You’ve probably come across retinol on an ingredient list, or heard about it as an all-star anti-ageing or blemish-fighting ingredient. We’re here to break down what it is — and why retinol one of the most recommended over-the-counter skincare ingredients.
What is retinol?
Retinol belongs to a class of substances called retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, a substance our bodies cannot produce naturally. Retinol itself is a reformulated, weaker version of prescription-strength tretinoin. It’s most commonly found in nighttime serums, like SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum.
Retinol has been used for decades to address:
- blemish-prone skin
- visible signs of ageing — like sun damage, fine lines and hyperpigmentation
How does retinol work?
Retinol prevents the breakdown of collagen, while simultaneously encouraging rapid cell turnover in our skin. Some believe that retinol thins the skin, but it's clinically proven to thicken the subcutaneous layer of the skin — which is where wrinkles originate.
Retinol works two ways on hyperpigmentation, or dark spots: it removes dark pigmentation while curbing the production of melanin, which is what causes dark spots.
As a blemish treatment, retinol effectively unclogs pores by removing the dirt, oil and bacteria responsible for breakouts. By clearing debris from pores, retinol also ensures that other helpful, blemish-fighting ingredients can reach deep into your skin.
Why can’t I use retinol any time of day?
Only apply products containing retinol as part of your nighttime routine. Retinol helps to reveal delicate new skin, which in turn, is very vulnerable to the sun (even if you’re wearing SPF). In general, it doesn’t do well when exposed to sunlight and air. Anything derived from vitamin A is likely to break down in daylight or with oxygen exposure, which is why the best retinol products are packaged in opaque, tightly sealed tubes.
Apply it at night after you’ve washed your face: a pearl-sized amount will do the trick. A little bit of Retinol Serum goes a long way.
Is retinol safe for all skin types?
Because it's so versatile, retinol is ideal for many different skin types. It's common to experience a bit of redness, dryness, or irritation when you first start using retinol. If this persists for more than a few weeks, try using the product every other night.
If you have sensitive skin, try a patch test first for a couple of days. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about incorporating retinol into your routine.