RETINOL is still a huge beauty buzzword – find out what all the fuss is about with our comprehensive guide.
We share high street products and advice from skincare experts to help you feel great in January.
What is it?
“Retinol is a form of vitamin A, which was discovered in the early 1900s and is now widely available on the skincare market,” says Time Bomb skincare expert Michaella Bolder.
“It’s mainly used to promote and accelerate cell renewal, increase collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
When applied topically, retinol is one of the key substances available in skincare that’s really been proven to make a difference – whether you’re struggling with spots, fine lines or discolouration.
How does it work?
“Unlike most topical creams and serums, retinol works at a deeper cellular level to boost the production of collagen from inside the dermis [the core layer of skin],” explains Dr Philippe Hamida-Pisal, founder of PHP Aesthetics on Harley Street.
“It helps to create the environment that cells need to produce more collagen, which is what gives a more radiant look.”
It also increases epidermal turnover – which means it causes cells to die and shed off to reveal the fresher skin below it.
And although this already happens naturally, retinol will do it faster, causing a more noticeable change so you feel fresh-faced all the time.
Who should use it?
Skin concerns can get the better of you at any age, but a word of warning if you’re under 25.
“Retinoids can be too harsh on younger or sensitive skin and leave it more susceptible to sun damage,” advises Michaella.
“After 25, you can start to introduce retinol into your regime once a week as a preventative measure, but your 30s are the ideal time to become acquainted with it. By your 40s, you should be using retinol three times a week and by your 50s, every other night,” she adds.
Whatever your age, it’s important to introduce it to your regime slowly as it’s a powerful ingredient that can cause oversensitivity.
How should it be used?
Retinol comes in many forms, but Dr Hamida-Pisal says a cream might be best if you’re prone to breakouts.
“Creams are good as retinol will dry the skin and help to get rid of spots,” he says. “Those with acne-prone complexions will want to avoid oils as layering them can cause blemishes.”
However, if your skin is dry or dehydrated, you should pack on a retinol-infused oil, which will help the lower layers of skin regenerate, while also nourishing dry areas.
Are there side effects?
While retinol might sound like the answer to your prayers, it’s important to approach it with caution.
“Definitely patch test and don’t be tempted to go too high on concentration at first,” explains beauty expert Abi Cleeve.
“And always protect yourself from the sun with a higher SPF, as retinol can weaken your skin’s resistance to harmful UVA rays.” We’re stocking up right now!
Retinol virgin? Time Bomb ABC Vitamin Solution, £48, is also packed with hyaluronic acid and squalene, which act as a protective buffer to get rid of any of the harsh or drying effects associated with using retinol.
Just a few Rodial Retinol Booster Drops, £75, in the evening will help tackle age spots.
This wonder product also contains citric acid and castor oil, which hydrate and nourish.
For enlarged pores
The retinol in Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum, £42 for 30 capsules, is more potent than that found in bottles, plus one little capsule goes a long way towards minimising pores.
For exhausted eyes
Feeling sad about circles? Don’t fret – marine kelp, swertia flower extract and, of course, retinol in Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum, £65, boost collagen production to make the skin less thin, counteracting dark shadows.
For dry skin
If you struggle with dryness and dehydration, banish it for good with the help of jojoba-packed Tata Harper Retinoic Face Oil, £42.
Full of plumping ingredients including hyaluronic acid, Skin Sense Anti-Ageing Retinol Serum, £32, gets to work on fine lines and wrinkles.
For the acne-prone
Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 High Potency Refining Night Treatment, £55, is strong enough to target breakouts and has added camomile to reduce inflammation at the same time.
For sensitive souls
If you’re worried your skin will flare up, try Pixi Retinol Tonic, £10, which contains rosemary leaf water to soothe while the retinol gets to work.
Stockists: Elizabeth Arden (Elizabetharden.co.uk), Murad (Murad.co.uk), Pixi (Marksandspencer.com), Rodial (Rodial.co.uk), Skinceuticals (Skinceuticals.co.uk), Skin Sense (Skinsense.co.uk), Tata Harper (Net-a-porter.com), Time Bomb (Timebombco.com).