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A beginners guide to retinol

A beginners guide to retinol

A beginners guide to retinol

 Retinol, marketed as a youth-boosting powerhouse which eliminates wrinkles, fine lines and reduces pigmentation and acne, is becoming increasingly popular for its many benefits.It is one of the most appreciated ingredients in the beauty industry. If you are new to the concept of using retinol to achieve the skin you’ve always wanted–look no further than this beginner’s guide to retinol. In this guide, we will discuss the types of retinol, what its properties are, how it works and how one should use it to reap its maximum benefits. In addition to this, we recommend that you speak with a specialist regarding which type of retinol is most suited to your skin type.  

What is retinol?

Retinol is often regarded as the magic elixir of skincare ingredients. It is a type of retinoid, which is a derivative of vitamin A that has a myriad of benefits including anti-ageing properties– due to its ability to boost cell turnover and cause skin cell rejuvenation. 

We often hear the terms retinol and retinoid in the same sentence, however it must be noted that although all retinol are retinoids, not all retinoids are retinol. Retinol is the more effective of the two non-prescription variants, and when used in a skincare routine, it has the capacity to boost cell turnover and aid in collagen production.

What are the types of retinol or retinoids?

Here are some of the different types of retinoids:

  • Retinol
  • Adapalene
  • Tretinoin
  • Tazarotene
  • Trifaro
  • Isotretinoin
  • Retinoldehyde
  • Retinol esters

However, Retinol is a very specific type of retinoid. It’s what dermatologists and estheticians recommend due to the vastly positive findings regarding its anti-ageing properties.

What does retinol do? 

  • Retinol not only smoothens existing fine lines and wrinkles, but also reduces the formation of new ones.
  • Retinol exfoliates the skin at the cellular level, thus revealing brighter, smoother and fresher skin which overall leads to brightening dull skin.
  • Retinol treats acne by not only controlling oily skin, but also by preventing pores from being clogged which in turn results in fewer blackheads, cysts and pimples
  • Retinol has the ability to fade dark spots by evening out skin tone over time–fading dark sunspots, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots.
  • Retinol is also able to reverse the damaging effects on the sun: the antioxidants in retinol help to repair sun-damaged skin, by lightening dark spots.
  • Retinol is efficient in improving the texture of your skin–which will gain more turgidity, structure, and strength when collagen production is increased
  • Cell turnover on the skin’s surface will occur more rapidly.

Benefits Of Retinol (What Does Vitamin A Do?)

Vitamin A is naturally produced by the human body but is known to decrease as the body ages. This is the reason that babies have softer, more supple skin. Vitamin A aids in new cell turnover which thereby leads to younger looking skin.

How retinol actually works

As humans age, the average time for skin cell turnover can rise up to 12 weeks, in comparison to younger skin only requiring 4-6 weeks. However, ingredients like retinol helps accelerate the slow cell turnover by allowing faster cell progression through the skin and the natural removal of the top layer of dead skin–allowing newer, more plump cells to be pushed closer to the surface. This keeps the skin from becoming dry, dull, pigmented, or prone to acne– and it can also help your other skin care products penetrate the skin better.

Do’s and Don'ts of retinol


It is imperative that you choose the right strength for your skin type: for sensitive skin, it is recommended to try retinyl palmitate. For ‘’normal’’ skin: retinol or retinaldehyde, or adapalene (Differin) for oily, acne-prone skin.

Alternate harsh products: Don’t use acne products, acids, or peels on your face on the nights you use a retinoid, or you’ll risk irritating or burning your skin.


  • It is important not to use too much retinol at once, follow the recommended daily usage and always measure the quantity– usually it is recommended that a pea-sized drop of serum, or a thin layer of moisturiser to be used 1x/week for one week, 2x/week for two weeks, 3x/week for three weeks, then every other night indefinitely. 
  • Retinoids can make your skin extra sensitive to the sun, causing sunburns or discolouration, so load up on SPF 30 or higher each morning, and do not skip your daily sunscreen routine

Use Retinol only at night and wear SPF every day

Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays, and sunlight decreases the product’s efficacy. Many dermatologists advise patients to use retinoids exclusively at night and to use a daily broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher throughout the day. Furthermore, when using retinol, one should constantly be aware of the weather forecast and trips to hot and humid locations.

Watch out for harsh side effects

Retinoids have multiple side effects and will vary depending on the user and the formulation. Common side effects are irritation, redness, sun sensitivity, and skin drying.

However, it must be noted that while mild irritation, dryness, and sun sensitivity are normal, intense flaking, redness, and burning are not. And those with especially sensitive skin or who struggle from conditions like rosacea or eczema should be cautious of retinol or avoid it entirely.

Retinol creams or moisturisers: lower-strength retinol

If you have never used retinol before or have sensitive skin, it’s best to use a cream with lower-strength retinol. You will see exceptional results, especially when applied daily. These moisturisers with lower retinol percentages are also ideal for combining with our boosters or treatments.


It may be clear to you by now that retinol may be the answer you have been waiting for. Speak to a specialist today to find out which type of retinol is good for your skin type, and watch as it completely transforms your skin!

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