If I could go back to my early ’20s, I’d tell myself to stop wasting so much money on women’s magazines that make me feel flawed, trust my intuition more, and start using retinoids straight away, when wrinkles are still nowhere in sight.
But making the most of them ain’t easy. There’s so much misinformation around. Are all retinoids created equal? Do they really thin skin? Should we really avoid them doing the day? So many questions!
Fret not. I’ve done the research, and debunked the craziest, most common retinoid myths, so you can make smarter choices:
1. Retinoic Acid, Retinol, Retinaldehyde, And Other R Ingredients Are Basically The Same Thing
Yes and no. All these R ingredients are forms of vitamin A, but they’re not the same thing. They all have similar benefits too, but some work much better than others.
Retinoic acid is, by far, the best. It’s the wrinkle buster that helps keep premature ageing at bay. But it’s only found in prescription products, like Retin A.
Other retinoids must first be converted into retinoic acid to work their little magic. Retinol is the most effective. Once converted into retinoic acid, it does the same thing, only more slowly. So, it takes longer to see results.
My favourite retinol serum is Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum. It’s packed with retinol and a bunch of antioxidants that help skin look and feel its best. I also love Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate Deep Wrinkles. It releases retinol over a period of several hours, rather than all at once, so you get all the benefits without the irritation.
Retinaldehyde, retinyl palmitate, and other retinoids are all gentler than retinol, and less likely to irritate sensitive skin. But they are also weaker and less effective. Unless your skin is super sensitive, the trade off isn’t worth it.
If you’d still like to try them, you can find them in Avene Retrinal Cream 0.1 and Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Age Erase Moisture With Mega 10 Plus.
2. You Can’t Use Retinoids During The Day
It’s true sunlight degrades retinoids, making them less effective overtime. That’s why they’re usually packaged in opaque tubes and bottles (leave those jars on the shelves!), and still best used at night.
But you can use them during the day too, if you prefer. Just apply sunscreen afterwards. Studies have shown that, when used with SPF-rated products, retinoids are still both effective and safe. So, you really have no excuse not to use your retinol.
3. Retinoids Exfoliate Skin
You know that peeling and redness you sometimes get after using retinoids? That’s not a sign of exfoliation. It’s a sign of irritation. A little is normal at first, but if you’re still getting it after a couple of weeks, it means you’re using too much or too often.
If decreasing concentration and/or frequency doesn’t work either, you may want to stop using retinoids altogether. They’re just not suitable for your sensitive skin type.
4. Retinoids Thin The Skin
Not at all! In fact, the opposite is true. Retinoids boost collagen production, which leads to thicker and firmer skin overtime!
5. You Shouldn’t Apply Retinoids Around Your Eyes
Not only you should, you must! The eye area is the most damaged. It’s there that those first annoying wrinkles show up. Retinoids can help us keep them at bay.
But aren’t retinoids too harsh for this delicate area? Well, if your skin is super sensitive and gets irritated by pretty much anything, you may want to stay away from retinoids. Everyone else can safely use them.
I do. But I don’t use a special eye cream. I just slather Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum all over my face, eye area included. Just be careful not to get retinoids inside your eyes. They’ll sting! Ouch!
6. Retinoids Work Immediately
I wish! Retinoids may be anti-ageing superstars, but they take their sweet time to work. It may take weeks, if not months, depending on which form you use, to see an improvement. So, don’t get discouraged. Stick with them, and you’ll eventually reap their benefits.
7. You Can’t Apply Retinoids To Wet Skin
The instructions on the box often say to wait until your skin is completely dry before applying retinoids. I usually do. But if you can’t be bothered to wait, you can safely apply them to wet skin too. That won’t make them less effective.
Do you know of any other retinoid myths that needs to be debunked?