What is Retinol & What Does Retinol Do?

Let’s face it, wrinkles and fine lines are inevitable. Signs of ageing are simply a part of getting older. Have you started to notice some sneaky lines pop up? Wondering what you can do about it? Look towards powerful anti-ageing ingredients with proven results. Retinol (and retinoids in general) have been touted as a powerful and effective anti-ageing ingredient in recent years – and we’ll tell you why that hype is deserved. So what are retinols and retinoids, and how can they be used to improve the appearance of your skin? Read on to get the lowdown on what retinol and other retinoids do, and how you can incorporate these effective anti-ageing ingredients into your skin care routine.

What is retinol?

Put simply, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, meaning it is an antioxidant. Retinol is used in cosmetics and skin care as its topical application can fight visible signs of ageing, most predominantly wrinkles. This is as retinol encourages skin renewal, a process that slows as we age, resulting in (you guessed it) wrinkles and fine lines!

What does retinol do?

Applying retinol topically impacts cellular and molecular properties of the epidermis (the outer layer of our skin) and dermis (the layer beneath the epidermis). These results can be seen in the improvement of the appearance of fine wrinkles associated with natural aging following continued use of retinol skin care products. Retinol also works by unclogging pores, which can make your skin more even. Beyond that, studies show that retinol also works as an antioxidant to help neutralise free radicals on the skin, which can damage skin cells and result in the premature appearance of wrinkles. Sounds like a bit of a miracle worker doesn’t it?

What’s the difference between a retinol and a retinoid?

Now we’ve cleared up what retinol is you might be left asking “okay, but what is a retinoid?” and wondering what sets the two apart, so let’s clear things up. ‘Retinoid’ is an umbrella term for the different types of vitamin A derivatives, including retinol. So technically retinol is a type of retinoid, which means there’s not much difference between retinol and retinoid as they are part of the same family. The retinoid family includes vitamin A and its natural and synthetic derivatives, including retinol, retinoic acid, isotretinoin, amongst others. In other words, retinol is just one type of retinoid, of which there are a multitude. Of retinoids, retinol is just the most popular and common in anti-ageing products as it delivers effective results in lower concentrations that are available in skin care.

What do retinoids do?

Retinoids increase cell turnover to exfoliate clogged pores and reduce the appearance of fine lines—which is why they’re a key ingredient in effective treatment for acne and fine lines and wrinkles. As retinol is a type of retinoid, how do their effects differ?

How to use retinol and retinoids

If you’re interested in using skin care products formulated with retinol or other retinoids as part of your skin care routine, it is recommended to start slowly until your skin builds up a tolerance since retinol can be quite drying.

Most cosmetic products with retinol are formulated to be used daily, and therefore are far less likely to cause any negative side effects, which can include dry, flaky skin. This means they can deliver effective results, without any down time. Even so, if your skin is prone to irritation you can apply after your moisturiser to lessen to absorption initially. Or try only using your retinol products every other night until your skin gets used to them. Regardless of frequency, after applying you should follow up with a moisturiser to help counteract the potential drying effects. If you are unsure whether retinol is suitable for your skin, always consult a dermatologist.

As retinol and other retinoids can increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun, they should be used as a part of your night-time skin care routine. Therefore, it is imperative to use a SPF moisturiser during the day, even in winter, to protect your skin and prevent sun damage.
 

Where can you find retinol?

For most retinoids, you’ll need a medical prescription administered by a doctor or dermatologist. However, the same isn’t true for retinol. Over-the-counter retinol is becoming increasingly popular and — with that — more accessible in everyday skin care products. If you want to start including a retinol option in your skincare regimen, here are a couple to consider:

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Classic Night Cream is formulated with Advanced Pro-Retinol and Fibrelastyl, a firming complex which helps to reinforce skin elasticity while the Pro-Retinol smooths fine lines as you sleep. Apply in the evening on a cleansed face, neck and décolletage using circular motions. And remember sunscreen the next morning!

Opt for the Revitalift Classic Concentrated Serum, an advanced pro-retinol anti-wrinkle serum to use straight after cleansing and before both morning and night. Use in conjunction with a day and night cream from the Revitalift range for the best results.

For a targeted eye cream that also harnesses the power of pro-retinol reach for the Revitalift Classic Eye Cream. This formula has been specially developed to help hydrate and tone the delicate eye contour area while also visibly reducing wrinkles and crow’s feet that come with age.

How to build a complete retinol skin care routine

While retinol can play an important role in your skin care routine, it is not the only thing you can do to maintain your complexion’s youthful-looking appearance. Add these steps to your skin care routine in addition to using a retinol cream for the best results.

1. Use a facial cleanser twice a day

Cleansing your skin is one of the best steps you can take to care for your skin. Washing your face at night is particularly important to help address the buildup of dirt, oil, and makeup that has piled up on the skin's surface during the day. Since dryness can become more prevalent as you age, opt for a gentle cream cleanser that hydrates while it cleanses, like our Age Perfect Classic Facial Cleansing Milk

2. Remember to sunscreen every day

We can’t stress this point enough! We’ve already given you one good reason to wear sunscreen — retinoids can increase sun sensitivity — but there’s more. Without adequate protection, the sun can cause damage to your skin, which can lead to visible signs of ageing down the road, like wrinkles and dark spots. The sun emits two kinds of rays — UVA and UVB — and UVA rays are the ones responsible for making your skin look older, while UVB rays cause burning. Even on an overcast day, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin against both types of UV rays. Our Revitalift Classic Day Cream SPF 15 & Revitalift Laser Day Cream SPF 15 are formulated with SPF for added protection and prevention against ageing. 

3. Exfoliate when you need

Get rid of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin by incorporating a gentle exfoliator into your routine once or twice a week. Exfoliation is an essential part of a skin care routine for ageing skin. This is as you get older, your skin’s ability to shed old surface skin cells slows down, and the resulting buildup can lead to a dull-looking complexion. Reveal brighter skin by introducing a chemical exfoliant into your skincare routine – we love the Revitalift Laser X3 Glycolic Pads. Formulated to reveal brighter, softer skin with Glycolic Acid, and suitable for all skin types.

4. Add a facial serum

A facial serum should be applied to the face and neck after cleansing but before your moisturiser. Serums are more lightweight than moisturisers, and often incorporate high concentrations of specific active ingredients, including retinol or hyaluronic acid. Different active ingredients will achieve results – to find the right facial serum for you, use our guide to facial serums. Our favourite for added hydration is Revitalift Filler Hyaluronic Acid 1.5%, our most hydrating serum which provides replenished moisture for plumped, supple and youthful looking skin. It has been specifically developed to deliver an advanced anti-wrinkle efficacy with rapid absorption and non-greasy finish.

5. Pay attention to your eyes

Your eyes aren't just the window to your soul, they can also be a dead giveaway of ageing skin. As we age, our skin loses collagen, which often shows in the delicate skin around the eyes first. If you experience the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, or fine lines, try adding an eye cream that contains retinol to your daily skin care routine. The Revitalift Classic Eye Cream contains Pro-Retinol and should be applied both morning and night.

6. Moisturise!

During the day, apply your usual day cream. In the evening, finish up your skin care routine with your chosen retinol products, including the L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Classic Night Cream.

Now you know what retinol is, what a retinoid is, and how retinol works, it’s time to put it to good use in your skincare routine!

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