October 8, 2021

Retinol: All about this not-so-secret miracle ingredient

Every so often an ingredient hits the skincare world that promises to solve your skincare worries practically overnight. 

Well, maybe not overnight. More like gradually over several consecutive weeks– but such a miracle product couldn’t possibly exist, right? 

Indeed it can! Though it’s less the stuff of miracles and more the work of a little powerhouse nutrient called vitamin A. 

We’re talking about retinol, people! 

Retinol is a type of retinoid, or a derivative of vitamin A, that has become a darling of the skincare world over the years. Why? Because it’s a multitasking giant. 

It can clear acne and help heal scarring, boost collagen and smooth lines and wrinkles, fight UV rays and free radical damage to the skin, and on top of all that, help improve its texture and tone. 

While many people think of retinol as merely an exfoliator– though it does help remove dead skin cells, helping keep your pores clear –retinol imparts most of its benefits by working its way deep into your skin to encourage cell turnover, repairing damage to skin cell DNA caused by the sun, pollution, and other environmental stressors. The result? Refreshed and rejuvenated skin with a brighter, more youthful complexion, fewer blemishes, and an even skin tone. Retinol also helps skin stay hydrated and become stronger, thicker, and more resilient by boosting the production of elastin and collagen, making it a beloved anti-aging ingredient. 

These effects, however amazing, are not instantaneous. It will often take users several weeks to start seeing noticeable results, but starting slow and giving the skin time to adjust to the retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the active part of the retinol, and introducing your skin to it gradually is key to avoid developing the redness, dryness, and peeling that’s known as retinization.

While a little flakiness and exfoliation is to be expected when starting retinol, retinization occurs when users start with a formula that’s too strong for their skin or start by using too much too quickly without giving their skin enough time to adjust. Dermatologists suggest that while most skin types are able to handle using retinol, all skin types should be able to build up gradually week by week. A good rule of thumb if you’re new to retinol is using it every third night during your nightly routine the first week and every other night the second week until your skin is able to handle applying it nightly. Using a little moisturizer during your routine is a great way to manage flakes and any extra dryness in the early stages of retinol use, but we think you’ll be just fine with the healing Vitamin C and soothing shea butter found in our Evening Night Cream

While retinol works for most people, some may have more sensitive skin and even with gradual use find retinol to be too abrasive for their skin. This is where finding a natural carotenoid, or plant-based version may work best for you. A popular choice is Blue-Green Algae, (also called spirulina) which works in the skin in similar ways. 

This type of plant-based ingredient mimics much of what retinol does. Blue-Green Algae can brighten the skin and impart anti-aging effects, introduce powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals caused by UV rays, and can provide anti-inflammatory effects with its myriad vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Pro tip: you can find this nutrient-packed ingredient along with several other natural actives in our Clarifying Night Cream

So we’ve mentioned UV rays a couple of times, and as we all know, wearing sunscreen is the number one rule of skincare. But dermatologists agree that retinol should be used at night for a few reasons– 

One is so that it can work undisturbed in your skin while you sleep, and the other is that UV rays degrade and neutralize retinol’s power. Using retinol during the day also makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Many people think it’s because retinol thins your skin, but it’s simply because the top protective layer of your skin has been exfoliated, making UV rays more able to cause damage to your skin– which we know introduces discoloration and premature aging. 

To both protect your investment, your skin, and keep the harmful effects of UV rays at bay, a broad spectrum SPF is 100% essential if you’re going to use retinol during the day. But if you find yourself needing a little extra TLC, the Restorative Night Cream has got your back. From there, it’s just great skin and sweet dreams.

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