What do you know about retinol? Retinol is in most cosmeceutical skincare. The best retinol serum will have a high concentration of this active ingredient.
Here’s exactly what retinol does:
It not only smoothes your current fine lines and wrinkles, but also minimises the new ones that form. Meaning it can prolong your in clinic treatments.
Brightens dull skin
It exfoliates on a cellular level, revealing brighter, smoother, and, quite literally, newer skin.
It not only regulates oily skin, but also keeps pores from clogging, resulting in fewer blackheads, cysts, and pimples.
Fades dark spots
Over time, it’ll even out your complexion, fading sun spots, acne scars, hyper-pigmentation, and dark spots.
Retinol slows down your body’s ageing process.
Up until your early-30s, your cells turn over every 28 days, creating a fresh layer of untouched, pristine skin. After you hit your mid-30s, your cell regeneration slows down, turning over every 50, 60, or 70 days.
This slower cell regeneration is what causes your face to look dry, dull, and wrinkled, the very picture of ageing.
Retinol, however, sinks into your skin and speeds up cell turnover, in turn you get fresher, smoother skin again.
It essentially tricks your body into thinking it’s younger than it is.
You won’t see results overnight—it’ll take at least three months of consistent nightly use. Beginning with some reduction in fine lines, dark spots, and acne, but you will see results.
Not all retinols are the same.
Technically, retinol is just one of the many different types of retinoids. This is the umbrella term for all vitamin-A derivatives, including retinol that are on the market.
A shop purchased anti-aging formula, for example, could contain retinyl palmitate (the weakest of the retinoids). It could contain retinol (the next strongest and most tolerable), or even both of these. For the best retinol serum look at ingredients.
If using a retinol, I recommend finding a product that uses a Liposomal delivery system to ensure nutrients are absorbed into the skin. The liposomal nutrients are delivered directly to the skin by a lipid bi-layer similar to the body’s own cell membranes. These liposomes facilitate transport of nourishment into the skin. A liposome is essentially a tiny bubble made out of the same material as a cell membrane so they can deliver nutrients directly to the cells. Liposomal Retinol is a High-dose, encapsulated vitamin A (retinol) formulated to improve skin penetration. Stability is 30-55% better than pure non-encapsulated retinol.
Retinaldehyde (even stronger), or adapalene (the strongest over-the-counter option that’s also specifically formulated to treat acne). Or, you could ask your dermatologist to prescribe you even stronger retinoids, like tretinoin or tazarotene, which work faster and more effectively, but can also be extra irritating with lots of side effects.
So which is the best retinol serum? Ideally, you’d have an assessment to chat through the best option for your skin type.
Before you start using a retinoid…
Choose the right strength and for the best retinol serum it should be a cosmeceuital rather than shop purchased.
Try retinyl palmitate for sensitive skin, retinol or retinaldehyde for “normal” skin, or adapalene (a.k.a. Differin) for oily, acne-prone skin.
Use too much at once
Use a pea-size drop of serum, or thin layer of moisturiser, 1x/week for one week, 2x/week for two weeks, 3x/week for three weeks, then every other night indefinitely.
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.
Skip on the sunscreen
Retinoids can make skin extra sensitive to the sun, causing sunburns or, more annoyingly, discolouration, so load up on SPF 20 or higher each morning.
Retinoids don’t have to be irritating.
The best retinol serum won’t irritate. Because retinoids cause skin to shed cells faster than normal, you’ll likely experience a few weeks of flakiness, dryness, irritation, and/or breakouts, until your skin gets through the adjustment period. Luckily, there are things you can do to mitigate the effects.
First, choose the gentlest formula (again, retinyl palmitate or retinol), and start slowly—apply it just one night a week for one week, two nights a week for two weeks, three nights a week for three weeks, and then every other night (for sensitive skin) or every night (for “tough” skin) indefinitely.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should load up on retinol to speed up the process—you’ll only end up burning off your face. Instead, use just the tiniest amount on clean, dry skin at night.
If your retinoid is a night cream, use just enough to cover your face in a sheer layer of cream. If your retinoid is a serum (usually in a pump bottle or tube) or a prescription, apply a pea-size drop over the entire face, wait 20 minutes for it to absorb, and then apply your usual serums and moisturisers on top of it.
Just make sure to use your acne-fighting products (i.e. anything that includes benzoyl peroxides or salicylic acid) on the nights you don’t use a retinoid, unless you want to play fast and loose with irritation. Don’t worry—retinoids inherently fight breakouts and oily skin, so you won’t suddenly turn into one giant zit.
Retinoids don’t just help with wrinkles.
Sure, retinoids are the gold standard in wrinkle-preventing and line-smoothing treatments, but they’re also excellent at turning your face into a bright little marble. Because retinoids stimulate cell turnover, which increases collagen and elastin production,they’ll also help plump up your skin, clear and shrink pores, and fade dark spots and redness.
And we’re not just talking a little bit of improvement, either. Because retinoids work on a cellular level, not just a topical level like most skincare products do, they’re able to deeply resurface your skin, which can completely transform your complexion over time. Retinoids really are the key to perfect-looking skin.