I know you’ve heard about retinol before. You’ve read it, seen it, and been preached at by everyone from a celebrity to your favorite Instagrammer.  The benefits of retinol are hard to hide. The magic ingredient does everything from smoother, firmer, and more radiant skin to diminished signs of aging. 

No wonder everyone is starting to turn their attention towards this age-defying wonder ingredient — thanks to its ability to prevent and treat breakouts in acne-prone skin. Here’s what you should know about retinol skincare benefits so that you can do the right things for your skin today.

A Woman Holding a Retinol Serum

Retinol: What is it?

Retinol is the scientific name for vitamin A. The human body produces this chemical naturally, but not in sufficient quantities. As more people spend time away from home each day, they may find that their skin has begun to age prematurely. One way to combat these signs of aging is by supplementing your skincare routine with retinol.

It is absorbed by the skin and transformed into retinoic acid, the active form of vitamin A. Retinoic acid works by targeting free radicals generated by exposure to the sun. In addition, the retinoic acid binds to specific genes found in fibroblasts stimulating the production of elastin and collagen, which plumps the skin ridding it of premature signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.

 While it is occasionally used to treat acne and any accompanying scarring, isotretinoin (prescription retinoid) and other anti-inflammatory and antibacterial medications are often utilized to treat nodulocystic acne. Additionally, retinol stimulates the natural exfoliation process, revealing a smoother, more even-toned complexion.

Skincare benefits of retinol

Antiaging properties

Wrinkles, lines, and creases make your skin appear dull and saggy. To counter this, retinol stimulates collagen formation and inhibits degradation. What you get is plumped skin that has fewer wrinkles and fine lines.

In addition, it helps your skin shed the old worn-out cells. The exfoliation reveals a new skin layer free of scars and uneven skin tone with a smooth complexion.

Corrects hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a consequence of increased melanin production by skin cells. Retinol corrects the dark spots by dispersing melanin granules, degrades them, and regulates their concentration in the skin. Moreover, it facilitates the regeneration of new skin cells with an even skin tone.

Treats acne

Acne has characteristics such as excess sebum production, clogged pores, and accumulation of dead skin cells. According to Lindsey Bordone, retinol stimulates skin cells to divide. This cellular turnover removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and removes excess sebum.

Has antioxidant properties

Retinol possesses impressive antioxidant attributes. Free radicals are the free atoms that wreak havoc on your skin. It scavenges free radicals in the skin and stabilizes them putting their adverse outcomes in check. Antioxidants protect the skin from dullness and premature signs of aging.

Some Myths About Retinol

Quick results

When using over-the-counter retinoid, expect the see the results after 4 to 6 months. You might hear someone saying that these products show the results in 4 to 6 weeks. That is true when you are using a prescription retinoid.

Applying more gives better results

Less is more. Dermatologists recommend using a pea-sized amount on your skin. Using a higher amount of retinol may make the skin dry and flaky.

Retinol is an exfoliant

Although retinol helps in shedding old skin cells, this is not its primary activity. Retinoic acid, the active retinol, acts as a messenger that stimulates cells to divide. As new cells are produced, they replace the old skin layer. What this does is stimulate the natural exfoliation process of your skin. But, themselves, they are not able to exfoliate. 

Tips: How to include retinol in your routine?

Retinol Tips for Beginners

Apply it at night

It is an unstable chemical and may break down when exposed to light. You won’t get better results if you use your AM routine. Maryann Mikhail, MD, recommends using retinol after cleansing the skin in your PM routine.

Start with low concentrations and build up gradually

Since it stimulates the peeling of skin layers, it may irritate your skin at first. Dermatologists advise using every other day and gradually buildup the concentration while looking at how your skin responds.

Pair it with moisturizer

Skin tolerates retinol better when paired with a moisturizer like hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant with an impressive ability to draw moisture from the environment, hydrating and improving the feel of the skin. Maryann Mikhail, MD, advises using the sandwich technique for this pairing. First, you will need to do a face wash, then apply your retinol serum before using a moisturizer and sunscreen at the end.

Key Takeaways

Retinol is an age-defying skin treatment that can do wonders for your skin. It’s a natural source of vitamin A, which helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and creates a smooth, firm texture. Many cosmetic products contain retinol, but you should be careful when choosing one. Retinols vary in strength and effectiveness, so read the label carefully. Using retinol in your PM skincare routine is always better if you want the best results.