it comes to acne treatment. Because of its power and potency, it is available by prescription only. Along with clearing skin, it can cause severe dryness and skin irritation.5
The mildest of the three retinoids is retinyl palmitate. Because the skin only needs retinoid in the retinoic acid form, retinyl palmitate must be converted first. When a retinyl palmitate is applied to the skin, it transforms to retinol first, and then converts to retinoic acid.
Though retinyl palmitate still has all the anti-acne and anti-aging properties of retinoids, the conversion process makes it a lot weaker. The side effects are lessened, but it will take a lot more time to achieve potential skin benefits from using it. Retinyl palmitate can be bought over the counter.6
What do you have if you take a step back from retinoic acid, strength-wise, but go a step up in strength from retinyl palmitate? You have retinol, which converts to retinoic acid on application.7
Retinol may not be as powerful as retinoic acid, it is better for sensitive skin, according to a 2015 study published in The Authors Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. This study of 120 women ages 45-65 compared retinol to one of the standard-bearers of retinoic acid products—tretinoin (retinoic acid). One-half of participants applied retinol to their skin nightly, while other half used tretinoin. The outcome of the treatment is telling: While the two did not differ in terms of effectiveness, the retinol users reported fewer irritations to their skin.8
Retinol is possibly the best type that’s readily available. To boot, it is available as an over-the-counter treatment. There is, however, one drawback: its instability. It can be rendered ineffective if exposed to oxygen and light. The good news? Experts found a solution to this issue.9
Advances and innovations in nanotechnology have been dramatic throughout the years.
This science’s answer to the unstable property of retinol is something called nano-capsulation.
Through nano-capsulation, therapeutic ingredients like retinol, which are fragile and unstable, can be delivered with much-improved efficiency.10
Today, cosmetic companies with skincare products containing retinol are using this nano-capsulation technology to ensure that all the benefits can be delivered straight to the skin.
Skin Benefits of Nano-Encapsulated Retinol?
Retinol for Acne
Retinol as an acne treatment has been used for over three decades. It can help to unclog pores. It may also minimize inflammation and fast-track skin exfoliation.11
Retinol as a Collagen Booster
Studies have shown that it may greatly help to reduce the fine lines and wrinkles that appear with age. One 2007 study supports the idea that retinol can boost your skin’s collagen production. In this study, 36 participants (aged 80 and up), applied the ingredient to their skin three times per week over 24 weeks. The results were fantastic – retinol helped boost collagen production to reduce visible fine lines and wrinkles.12 That’s why we’ve included it in our newest revolutionary skincare product: Resurface + Restore Youth Revealing System. Nana-capsulated retinol is a powerful ingredient that works!
Who Could Benefit from using Retinol Products?
Anyone who wants to have clear, youthful looking skin might find some benefit in using retinol products…especially those with mature skin or blemishes.
It’s great for who need aggressive care in treating acne, scars, and blemishes because of its proven acne-fighting properties.13
Its anti-aging property has been proven and tested to show significance in lessening visible signs of aging.14
Possible Drawbacks and Caution
Although this ingredient is an amazing product, there are some drawbacks in using it – especially if you have sensitive skin. Here are some of the most common side effects15:
- Slight flaking of skin
- Dry skin
- Uncomfortable tightness
- Sensitivity to sunlight
These side effects may lessen as your skin gets used to the product. To counteract the possible drying effects, use a good moisturizer to keep skin soft. In addition, you may want to gradually introduce your skin to a retinol product. For example, instead of every day, use it every other day.
And if you’re unsure how your skin will react, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test. Hot tip: make sure to use a high-quality sunscreen when using products with retinol.16
A Retinol Prescription — is it Necessary?
For retinol? No. Some people do get a prescription for retinoic acid, however. But as we mentioned — prescriptions strength retinoic acid can cause severe dryness and irritation. Due to peeling and redness, some people find they feel more self-conscious about their skin while using prescription-strength retinoic acid.
Clearly, it can be tricky to tow the line between ‘getting great results’ and ‘unwanted side effects’. That’s why we’ve formulated Resurface & Restore — a two-step system that resurfaces the skin and encourages collagen production — without unwanted side effects or irritation.
Resurface & Restore is essentially an at-home retinol peel.
Now, if you’ve ever had a professional spa peel — you know how dramatic the results can be. The first step of Resurface & Restore involves the use of alpha-hydroxy acids to deeply exfoliate the skin, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion.17 The second step involves the use of retinol, vitamin C, and peptides to protect the skin, improve cell renewal, and stimulate collagen production.18,19,20 The result? A firmer, younger appearance.
The best part? The formulation is gentle enough to be suitable for most skin types. But it’s not just gentle — it’s effective. Since it’s an at-home remedy, you get the benefit that comes from regular and repeated use.
A Classic for Youthful Skin
Retinol is a tried and true skincare ingredient and it’s not going anywhere. So if you’re looking for firmer, smoother, and more youthful skin — begin incorporating retinol into your beauty routine and get ready to see results.
Article updated: March 28, 2018
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16 Beauty Wednesday: Serums, Sunscreen, and Retinoids – Corporette.com. Corporettecom. 2016. Accessed November 22, 2016.
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20 Bauza, E., Oberto, G., Berghi, A., Dal, C. F., & Domloge, N. (n.d.). Collagen-like peptide exhibits a remarkable antiwrinkle effect on the skin when topically applied: In vivo study. Retrieved March 28, 2018.