I am SO PUMPED about this post, mainly because this is a topic I’ve wanted to cover for some time now (& because EVERYONE has questions about retinol)! After thinking I didn’t need retinol in my life, I’ve now completely integrated it into my skincare routine. However, there were hesitations (does it really add something that my other 234234 products don’t already do?), and the transition didn’t come with challenges. Does retinol work?! Keep on reading for the dish!
what is retinol & what does it do?
Let’s start with the basics, so you’ll understand why this stuff actually works.
Retinol is the gold standard when it comes to anti-aging ingredients. It’s a form of Vitamin A, an ingredient that drives skin renewal and boosts collagen (which we all know starts to decline in your 30s…AHHH). To put it simply, this means less fine lines, wrinkles sun spots & even acne scarring. The faster cell turnover helps with plumpness & brightness and reduces acne and blackheads when used over a longer period of time. There pretty much isn’t anything it DOESN’T DO.
The interesting thing? It exfoliates, but much differently than a glycolic acid. Retinol exfoliates your skin on a CELLULAR level. I did a post recently on the most powerful anti-aging products, and of course, retinol was on the list!
what’s the best way to add retinol into your routine?
Everyone’s skin reacts differently to retinol, so it’s important to incorporate into your routine SLOWLY.
After researching which over the counter retinols were the BEST (per usual – on my go-to beauty review sites), I decided to start my “retinol journey” with SkinMedica Age Defense Retinol Complex 1.0. It got rave reviews, but what really sparked my interest was the fact that the retinol strength in this product is higher than most OTC retinol products. If I was going to do it, I wanted to go all in and as strong as possible. HOWEVER, I know my skin, and it’s not particularly sensitive. I knew that though I would likely have a reaction, it wouldn’t be something I couldn’t recover from in a short period of time. If you have sensitive skin, definitively take that into consideration when choosing your retinol product. It may make sense to go with a product that’s not as potent – you’ll still see results!
I started by using it once a week, at night before bed (always use it at night as sunshine can break retinol down and make it less effective). The following week, I increased usage to twice a week, and had a REALLY tough time dealing with my dry, flaking skin. To be honest, it was discouraging and part of me wanted to give up. Why should I be using a product that my skin isn’t reacting well to?! I even noticed I was more prone to breakouts, which was incredibly frustrating as I don’t normally struggle with acne. What was happening?!
Our skin is just not used to dealing with Vitamin A overload, so it takes time for it to adjust. And believe me, that time will come! Whatever you do, push through the first few weeks and you won’t ever have to turn back! The acne was a result of my skin purging all the bacteria it had stored underneath – bacteria that would have eventually resulted in a breakout. The expedited skin renewal that retinol triggers causes these breakouts to all happen at at once. Fun fun.
After two weeks of applying the retinol twice a week (& three weeks of using retinol in total), I started to notice my skin normalizing. I then began applying the retinol cream every other day before bed. I’m currently on week two of applying every other day, and though my skin is still slightly more dry than normal, the flakiness has subsided and I’m starting to see initial results.
what results are you seeing?
Apparently, you don’t see the full impact of retinol until using it for 12 weeks or so, but I think it’s safe to say that I’m seeing things adjust about 6 weeks in.
Now that the reactions have lessened, I’m noticing my skin is shinier than normal, especially the skin on my forehead. I legit feel like I’ve gotten Botox on my forehead, it’s that smooth & bright! I’ve also noticed (& this could also be a result of my fading tan), that my skin is more even throughout and feels softer.
I can’t wait to report back 3 months in and let you know how things are going! So far, I’m sticking to my routine and hoping for even better results as time goes on by.
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to using retinol is to NOT GIVE UP! Push through the first uncomfortable (& for me – plain embarassing with my flaky a** face) phase, and you’ll come out on the other end with younger looking, vibrant skin.