Retinoids are increasingly becoming a go-to option for skin concerns. Topical retinoids can be used to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, smooth out the appearance of wrinkles, as well as reveal healthy glowing skin.
I am an advocate of retinoids, having tried everything from prescription strength formulas to OTC brands. The results were so incredible that I quickly become a junkie, and have added them to my nightly routine 3x weekly. I soon found out that less is more when it comes to using retinoids, as I quickly succumbed to becoming a victim PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation)
WHAT ARE RETINOIDS?
Retinoids are a group of compounds which are a synthetic derivative of vitamin A. When applied topically, retinoids convert to retinoic acid with the help of specialized enzymes found in the skin.
Types of Retinoids:
WHAT DO RETINOIDS DO?
Retinoids have been deemed by some to be an anti-aging miracle cure. People always ask, “Does retinol permanently reduce wrinkles?” Or “ Does retinol make you look younger?” Here are the facts on retinoids, anti-aging, and other benefits of retinoids for the skin:
Are retinoids anti-aging? Simply put, the answer is yes. Retinoids will help slow down the aging process by increasing cell turnover, and building collagen in the skin which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But if you're well into the aging process and have a significant amount of wrinkles, don’t expect retinoids to be a miracle cure. In this case, retinoids will help to smooth out the existing wrinkles, giving the skin a slightly tighter and youthful appearance.
HOW TO USE RETINOIDS FOR ANTI-AGING?
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when starting off on your retinoid journey. Retinoids can irritate the skin especially when used in high doses. If you are a novice, it’s best to start using retinoids in smaller percentages. As your skin builds up tolerance, then you can slowly increase to a higher percentage.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE RETINOIDS?
In the beginning, it’s better to use retinoids 1-2x per week. Monitor your skin to see results. For seasoned retinoid users, I would advise 3-4x week at most.
Please be aware that retinoids can cause irritation, peeling, redness and even PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation). PIH is caused when the skin becomes inflamed and damaged, leading to scarring and dark marks that can be hard to get rid of. To avoid a case of PIH, I would advise anyone that is using retinoids to start slowly and use low percentages.
WHEN TO USE RETINOIDS IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
Retinoids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to light. Therefore, it’s better to use retinoids at night to avoid sun exposure. When using retinoids, please remember to always wear sunscreen during the day. I would recommend SPF 50 for maximum protection. Some people say that retinoids can be applied during the day. I highly discourage using it during the day, as it can cause hyperpigmentation especially with people of darker skin tones.
OTHER THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN USING RETINOIDS
Retinoids can lose their potency over time. Look for oil based formulas such as squalene rather than water based formulas, as water based formulas break down faster. Also look for packaging that is either in a tube, pump or airless dispenser to preserve shelf life.
Your skin develops immunity to Retinoids over time
The skin can develop resistance to skincare products in general, so it’s a good idea to switch up your skincare products from time to time. People develop a resistance towards retinoids over time. That’s why it’s not good to start using retinoids when you’re too young or start off with high percentages. Start off with the lowest percentage possible and work your way up. If not, retinoids will not work for you when you need them most.
WHERE CAN YOU GET RETINOIDS?
Retinoids are used in many OTC products. So there’s no need to visit a dermatologist unless you have a severe skin condition, and require a prescription for Retin-A. The most common forms of retinoids formulated in cosmetic products are: retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retinaldehyde.
Below is a curated list with some really great skincare products that contain retinoids. If you are looking to for something to add to your skincare routine or just getting started on your retinoid journey, these products are for you.
GLOW RECIPE AVOCADO MELT RETINOL EYE SLEEPING MASK
I love a good sleeping mask! This was first product that I ever tried from this Cult Brand. I’m always skeptical when trying new products, so I made my first purchase with caution.
The mask immediately soaked into my skin. I love this product! Its packed with all sorts of ingredients that help combat environmental aggressors and help restore aging skin. The key ingredients are: encapsulated retinol, avocado, niacinamide, and coffee berry. My skin actually drinks this up! This mask is extremely hydrating and smooths out fine lines when left on overnight.
