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Frequently Asked Questions About Retinol


Why Choose Retinol?


Retinol is one of the most common types of retinoids because it is available over-the-counter and less likely to be irritating for "beginners." After all, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. With too much retinol, you may end up with red, irritated, and peeling skin. When used with precaution, however, retinol has the potential to be one of the best preventative and proactive solutions for your skin—no matter your age.


Is Retinol Dangerous?


Many people are intimidated by retinol because it has long been associated with peeling, flaky skin. In reality, retinol is a well-researched ingredient with established credibility in the medical community. As far as we know, there are no long-term adverse effects from retinol use. While there are some side effects that some may consider unpleasant (having symptoms "get worse before they get better" is not uncommon), these are typically managed easily with proper preparation.


What Retinoids Work Best for Anti-Aging?


It is never too early to begin using retinol for anti-ageing purposes. However, different types of skin benefit from different types of retinoids. Skin that is mature may need prescription-strength products, such as tretinoin and retinoic acid. These can be up to 100 times more potent than over-the-counter retinol products. However, those seeking preventative care may do best to start with gentler, medical-grade retinol before working their way up. Those types of retinol are milder in dose or are encapsulated for a slower release. For those with young skin, it is better to go slow.




What Is Vitamin A?


Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that comes in two types: retinoids and carotenoids. The body converts both types into retinol and either store it in the liver or transports it throughout the body. When applied topically, retinol can increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen production.


What Are the Side Effects of Retinol?


It is a common misconception that retinol thins skin. Rest assured, however, this is not true. Because retinol stimulates collagen production, your skin will actually thicken and become stronger after you add it to your routine. Generally, peeling and flaking are most severe when you begin using retinol and eventually subside. Likewise, because your skin needs to acclimate to retinol, acne may worsen before it improves. Other common side effects include skin dryness. However, you may be able to manage this symptom and others with a diligent moisturizing routine.


Can You Be Too Young to Use Retinol?


It is always better to prevent problems than to try to reverse them. There are no known adverse effects of kids or teenagers using retinol. In youth, self-esteem often suffers because of acne. A good skincare routine can prevent that, making increased confidence yet another hidden perk of retinol. (You may also benefit from taking our skin quiz, no matter your age.)


What Type of Retinoid Should I Use?


In addition to retinol, there are many other types of retinoids available on the market. Those with particularly sensitive skin may want to consider beginning with retinoid esters (e.g. retinyl palmitate) before working their way up. Adapalene is an over-the-counter product particularly well-suited to those with acne, as it works to slow excessive growth and desensitize the skin to inflammation.




When Will Retinol Start Working?


How long it takes to see results depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to your skin type, the dosage of the product, and how much product is used. In general, you can expect to see the benefits of retinol after about 12 weeks of consistent use. Do not assume that more is better, as this can lead to disastrous results. Your best bet when using retinoids is to build up a tolerance. Start slow and work your way up. You do not necessarily have to use prescription-strength retinoids to see results. On the contrary, using a retinoid that is too strong can bring about more annoying (and unnecessary) side effects. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race!


How Can I Be Sure I'm Getting High-Quality Retinol?


It should come as no surprise that some people are taking advantage of the retinol craze by selling counterfeit products on Amazon or eBay. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The only way you can make sure you get high-quality, authentic products are to buy from reputable, authorized sellers like The Skin Spot. Don't risk your skin’s health for a good deal.


How Does Retinol Keep You Looking Young?


As a member of the retinoid family, retinol neutralizes any free radicals that might be causing collagen damage in the skin. Your body will naturally begin to produce less collagen as you age. Retinol can help preserve your collagen stores, stimulate new collagen production, and thicken the layer of skin where wrinkles form. Thus, existing wrinkles and fine lines may appear to be "smoothed over." New collagen production will also prevent new wrinkles from forming.


Can I Use Retinol Around My Eyes?


Many assume that the eye area is too delicate to be treated with retinol. In actuality, this area of skin can benefit the most from its smoothing, anti-ageing effects. It is important to note, however, that you should only use retinol around your eye area if you are sure your product is gentle enough for your skin. If you find retinol application on the eye area too drying, you may want to follow up with a rich moisturizer afterwards. Those with drier skin may benefit more from an eye cream, while those with oilier skin may do better with a gel.


How Does Retinol React to Sun Exposure?


It has long been known that retinol increases photosensitivity in the skin. In layman's terms, many people are aware that retinol makes skin more sensitive to the sun (and thus, more vulnerable to burns). Retinoids do break down in the sun, so it's best to look for opaque containers for your product and to limit retinol usage to your nighttime routine. Always remember to put on sunscreen, even if it's not sunny out; UV exposure is one of the top contributing factors to skin ageing (and skin cancer).




Is My Skin Type Right for Retinol?


While people with any type of skin can benefit from using retinol, certain individuals may want to take extra care to ease themselves into the optimization process. In particular, those with fair, sensitive, sun-damaged, or over-exfoliated skin should be extra cautious when introducing any active ingredients into their routine. Furthermore, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to stay away from vitamin A-derived products altogether. This means staying away from all products that contain retinol—even sunscreen. Otherwise, you may risk birth defects.


Does Retinol Stop Working?


For many people, the dramatic effects of retinol tend to plateau after the first six months. You may mistakenly believe that this means that retinol has stopped working entirely. Fortunately, this isn't the case. If anything, it's evidence that your skin has been responding well! Move on to a stronger strength solution to continue getting the best results. You should be able to continue reaping the benefits of retinol for well over a year.


Don't Be Afraid of Harness the Powers of Retinol


No matter your stage of life, there's a good chance that retinol has a place in your routine. Whether you want to clear acne, reverse signs of ageing, or are just on the hunt for a more radiant glow, retinol is a good choice. It's clear to see that retinol is more than just hype. Those in their late 20s or early 30s may especially benefit from using retinol as a preventative anti-ageing treatment.


How to Use Retinol for Acne


If you are using any other topical anti-acne products, consult with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon before introducing retinol into your routine. Otherwise, your skin may become immediately overwhelmed—and inflamed.


  • Ease retinol in your routine. Your skin needs some time to get used to any active ingredient, and retinol is no different. The retinization process can be particularly tricky. Begin by applying only every other night. If you have sensitive skin, you may also want to consider washing off the product after an hour or so. A good rule of thumb: The more irritated your skin is, the less you should apply. If your skin responds well, you can start applying retinol once nightly.

  • Reduce the risk of irritation. In addition to easing the retinization process, you can take extra steps to minimize the chances of inflammation. Dry skin tends to sting less, so wait at least 30 minutes after you wash your face to apply a retinol. Only use as much as you need, applying a small amount to all affected areas and spreading it out as far as you can.



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