what is retinol and how to use it my recommended retinol products

Retinol: A topic I’ve been wanting to talk about for awhile now. I mentioned in an earlier post, a few weeks ago, I paid a long overdue visit to my dermatologist. The actual reason for my appointment was to talk about IPL,  something I’ve been wanting to do to get rid of a few dark spots that have been bothering me, but I’ll save that topic for another day.

During my appointment, my dermatologist wanted to go over my full skincare regimen. We spoke about cleansers, AHAs, oils, SPF and everything in between. The one thing my routine was missing was a retinol treatment. Even before I was pregnant (you cannot use if you’re pregnant or nursing), retinol was never really part of my routine. Of course, in typical fashion, I wanted the full rundown as to why I should start using one. During our conversation, she brought in one of her coworkers, a 65 year old woman who started using a retinol 15 years ago: “Do you see Mary? She looks better at 65 than she did at 50. Do you know why? Because she incorporated a retinol into her routine..” Mary agreed and proceeded to show me photos of her 50 year old self and the results were astonishing.

What It Does:

Retinol is considered to be the #1 ingredient to stop aging in its tracks and reverse previous damage. It is actually proven to stimulate collagen production, making your skin appear plumper. It is also proven to minimize the look of pores and uneven pigmentation brought on by sun damage. Basically, a godsend to those who want to reverse past and future damage, preventing wrinkles, color discoloration and helping other issues, such as acne. Because it works to increase cell turnover, initially, retinol can make your skin very delicate. This is one of the main reasons why it’s such a miracle product, but if you don’t use it correctly, it will cause more harm than good.

Some very important things to keep in mind:

When using a retinol, an SPF of 30+ is a MUST.  I cannot stress this enough! As mentioned above, because it essentially sheds new skin, exposing that skin to the sun (even on a cloudy day) is almost like exposing a babies skin to the sun. Don’t even go there.

For this reason, only use it at night. Even when washed off in the morning, your skin is sensitive to the sun, so that’s why the SPF is stressed.

Again, retinol should not be used if you’re pregnant or nursing.

How To Use:

Retinol is not a product you want to jump into head first. It’s something you want to slowly ease into. Your skin may take several weeks getting used to using a retinol treatment and in the beginning, redness and flakiness are normal. Your skin may look slightly worse before it looks better, but again, this is normal. I’m currently using my retinol three nights a week and on those days, I don’t use any other strong products (like P50, but I will use a much milder acid, like Pixi Glow Tonic). I use a tiny, pea sized amount and spread all over my entire face and chest area. I follow up with a super moisturizing night cream, followed by an oil to seal in the moisture.

Below are some retinol products that I recommend (after asking my derm, trying myself or from doing my own research). Once your skin gets accustomed to a retinol, you may want to ask your dermatologist for a prescription for something stronger. In the meantime, some of the best in the market, including a drugstore one:

1. Kate Somerville RetAsphere

2. Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM

3. Kate Somerville Dermal Quence Liquid Lift

4. Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0

5. ROC Corrextion Sensitive Night Cream

I hope this is clear, but if not, let me know if you have any questions and I’ll answer in the comment section.