Be an A stu­dent: All about retinol

Lauded as one of the only ef­fec­tive in­gre­di­ents to com­bat age­ing, Sarah Simp­son from beau­ty­heaven.co.nz ex­plores what makes this the gold stan­dard in skin­care and why it should be­come part of your beauty arse­nal

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WWhile retinol can sound like an ag­gres­sive in­gre­di­ent and may con­jure up im­ages of red, raw skin it is, in fact, the Holy Grail if an­ti­age­ing is on your wish list. With its abil­ity to ex­fo­li­ate the skin and pro­mote an in­crease in col­la­gen pro­duc­tion, it’s es­sen­tial for any­one in their thir­ties or over who wants to com­bat fine lines and wrin­kles.

WHAT IS RETINOL?

Vi­ta­min A is the name of a group of fat-sol­u­ble retinoids that in­clude retinol, reti­nal, and retinyl es­ters. “This vi­ta­min is a mul­ti­tasker with its in­volve­ment in im­mune func­tion, vi­sion, re­pro­duc­tion, cel­lu­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion and when it comes to our skin, pro­mot­ing skin re­newal and col­la­gen stim­u­la­tion,” ex­plains Katy Ba­con, ed­u­ca­tion and sales man­ager for Mu­rad Asia Pa­cific. Put sim­ply, as it’s de­signed to help sup­port cell growth, retinol is one of the most crit­i­cal vi­ta­mins to add to your skin­care regime if anti-age­ing is a pri­or­ity.

WHO SHOULD USE IT?

Any­one who wants to com­bat the signs of age­ing would ben­e­fit from in­cor­po­rat­ing retinol into their day-to-day skin­care. “Skin re­newal and col­la­gen pro­duc­tion start to de­cline in our thir­ties, hence the rea­son why fine lines and wrin­kles start to crop up over this time. Thanks to its abil­ity to in­crease cell turnover and build col­la­gen, retinol is the ideal prod­uct to be us­ing at night,” says Katy.

IS THERE AN AGE YOU SHOULD START US­ING IT?

It’s said that col­la­gen lev­els start to de­crease one per­cent per year from the age of 20, so start­ing to add this hero in­gre­di­ent into your daily regime will hold you in good stead for com­bat­ting any signs of age­ing that be­gin to ap­pear. “In your twen­ties, retinol is great for de­fend­ing skin while ad­dress­ing the first signs of age­ing. In your thir­ties, it will con­tinue to aid in pre­vent­ing fur­ther dam­age, and in your for­ties and fifties it’ll stim­u­late cell turnover and col­la­gen pro­duc­tion, and tar­get other age-re­lated con­cerns,” Katy ex­plains.

It’s the Holy Grail if anti-age­ing is on your wish list

HOW DO I BEST AP­PLY IT?

When deal­ing with an in­gre­di­ent that’s as ac­tive as retinol, it’s only nat­u­ral that there are some con­di­tions at­tached. No mat­ter what form of vi­ta­min A you’re us­ing, and in what for­mu­la­tion, it’s best ap­plied at night. This al­lows it to work to its best abil­i­ties at a time when the skin is most per­me­able. Katy also sug­gests that a slow and steady ap­proach to retinol is best. “I gen­er­ally rec­om­mend retinol prod­ucts be in­tro­duced grad­u­ally, start­ing with a cou­ple of ap­pli­ca­tions a week, be­fore build­ing up to a daily usage.” An­other vi­tal point to keep in mind is that us­ing this in­gre­di­ent can re­sult in the skin be­com­ing pho­to­sen­si­tive, mean­ing that us­ing an SPF is an ab­so­lute must, if it’s not al­ready part of your skin­care regime.

ARE THERE DIF­FER­ENT TYPES?

In a nut­shell, yes. While you’ll be most fa­mil­iar with retinol, there are dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions that all fall un­der vi­ta­min A – these in­clude the likes of retinyl palmi­tate, reti­nalde­hyde, retinyl retinoate and retinyl pro­pri­on­ate, which are widely used in skin­care prod­ucts. Some of these de­riv­a­tives con­tain a higher con­cen­tra­tion of retinoic acid, which pro­duces faster re­sults but is less tol­er­ated on the skin, hence the need to build your tol­er­ance grad­u­ally. And while we’re preach­ing pa­tience, don’t ex­pect mir­a­cles to hap­pen overnight. It’s a process, but one that will pay off in the long run.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT US­ING RETINOL?

Keep your prod­uct out of di­rect sun­light – vi­ta­min A is ex­tremely sen­si­tive to light so ex­pos­ing it to too much sun will de­grade the prod­uct. On this note, pack­ag­ing is key. Prefer­ably, you want your vi­ta­min A prod­ucts to be in an opaque con­tainer and, even bet­ter, in an air­tight one.

Re­mem­ber, lit­tle and lightly is best. It may take longer, but your skin will thank you for it. Once or twice a week is am­ple to be­gin with if you haven’t used this in­gre­di­ent be­fore.

You can use vi­ta­min A on your hands too. It’s the per­fect prod­uct to tackle those dark spots when they start to crop up. A word of cau­tion though, al­ways wear an SPF on hands dur­ing the day if you ap­ply vi­ta­min A to hands at night.

Your retinol arse­nal With the hero in­gre­di­ent retinol and other po­tent vi­ta­mins be­sides, it’s worth in­tro­duc­ing these won­der work­ers into your skin­care rou­tine if fight­ing fine lines and wrin­kles is your aim US­ING AN SPF IS AN AB­SO­LUTE MUST, IF IT’S NOT AL­READY PART OF YOUR SKIN­CARE REGIME

1 O COSMEDICS RETINOL CON­CEN­TRATE 1%, $130.2 ENVIRON FO­CUS CARE YOUTH + CON­CEN­TRATED RETINOL SERUM 2, $83.40. 3 EL­IZ­ABETH AR­DEN RETINOL CERAMIDE CAP­SULES LINE ERAS­ING NIGHT SERUM, $85 (30 CAP­SULES)AND $162 (60 CAP­SULES). 4 DER­MA­LOG­ICA AGE SMART OVERNIGHT RETINOL RE­PAIR, $180. 5 SHISEIDO BENEFIANCE WRINKLERESIST 24 PURE RETINOL EX­PRESS SMOOTH­INGEYE MASK, $93. 6 MU­RAD RETINOL YOUTH RE­NEWALSERUM, $189. 7 ESTÉE LAUDER PER­FEC­TION­IST PRO RAPID RE­NEWALRETINOL TREAT­MENT, $175.8 SKIN PHYSICS DRAGON’S BLOOD UL­TRA PLUMPING NIGHT CREAM, $80.

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