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Whether you’re a longtime skincare user or just getting started on your self care journey, you’ve probably heard the word retinol  once or twice. Skincare can be overwhelming – trying to understand different concentrations, ingredients and their uses can become confusing very quickly. As medical aestheticians, we’re here to demystify the world of skincare for our clients. The first step to beautiful skin is understanding what you need and how to properly treat it!

How Does It Work?

Retinol is a type of retinoid, meaning a class of medication derived from vitamin A. Retinoids are used to treat various skin conditions, such as psoriasis, melasma, and even some forms of skin cancer. While many retinoids require a prescription, skincare products containing retinol are available as over the counter treatments. 

As a derivative of vitamin A, retinol is known to be highly effective in treating acne, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging including wrinkles, fine lines and sun damage. Chemically, retinol is made up of very small molecules that are able to penetrate deep into the skin, past the epidermis and into the dermis. This process helps to prevent the natural breakdown of collagen and promotes healthy cell turnover. In doing so, retinol is able to help maintain skin elasticity and often creates a plumping effect on the skin, resulting in smaller pores and a more even complexion. As a powerful repairative agent, retinol also helps to unclog pores and resurface damaged skin. 

Who Should Use Retinol? 

Retinol is effective as a preventative anti-aging measure, meaning that it may be possible to avoid signs of visible aging for longer. By preserving collagen, the skin is less likely to develop wrinkles earlier in life – starting treatment in your late twenties to early thirties should give you an advantage later on! Retinol is also commonly used as a treatment for mild acne and scarring, as it encourages the skin to repair itself and control the spread of bacteria. Retinol is not always suitable for sensitive skin, however, as it can cause increased photosensitivity and potential irritation. Speak to a licensed skin care professional to find out if retinol is right for you.