THE ORDINARY RETINOL 0.5% IN SQUALANE
The results I’ve gotten from using this product actually took me by surprise. Before introducing this product into my skincare routine, I used to use Retin-A gel 0.05%. This product is less irritating than Retin-A. I love the fact that it’s in squalene, so there is an extra moisturizing factor. I apply it 3x week before my applying my night cream.
LA ROCHE-POSAY RETINOL B3 SERUM
One of the most popular serums by La Roche-Posay. This serum is great for sensitive skin. It helps to fight the first signs of aging, by targeting fine lines and wrinkles. This serum also works to hydrate the skin and help with uneven skin tone/ texture. It also contains vitamin B3, which makes this serum a powerhouse!
PETER THOMAS ROTH RETINOL FUSION PM NIGHT SERUM
This serum is packed full of goodness. It is potent mix of 1.5% micro encapsulated retinol, and powerful antioxidants (vitamin E & vitamin C). The time released retinol serum gradually releases retinol throughout the night. Non-irritating to the skin, this product is suitable for all skin types. It helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, as well as even out skin tone and smooths the texture of the skin. If you’re looking for a radiant complexion, then this is the serum for you.
PAULA'S CHOICE CLINICAL 1% RETINOL TREATMENT
This is an excellent treatment with 1% retinol. It contains other ingredients such as vitamin C, licorice root, and peptides. This potent cocktail helps to smooth fine lines, wrinkles, firms the skin and treats hyperpigmentation.
Learn how to optimise your skin and prevent premature aging
Achieving healthy, glowing skin can sometimes be challenging. Some of us haven’t been blessed with healthy skin, while others have damaged it over time. It can be hard finding the right ingredients that give us a healthy glow. Sometimes it’s a process of trial and error. Today, products on the market are loaded with actives, which can damage the skin if not used correctly.
I’m a firm believer in less is more. Strong products or layering too many products at once does not mean that you’ll achieve better results. On the contrary, it does more harm than good. Actives such as chemical exfoliants and retinoids should be used with caution. It’s equally as important to know how actives interact with the other ingredients in your skincare routine to avoid skin barrier damage.
A damaged skin barrier can wreak havoc on your skin, causing a host of problems. Choosing gentler options will lead you to the road of healthy skin. If you have already compromised your skin barrier, this would be a good time to introduce products that promote skin barrier repair. Take one or two days out of the week, dedicating them exclusively to skin barrier protection. Pick ingredients that add moisture, strengthen, protect and repair the skin.
THE BEST INGREDIENTS FOR SKIN PROTECTION
A popular ingredient in many skincare product formulations, hyaluronic acid works by binding water to skin cells. It is able to hold up to 1000 times its molecular weight in water. As we age, our body’s reserve of hyaluronic acid decline.
When the skin is dehydrated, the skin becomes vulnerable to damage from microorganisms and environmental aggressors. Adding a hyaluronic acid based serum to your skincare routine will attract moisture, increasing the skin's water content. With regular use, hyaluronic acid will hydrate, plump the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as maintain a healthy moisture barrier.
Hyaluronic acid is a wonderful option for dehydrated, dry, and flaky skin. Choosing leave-in products (toners, serums, creams) are best when using hyaluronic acid, as they penetrate the skin and work more effectively.
Ceramides are naturally occurring fatty acids found in the skin’s outermost layer. Their main role is to help keep the skin smooth and supple. As a vital component of the skin, ceramides helps to retain moisture, reinforce the skin barrier, protects against environmental aggressors, and reduces the visible signs of aging.
Without the proper amount of ceramides, the skin is unable to function properly. When the skin lacks ceramides, the skin barrier becomes compromised, which leads to dryness, irritation, and various skin conditions like atopic dermatitis. Ceramide levels in the skin can be depleted in colder climates, and by the overuse of exfoliants or soaps, which destabilise the skin’s pH levels.
As we age, the ceramide content found in the skin diminishes. According to scientific evidence, the body produces fewer ceramides after age 20, at a loss of 1% per year. Unfortunately we cannot stop aging, even as much as we’d like to. So in order avoid the skin going haywire, it’s important to incorporate ceramides into your skincare routine when you reach your 30’s and 40’s if you want to maintain healthy looking skin.
