How Does Retinol Work? A Short Guide to Retinol

Retinol is a substance known for dealing with acne and having a strong rejuvenating effect on skin. In order to prevent adverse effects of retinol abuse, which includes skin flaking off or irritation, it’s advised to use retinol in moderation and gradually increase its volume in daily skin regimen. How does retinol actually work? When is the best time to start applying retinol creams? How long should a retinol treatment last?

How Does Retinol Work?

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative, commonly known for its anti-ageing properties. Ever since it was discovered in the late 80’s, there has been no other substance that would be able to deliver similar, stunning results. Why is that? In a moment we will try to explain this.

Fibroblasts are cells responsible for stimulating skin to produce our own elixir of youth. It’s made from collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, and has a smoothing and suppleness-improving effect on skin. As we get older, the activity of fibroblasts goes down. Even though ageing processes and fotogaieing of skin that follows shortly after are inevitable, you can delay them. And retinol is the substance having the power to do so. Retinol penetrates skin, reaching the lowest layers to stimulate fibroblasts. As a result, skin remains supple, smooth and resilient – in a word, youthful-looking.

Additionally, retinol repairs skin from within, meaning that it forces old and damaged cells to give up their place to newly-formed skin cells. Additionally, retinol unclogs pores which prevents inflammation. Lastly, through encouraging skin to shed dead skin cells faster, retinol reduces discolorations, no matter of their origins.

When Is the Best Time To Start Applying Retinol Creams?

Introducing retinol creams to the daily skin regimen should take place when the levels of collagen and elastin in skin drop, which often happens around 25 years of age. It’s also recommended to use retinol as a prophylaxis or as a preventive measure taken after noticing first fine lines.

How To Start Using Retinol?

As mentioned earlier, this substance has to be introduced to a daily beauty ritual in small steps. It’s worth starting with skincare products whose concentration of retinol doesn’t exceed 0.2-0.5%. This amount is sufficient to prepare skin for increasing the dosage of this substance gradually. Retinol has to be applied at bedtime to cleansed and dry skin. The amount used should be small. In case of discomfort or dryness, it’s suggested reaching for a moisturizer, or any other cream that soothes and hydrates skin. For the first two, three weeks the chosen retinol cream has to be applied not often than twice a week, every three days. If no adverse effects are triggered within this period, you can start applying retinol every other day.

Later, after six, eight weeks since the beginning of the retinol treatment, you can reach for a 1-2% retinol cream. There is no need to reduce the frequency of application, unless you notice some disturbing skin lesions – then using retinol twice a week should suffice.

How Long Should a Retinol Treatment Last?

Six months is the upper limit of how long you should use retinol. The good news is that the results should be achieved after just three months. It’s worth realizing that it’s better for the skin if you start the treatment when there is less sun exposure, which is autumn and winter. No matter the season you apply retinol to the skin, you must always use sunscreens (SPF 30 is minimum, SPF 50 is optimal) to avoid pigmentation.

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