facial care guide

The benefits of retinol for the skin

Among the considerable number of cosmetic products that are supposed to help you fight wrinkles, acne, blemishes and skin quality in general, there's one that's right up your alley. cosmetic ingredient which has been proving its effectiveness for 25 years. Retinol is probably the best anti-aging active ingredient, but also the most difficult to master because of its side effects. In this article, we'll look at how to master retinol, understand why vitamin A is so effective in diminishing wrinkles, spots, pores and acne, understand how to incorporate it into your skin care routine, and find out how it can be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, spots, pores and acne. facial care and find out about my cosmetics recommendations.

Action of vitamin A: Retinol

Now let's see how retinol boosts skin cells in the dermis and epidermis to treat and prevent the signs of aging and reduce acne.

Vitamin A increases the production of new cells in the dermis, shortening the skin's regeneration cycle, which normally lasts 30 days. This rapid cell regeneration makes it possible to exfoliate the most superficial part of the epidermis.

Retinol's keratolytic action removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores, regulates sebum production and eliminates the propionibacterium acnes bacteria responsible for acne.

But in reality, retinol is not an exfoliating active ingredient, it's an active ingredient with anti-aging properties, acting much more deeply in the dermis, notably by stimulating the production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid to reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture by increasing the thickness of the dermis.

However, some people tell me that their skin has become finer with vitamin A. In fact, only the epidermis will become finer at first, with the natural exfoliation of dead cells in the epidermis induced by increased cell regeneration. This is a tolerance phase, during which the skin may become irritated and red.

Retinol will also stop the hyperproduction of melanin by regulating melanocyte activity, which is why retinol is recommended for treating spots and post-acne hyperpigmentation. Retinol works on all fronts, which is why it's so important to learn how to master vitamin A.

7 rules for using retinol like a pro!

The first ruleThe best advice is to apply retinol to very dry skin, as retinol will penetrate too deeply into the skin on damp skin and cause irritation. 

The second ruleThe best thing to do is to start retinol gradually, i.e. every other day or every third day at first, to see how your skin reacts and adapt the frequency of retinol application accordingly. If you don't tolerate retinol well, switch to every fourth day, but if your skin reacts well, you can switch to every other day. Once the tolerance phase is over, after a few weeks you can apply retinol every day.

But you don't have to use retinol every night: it's still very effective even if you apply it one day on, provided you use it for a long time.

The third rule, is to use a pea-sized amount of retinol for the whole face. Applying too much retinol at first will increase the risk of irritation.

The fourth rule, is to moisturize your skin when using retinol.

The classic technique is to use a retinol serum and then apply a moisturizing cream on top.

But if you have sensitive skin, you can use the sandwich technique. This second technique involves first applying a thin layer of light moisturizer, then waiting 10 minutes before applying retinol to reduce irritation. And of course, reapply a moisturizer after the retinol.

Moisturizing your skin properly when you're new to retinol isn't just a question of technique. It often means choosing a richer moisturizing cream than you would normally use, as retinol tends to dry out your skin.

For example, if you have normal to oily skin, I recommend you choose a cream for normal skin, or if you have normal to dry skin, I recommend you choose a cream for dry skin.

I'll be making some pretty specific recommendations about moisturizers later in the video.

The fifth ruleThe only thing to remember is that you shouldn't combine retinol with other irritating active ingredients such as exfoliating acids or vitamin C during the tolerance period, i.e. until you're perfectly tolerant to retinol. Once the retinol tolerance period is over, you can use exfoliating lotions again.

But that's not all: stop using sunscreens containing alcohol, or any other cosmetics containing potentially irritating ingredients such as essential oils or known allergens.

The sixth rule is to use SPF 50 sun protection every morning, as retinoids will make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

The seventh ruleis to apply retinol evenly to the face. A classic mistake is to mix retinol with moisturizer too quickly and without mixing well, which can lead to poor distribution of retinol on the skin.

And if, despite all these rules, the introduction of retinol goes badly?

If retinol dries out your skin, I recommend applying a generous layer of a richer moisturizing cream than for your usual skin type, and slowing down the frequency of application.

But in the event of severe irritation, you should stop using retinol and all other irritating active ingredients and begin a repair phase lasting 10 to 15 days. 

After this repair period, you'll need to reapply retinol using the "sandwich method".

And if all goes well?

All that's left is to gradually increase the frequency to daily or every other day, and why not consider increasing the dosage.

Then you can gradually reintroduce exfoliation and integrate other active ingredients depending on your main skin problem.

And if you don't see any results?

If after 12 weeks of retinol use, not counting the tolerance phase, there is no noticeable improvement, consider switching to another product.

I would remind you that retinol is not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding or if you can't protect yourself from the sun.

The different retinoids: Retinol, Retinoic acid, Retinal, Retinol ester

But first, a reminder about the different retinoids used in cosmetics, as there are 4 different active ingredients and this can be confusing at first. On this guide I answer a your frequently asked questions about retinol

Retinoic acid is the active form of vitamin A, meaning it doesn't need to be transformed to be effective, which is why it's much more potent than retinol, which requires 2 metabolisations to transform into retinoic acid.

