Retinol is one of those skincare ingredients that sounds 11/10 scary, which might be why you've put off using it in your skincare routine. But guys, it's not actually all that bad. It's actually very very good. And we don't want to jinx it - but we reckon you could be great mates.
To help you become acquainted with one another, we're going to give you a rundown on everything you need to know about this powerhouse anti-aging ingredient.
Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where host Leigh Campbell reveals the product that makes eye bags disappear. Post continues below.
What is retinol?
*Puts on lab coat*. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and is a powerful anti-aging ingredient that works to promote skin cell regeneration and increase collagen production - the side effects of this rude thing called 'ageing'.
In the words of an *actual* skin professional, "Retinol is the gold-standard of all skin care ingredients."
"It improves the luminosity of the skin by accelerating the skin-renewal process and enhancing the collagen production (which starts to decline in your 30s)," explained skin practitioner Sarah Hudson from Skin By Sarah Hudson.
So, how does it work? Well, according to Dr Giulia D'Anna from Dermal Distinction, "When applied to the skin retinol helps to break up the dead skin cells sitting on the surface, gently breaking apart the 'glue' or bonds that hold the skin together."
Okay, that's pretty neat! What kind of benefits will I see?
Retinol is a freak. It's crazy effective (which is why you see it in SO many different products) and it works wonders at unclogging pores, reducing fine lines, promoting cell turnover, evening out skin tone and texture, *breathes*, softening your skin and just generally making you look like a newborn baby. Swoon!
"The main benefit of retinol is that it speeds up the skin cell cycle. When skin cells come off the top of the skin, chemical messengers are sent to the bottom skin-producing layer to speed up production. This pushes skin from the bottom up through to the top at a quicker pace," said Dr D'Anna.
Basically, retinol helps shed off old skin cells and encourage newer, fancier skin to come through. "The skin looks less pigmented as the old dark cells are lost. The skin is brighter, more luminous and also holds more moisture." This means all of your moisturisers and serums can actually get in and do their job!
And if you suffer from acne or regular flare-ups, Dr D'Anna says you're in for a good time. "The bacteria and skin cells holding the sebum (oil) in are shed more frequently, meaning less breakouts." Hooray!
What's the go with the different strengths?
"Retinol comes in different strengths depending on the formulation, which may be a serum or a cream," said Hudson. "Prescription retinol will be prescribed by your doctor."
"Other retinol derivatives that don’t require a prescription such as retinyl palmitate, retinal acetate are more gentle (but weaker, too). There are also some excellent mimicking retinol ingredients such as Bakuchiol, which helps to improve skin firmness and elasticity and repair signs of ageing."