Ceramides are found in a wide range of skincare products. You’ll find them in creams, serums, cleansers, and toners. Ceramides are often paired with active ingredients such retinol and glycolic acid for deeper penetration. The good news is that the right skincare products can help replenish ceramide levels, increase moisture, and repair the skin barrier.
This ingredient is probably the most underrated when it comes to skincare. Glycerin is commonly used in skincare formulations to provide moisture, increase hydration, relieve dry skin conditions, accelerate wound healing and improve skin barrier function.
Glycerin is a powerful humectant that actually pulls water from the atmosphere and the deeper layers of the skin into the outer layers of the skin. Even though glycerin is the most effective humectant out there, it must be used with caution and works best when used in skincare formulations rather than in its pure form.
A wonderful yet tricky ingredient, glycerin should not be use in arid climates. When used in dry climates with low humidity, glycerin will actually draw water out of the skin into the atmosphere, causing dehydration (and in some cases blistering of the skin). This is known as the boomerang effect. It’s best to err on the side of caution, and only use products formulated with glycerin.
Adding peptides to your skincare regimen is an excellent way to give your skin the boost it needs. Peptides help to repair and rebuild damaged cells by triggering skin cells to produce collagen and elastin, slowing down the aging process and increasing firmness. Peptides also contain antioxidants, which assist in soothing the skin and reducing inflammation.
The use of peptides on a regular basis helps to preserve the skin’s youthful appearance by diminishing fine lines, plumping the skin, increasing hydration, improving skin tone, and reinforcing the skin barrier.
Peptides are found in every skincare product from cleansers, to masks, serums and creams. Select a leave-in product such as a serum or cream for maximum benefits, since the molecule size is smaller and penetrates deeply. Rinse-off products are a waste of money, and you won’t be able to reap the benefits.
Sunscreen has been proven to slow down the skin’s aging process by protecting the skin against photoaging. Most of the damage caused by UV radiation to our skin is undetectable to the naked eye. Often the effects of photoaging go unseen until it’s too late. Using sunscreen is a surefire way to boost your skin regimen and improve the skin’s appearance.
Wearing sunscreen protects harmful UV rays, lowers the risk of skin cancer, prevents premature aging, helps prevent hyperpigmentation, and improves overall skin health.
It’s important to choose a sunscreen that is right for you. Chemical vs natural, or SPF30 vs SPF50, the choice is entirely up to you. Remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when in direct sunlight, and try as much as possible to practice sun avoidance during peak hours.
Squalene is a lipid produced naturally by the skin cells. It is estimated that squalene makes up about 10-12% of your skin’s oil. With age, the amount of squalene production declines (usually around your 20s and 30s). As a result, the skin becomes drier and rougher.
Squalene is sourced from shark liver oil and vegetable oils. It is actually too unstable to be used in skincare products and has a very short shelf life. Squalene must be hydrogenated into squalane before it become a stable molecule.
Squalane is a powerhouse ingredient that has tremendous benefits for the skin. It is highly effective as an emollient, and is known for its antioxidant properties. For years it has been used in medicine to treat wounds and for various other skin problems. When used in skincare, squalane can reduce the appearance of scars, treat hyperpigmentation, reverse UV damage, and fight against free radicals.
Both squalane and squalene are found in moisturisers, cleansers, and serums. They both do a good job of locking moisture into the skin, making them excellent options for very dry and mature skin types.
Centella Asiatica is a medicinal herb that has been used in Asia for centuries to heal wounds and cure various ailments. It is commonly known as tiger grass, gotu kola, Indian pennywort, and cica. Today it is used as an ingredient in skincare to promote overall skin health. This medicinal herb is now used to combat the signs of aging, protect the skin barrier, and increase hydration.
Centella asiatica contains a high concentration of amino acids, fatty acids, and beta-carotene which make it so valuable. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to repair and soothe dry, red and irritated skin. Centella asiatica also increases hydration, protects the skin against environmental aggressors, boosts collagen production, and helps to calm acne prone skin.
An excellent addition to any skincare routine, this ingredient can be found in almost any type of skincare product and is suitable for all skin types.
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