The anti-ageing wonder ingredient you’re missing in your skincare routine

Photo credit: jacoblund - Getty Images
Photo credit: jacoblund - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

Retinol has been a buzzword in the beauty industry for a while now, with everyone from luxury brands developing retinol creams worth hundreds of pounds to supermarkets jumping on the trend and creating their very own retinol skincare products.

It’s the wonder anti-ageing ingredient everyone is raving about, and if you’re suffering from fine lines and wrinkles, dark circles or adult acne, it could be exactly what your routine is missing.

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To find out everything we need to know about retinol, we spoke to Dr Murad, dermatologist and founder of Murad Skincare, Dr Gabriel Serrano Founder of Sesderma and Amanda Bell, Pixi’s Global Makeup Artistic Director.

They explained to us what retinol is, how it works and why you need to add it to your skincare routine right now.

What is retinol?

"Retinol is one of the main forms of Vitamin A," Dr Murad said.

He explained: "It is an essential vitamin needed for new cell growth, and the health and maintenance of tissues and skin cells. It plays an integral role in anti-ageing skin care."

What are the benefits?

"Retinol is considered the gold standard for anti-ageing products, and for good reason. It dramatically improves all key signs of ageing, minimising the look of wrinkles and crow’s feet while lifting and firming skin," Dr Murad said.

Photo credit: Vesnaandjic - Getty Images
Photo credit: Vesnaandjic - Getty Images

But it’s not just found to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, it also works to brighten dark circles, reduce dullness and get rid of pesky breakouts.

Dr Serrano added: "It plumps the skin as well as reducing dark spots caused by photo-ageing, sun exposure, hyper-pigmentation, hormone changes and blemishes."

Hows does it work on the skin?

Dr Serrano explained as you get older, your usual 28-day skin cell renewal cycle slows down causing the skin to look dull and wrinkles to form.

Dr Murad added: "When retinol converts into retinoic acid, it induces exfoliation which allows skin cells to function normally and continue regular cell renewal. This is effective in treating wrinkles as well as acne."

It does this by encouraging the production of collagen and improving skin elasticity giving you a plump and youthful look.

How often should you use it?

Now for the big question, how often should we be using products that contain retinol in our routine? Well, it all depends on how sensitive your skin is.

Dr Murad said: "Sensitive skins may find retinol irritating at first, but you can build up your tolerance to it over time. Introduce it slowly by using small doses three times a week and build up to using it more frequently."

Dr Serrano recommends waiting 15 minutes after you've cleansed before applying retinol. You should use it every other night to begin within before using nightly if the product is safe to do so.

Top tip: "A common misconception is you shouldn’t use retinol around the eyes as the skin there is too sensitive, however this is completely false. Ideally you should be using it on this area daily as this is where most of the damage shows up," Dr Serrano said.

"Retinol products work particularly well when used overnight as they can make your skin more susceptible to UV damage," Amanda added. This is why it is also recommended that you apply a good SPF every morning when using retinol in your routine.

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What should you think about when buying a retinol?

With the market full of hundreds of retinol products it can be hard to know which one to go for. Dr Murad stresses it’s not all about the strength of the retinol but rather what other ingredients are in the product too.

Photo credit: webphotographeer - Getty Images
Photo credit: webphotographeer - Getty Images

"Traditional retinol formulas used high percentages without hydrating ingredients which caused redness and inflammation and even flaking. But, nowadays modern serums combine other actives to protect the moisture barrier and improve the skin’s condition," he said.

Amanda added: "A time release retinol with soothing ingredients in the formulation is the perfect balance for happy and healthy skin."

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Is there any skin type not suitable for retinol?

"Retinol can be used on all skin types as long as you tailor it to your needs," Dr Serrano said.

Adding, "For example, if you have severely dry or sensitive skin use a small concentration only 3-4 times per week and only use a small pea sized amount."

Top tip: "For those who are really struggling, you can apply a moisturiser before to help breakdown the retinol before it penetrates the skin," Dr Serrano said.

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There you have it, everything you need to know about retinol. Will you be adding a retinol product to your skincare routine?

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