POSTED: 3 Jun 2017


Retinol remains a mainstay in premium anti ageing treatments. It is often touted as the holy grail for increasing skin firmness and smoothing wrinkles but how effective is it? In this post, we explore the evidence behind retinol in anti ageing and how to incorporate it into your skincare regime.

What is Retinol?

Retinol (also known as Vitamin A) has several important functions in the body. It helps our immune system fight against illness and enables us to see better in low light. For our skin, it is an effective acne treatment and has anti ageing functions. Normally, we get Retinol from our diets. It is found in dairy products, eggs, oily fish, liver and red, yellow as well as leafy vegetables.

For skin care, Retinol is available in the form of creams and serums. Retinoids are all derivatives from Retinol (the purest form of Vitamin A) and have different activity profiles. Retinol is the most popular retinoid in over the counter anti ageing products. Retin-A is a more active form but is only available with a prescription.

How does it work in anti ageing treatments?

Retinol was shown in several studies to reduce fine lines, smooth texture and treat pigmentation. It does so by stimulating cell growth and increasing collagen production. In clinical trials, applying Retinol to ageing skin resulted in firmer and smoother younger looking skin.

Who should be using retinol skin care treatments?

We think the best time to start using Retinoids is in your late 20s or early 30s. By then, cell turn over begins to slow down and signs of photo-damage are evident. It is best to start with a low concentration and gradually build up strength. If used correctly and sparingly, retinoids can help improve skin texture. Starting too quickly with a high strength product can irritate and thin skin. Also, people with rosacea and eczema should seek advice from a dermatologist before considering this treatment.

How to add Retinol to your skincare regime.

It is best to use Retinoids as part of a comprehensive skin care routine that combines a moisturiser, sun protection and exfoliation. This will help rehydrate skin and remove the old skin potentiating the effects of retinol. Whilst prescription products like Retin-A work more quickly, they are less well tolerated and may cause irritation. We recommend using over the counter treatments which work more slowly but are much more gentle. We absolutely adore the Medik8 range of products for their ease of use and the results they provide. The Medik8 Retinol 3TR is a great serum to start with at 0.3% retinol. It has a lightweight formula a step-up product range with a 0.6% and 1% formulation that can be worked up to.

For those in their 30s onwards, look for a formula that contains a Retinoids as well as Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid in a Vitamin E enriched moisturiser. The Medik8 r-Retinoate youth activating cream is a pricey but fabulous time-saving all-rounder which incorporates all of the elements of a good skin care regime.

Practical tips

As you’ve probably gleaned, there are some very important guiding principles to starting Retinoids. Firstly, begin with a low strength and gradually build up. Results might not be visible for up to 8 weeks so you will need some patience! It also makes the skin very photosensitive so use at night. When you first start on Retinoids, you might want to use every other night until your skin tolerates it.

So here, we have it your complete guide to Retinol and skin care. Remember, there is no magic bullet for fabulous skin. Using effective products regularly can over time give you younger and healthier skin. Just follow the basics of selecting a good fuss-free skincare routine. Also ensure that you eat well, stay hydrated, exercise and protect your skin from the sun. Good skin care also compliments anti-ageing treatments like Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels, advanced clinical facials or collagen induction therapy.

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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