Retinol—an ingredient with long-standing and well-established value in dermatology, and yet, historically underestimated. If you’re like most people, you may not know exactly what it is, what it does, and who should use it. Retinoids (the family of Vitamin A from which retinol and retinoic acid derive) are very potent and highly effective when applied to the skin due to their multitasking benefits. But, because it’s a relatively complex ingredient, there’s a lot of chatter and buzz on the internet regarding its capabilities and perceived negative effects. With the insight of dermatologist wisdom, we’re here to clarify 8 misconceptions about retinol and prove to you that you certainly should be incorporating this staple skincare ingredient into your daily regimen.
1. Retinol shouldn’t be applied in the morning.
Because retinol breaks down when it’s exposed to light, it’s generally assumed you should only apply it at night. But, when formulated with high-quality ingredients, a retinol serum, like Retinol Vitamin C Concentrate, is quickly absorbed into the skin (usually within 15 minutes) before you ever even leave the house. Contrary to popular belief, you can and should absolutely use a retinol in the morning. Implementing it into your routine twice daily will only improve and accelerate your results.
2. Retinol thins your skin.
This is far from the truth. Retinol does quite the opposite. Actually, it’s been proven to increase the thickness of the epidermis by as much as 50% and supports the skin’s own production of hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. Plus, according to dermatologists, retinol and prescriptive retinoids are the gold standard ingredients in skincare. Did you know it's so effective that it's prescribed and recommended for both aging and acne concerns? If retinol did, in fact, thin the skin, it would not and could not uphold this title.
3. Retinol can only be applied to mature skin.
False. While retinol is believed to only treat aging concerns, it is also very helpful for acne-prone skin - improving cell turnover and restoring a healthy-looking skin tone. In fact, dermatologists prescribe retinoids for teenagers ages 12+. Many brands don’t attempt to include retinol in their acne clearing products due to the risk of irritation. But when done well, it’s entirely beneficial.
4. You shouldn’t combine retinol and Vitamin C.
Vitamin C (and Vitamin E) actually improve the results you get from retinol. Many brands use the water-soluble Ascorbic Acid version of Vitamin C because it’s so inexpensive. Unfortunately, it requires a very acidic environment to be stable and effective. That’s not possible when formulated with retinol. However, you can formulate retinol with the much more stable and effective oil-based forms of Vitamin C like Tetrahyexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. Our Retinol Vitamin C Concentrate is a perfect example that this combination is both possible and highly effective.
5. Retinol exfoliates your skin.
Retinoids accelerate skin cell production. Due to this increased skin cell turnover rate (new skin cells replacing old skin cells), it isn’t uncommon that when using a retinol, your skin may flake or feel slightly irritated. And while these effects are most often associated with exfoliants, they are, indeed, effects of your retinol—and a sign of the wonderful things it’s doing for your skin. You can alleviate flaking and remove dead skin cells by buffing your face with a warm washcloth, or gently exfoliating with a product containing salicylic acid.
6. It makes you more sensitive to the sun.
The misconceptions regarding retinol and the sun are truly abundant. You may have heard this one before. But in reality, the most effective skincare ingredients can make your more sensitive to the sun, so you should always use a sunscreen. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30-50 and UVA & UVB protection.
7. It takes 3-4 weeks to see dramatic results.
While this might be ideal, it’s simply not true, or practical. With any good, effective skincare, dramatic results are achieved over at least twelve weeks of consistent use. The great news—in two weeks, you will likely begin to notice changes in the evenness and clarity of your skin tone, as well as your skin’s radiance. Plus, your skin will also likely feel more supple and smooth. But keep in mind, you’ll get your best, most optimal results over time. In fact, contrary to popular belief that your skin will become immune to retinol, your results will actually only continue to improve the longer you use it. Dermatologists can tell you their long-term retinoid users (5, 10, 15-year usage) have more beautiful, more refined skin tone and texture than the average person.
8. Stop using retinol the moment you experience irritation.
As mentioned above, retinol accelerates your skin cell turnover rate. This may result is flakiness and/or irritation. But be persistent and consistent. If you do experience some irritation, it typically peaks around day 12 to 14 and then subsides. If you do experience irritation, rather than foregoing retinol, reduce your usage to every other day and then increase to daily once your skin has adjusted. The bottom line though—irritation is a normal sign that your retinol is working.
So, there you have it! Not only are many of these myths on the web false but they may actually be hindering you from achieving your very best, most beautiful skin. Now, are you ready to introduce a retinol product into your skincare routine?