It's only available on prescription, as it's the most potent form of vitamin A, but also the one with the most side effects. On contact with our skin, retinol is metabolized into retinaldehyde, and retinaldehyde is transformed into retinoic acid.

We also have retinol esters, which require 3 transformations before becoming active, so retinol esters are not very effective.

What's serious is that some companies sell retinol esters such as Retinol Palmitate as retinol, or call it Pro Retinol, boasting of its great tolerability, but forget to mention its lack of efficacy.

The advantage of retinol esters is that they can be used in combination with other active ingredients, if you have ultra-sensitive skin and can't tolerate retinol, or around the eyes.

Last but not least, a balanced diet is a good source of vitamin A, as well as beta-carotene, which can be directly transformed into retinal.

At what age should I start taking retinol?

Now, when do I recommend starting to use retinol?

From the age of 25 onwards, because that's when the cell regeneration cycle starts to lengthen and collagen production begins to decline, resulting in sagging skin. This diagram shows the slow but steady decline in collagen production by our skin cells.

In the case of severe acne, a dermatologist may prescribe a retinoic acid treatment before the age of 25.

The first effects of retinol will be fully visible after 2 to 4 months, but in aesthetics as elsewhere, prevention is better than cure.

How do I apply retinol?

My guide to common mistakes and how to get started with retinol

Having said that, you shouldn't apply retinol as if you were drinking from the fountain of youth, because if used incorrectly, retinol will dry out and irritate your skin.

This phenomenon has led brands to promote other active ingredients which are much less effective for anti-aging, but which do not have the undesirable effects of retinol. To avoid undesirable effects, there are certain rules to follow:

The first rule is to apply retinol to very dry skin, as retinol will penetrate too deeply and cause irritation on damp skin, so wait 2 to 3 minutes between cleansing your skin and applying retinol.

The second rule is to moisturize your skin properly when using retinol, and here there are two methods. The first is to apply a moisturizing cream after the retinol application. The second method is for people with very sensitive skin, or who have already used retinol and stopped because of the side effects. This second technique consists of starting with a moisturizing cream and then waiting 20 minutes before applying retinol to reduce irritation.

The third rule is to start retinol gradually, i.e. every other day at first, to see how your skin reacts and to adapt the frequency of retinol application to your skin. If you can't tolerate retinol, switch to every third day, but if your skin reacts well, you can switch to every third day after a few weeks, and then every day if all goes well. Even if you only use retinol every other day, it's still very effective, provided you use it for longer.

The fourth rule is that retinol should not be combined with exfoliants such as fruit acids, glycolic acid, exfoliating scrubs and even vitamin C for the more sensitive during the tolerance period, i.e. until you are perfectly tolerant of retinol. Once the retinol tolerance period is over, you can reintroduce a vitamin C serum in the morning.

The fifth rule is to use sunscreen every morning, as retinoids are photosensitizing.

Combine retinol with other ingredients?

Combinations are possible. The first possible combination is Niacinamide, which is very useful for people with sensitive skin, as vitamin B3 helps the skin to protect itself against the side effects of retinol by boosting ceramide production.

The other ingredient that can be combined is hyaluronic acid, which helps to hydrate the skin. Indeed, with the increase in the cell cycle and the exfoliation of the epidermis, the skin can become dry, and hyaluronic acid is a very good moisturizer.

Product recommendations :
So now I'm going to tell you about the products I recommend:

Eye contour :

The skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most fragile on the face. It has a low sebaceous gland content and is also constantly solicited by the orbicularis muscle, which is located in contact with the skin.

All these particularities explain why the eye contour is the first area where the signs of aging appear. To treat and prevent the signs of aging around the eyes, I can offer you two solutions.

Retinoids on prescription:

Adapalene is a new-generation retinoic acid that's highly effective against acne, and although we don't have many studies on its anti-aging effects, we can assume that it's also highly effective against sun spots and wrinkles.

This product requires a doctor's prescription, as it is teratogenic and therefore cannot be used if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, which is not the case with the other retinoids I'm going to introduce. One of the advantages is that the molecule is active, i.e. the skin doesn't need to transform it to make it effective.

It's highly effective against acne, as it causes a kind of almost permanent cell turnover and renewal, which means that pimples don't come on as easily, pores don't clog up as much, and there's much less retention.

Before rushing to buy Adapalene, it's important to know whether it's the retinoid that's right for you: good candidates are acne sufferers or those who want to effectively reduce wrinkles and dark spots, but if you're in your 20s or 30s and want a preventive treatment, you'd be better off choosing retinol.

The product I can recommend is Differin gel, which is subject to medical prescription. I recommend using it in the evening and applying a moisturizing cream before using adapalene to minimize irritation.

You can also use adapalene on your hands if you have sun spots, in which case there's no need to apply a moisturizer beforehand. However, I don't recommend applying adapalene around the eyes, as this is too sensitive an area.

Retinol serums 

Now for retinol-based cosmetics, the criterion to look at is concentration.

Natural anti-wrinkle serum from Typology

A retinol serum containing 99% of naturally-derived ingredients.

Retinol cream

A passioni Drunk Elephant

A cream containing 1% of retinol! It's ideal for mature skin looking to improve wrinkles and blotchiness.

Give your opinion on retinol products: