Retinol is widely regarded as a gold standard anti-ageing ingredient, renowned for its ability to promote collagen production and minimise the signs of ageing. And yet, when it comes to choosing a product and introducing it into your regime, there’s still so much confusion. First of all, you need to understand the different types of retinoids and strengths. And then there’s how to avoid unwanted side effects like sensitivity and irritation. Read on for everything you need to know…

Why use a retinoid?

Highly regarded by skincare professionals all over the world, retinoids are second to none when it comes to improving signs of photo-ageing. Vitamin A can stimulate cellular turnover in the skin, pushing fresh skin cells to the surface for a smoother, youthful-looking complexion. This also helps to clear pores for blemish-free skin.

Understanding retinoids and their strengths

Retinol, along with other vitamin A-derived compounds like retinaldehyde, is widely known and discussed. Different skincare products offer varying concentrations of this potent ingredient. Choosing the appropriate strength depends on your skin’s sensitivity and previous experience with retinol. For beginners or individuals with sensitive skin, it is advisable to start with a low concentration, such as 0.1% or 0.3%.

Experienced users of retinol can consider higher concentrations, ranging up to 2%, to achieve more intensive results. When selecting a retinol product, ensure that the percentage of retinol is clearly stated.

It is crucial to gradually increase the strength of retinol you use to allow your skin to adjust. Begin by applying the product twice a week at night. If you experience slight irritation (which is normal), you can mitigate it by applying a gentle moisturiser before and after using retinol. Only increase the frequency of product usage when your skin feels comfortable and shows no signs of irritation.

Use it only at night

Retinol should ideally be used at night-time only, post-cleanse. It can make the skin photosensitive, and therefore even more susceptible to damage from the sun, so a regular sunscreen – ideally SPF 30 or 50 with broad-spectrum UVA cover – is essential at all times.

What is the right retinol for you?

The texture of retinol is entirely up to you and your skin type. For dry skin, you might prefer a retinol cream or oil. If you have oily skin, a light retinol serum may be better. Some of my favourite retinoid products include:

SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream

The SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream is a unique product that features a patented combination of an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and an (ELR) retinoid that provides effective and visible skin rejuvenation with little-to-no irritation. Expect a significant reduction in the appearance of wrinkles in as little as four weeks.

Revision Retinol Complete 

Retinol Complete combines the anti-ageing power of Retinol with a blend of antioxidants and botanical extracts to target the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while hydrating, brightening, and evening out skin tone.

Medik8 Crystal Retinal

Infused with a powerful derivative of vitamin A, the serum is formulated with a stabilised retinal that lightly resurfaces the skin to promote smoother-looking skin with a glass-like luminosity.

SkinCeuticals Retinol

Great for mature skin, this retinol calls upon an innovative delivery system that captures and stabilises retinol whilst Chamomile-derived Bisabolol counters irritation while boosting cell turnover.

La-Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum 

Pure retinol and gradual release retinol unite with nourishing ingredients like glycerin and thermal water to provide a formula suitable for even the most sensitive skins.

To find out more about retinol or for some bespoke advice, click here to enquire or to book a consultation.