Do you ever wish you could go back in time, when your skin was flawless and glowy, without a wrinkle in sight?
Retinoids are the fairy godmothers that can grant you that wish.
Sort of (there’s always a catch with fairy godmothers, ins’t there?).
If you’re 50, retinoids won’t take your skin all the way back to your 20s BUT, they WILL reduce those pesky wrinkles, fade away those annoying dark spots and give your complexion a beautiful glow.
Bonus points : if you’ve got acne, retinoids send it packing.
Not convinced? Here are all the science-backed reasons you should use retinoids into your skincare routine:
What Are Retinoids?
Retinoids are forms of Vitamin A.The most powerful (and most irritating) are available by prescription only:
- Retinoic Acid
The gentlest forms (don’t be fooled, they still pack a punch) are available OTC:
- Hydrapinacolone Retinoate
- Retinyl Palmitate
Here are what these little fairy godmothers can do for your skin:
1. Retinoids Prevent AND Reduce Wrinkles
You’re trying to get rid of your acne and your wrinkles disappear, too! What a miracle!
That’s exactly what happened in the 1970s. Doctors prescribed retinoids to acne patients and, during the treatment, they discovered these little molecules can do a lot more than that!
Retinoids are the only thing (so far!) that has been scientifically proven to reduce wrinkles. How?
They stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen, the substances that keep skin firm. When you’re young, your body produces them in spades, but as you get older, it becomes lazy. Production can’t keep up with demand anymore.
Add to that sun exposure, pollution and all the many other things that destroy collagen and you’ve got the perfect recipe for wrinkles. Retinoids make sure collagen levels remain high, so those pesky wrinkles never have a chance to form in the first place.
P.S. Retinoids don’t work overnight. With retinol, for example, you should expect to see the first results after two months. Prescription retinoids work faster.
2. Retinoids Treat Acne
I’ve already given this away in point 1, but here it is again: retinoids make your acne fade away.
Retin-A is the #1 treatment prescribed by derms to treat acne vulgaris (but the other ones do a good job at kicking acne in the butt, too).
Scientists aren’t 100% sure how it works exactly just yet but, it seems it has something to do with its ability to unclog pores.
P.S. Unclogged pores look smaller, too.
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3. Retinoids Fade Dark Spots Away
Popped pimples. Melasma. Sun exposure. Hormones.
No matter what causes dark spots to turn up on your skin, retinoids send them packing again. How?
Retinoids speed up cellular turnover, a fancy way of saying they help skin exfoliate faster than it would on its own. As old, dark skin cells on the top of your skin give way to newer, more-even toned cells that were lurking underneath, your dark spots slowly fade away.
P.S. Speeding up cellular turnover also makes your skin smoother and brighter. Win win.
How To Use Retinoids
Retinoids are awesome. In moderation.
Here’s the deal: retinoids are the most powerful weapon in your beauty arsenal. Like all powerful weapons, they have to be handled with care.
Use them right, they’ll give you your best skin ever. Use them wrong, they’ll destroy your skin..
How do you use them right? Here are my top tips:
- Start small: I get it, you want all the benefits immediately. But, retinoids can be irritating. If you have never used retinoids before, have sensitive skin, or use too much too often, they’ll make your skin all red and flaky. They can sting too. Save yourself the pain. Start with a small dose a couple of time a week and build your way up from there (check out my detailed post on how to do this with retinol here).
- Use them at night: retinoids can make skin more susceptible to sun damage – the very thing they treat! (Ironic, isn’t it?). Better use them at night when the sun ain’t around.
- Avoid them during pregnancy: studies have shown that retinoids can cause birth defects in mice. Studies on humans haven’t been done (for obvious reasons!!) so there’s no proof this is true for us too. But, why take the risk? If you’ve pregnant or nursing, give retinoids a pass.
What Are The Best Products With Retinoids?
If you want speedy results, go to a derm and ask them for a prescription retinoid. But to get started, OTC retinoids will do just as well. They’ll get your skin used to retinoids without (much) irritation (the adjustment period with prescription retinoids can be harsh!). Here are my fave picks:
- Paula’s Choice Resist 1% Clinical Retinol Booster ($52.00): Dermstore, Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00/£62.50): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Sephora and Ulta
- The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (£8.00): Asos, Cult Beauty and Sephora.
The Bottom Line
Retinoids are the fairy godmothers that keep your skin looking its best: they reduce wrinkles, bust acne and fade dark spots. But, don’t go overboard. Too much of a good thing is never good!
Do you use Retinoids in your skincare routine? Share your experience in the comments below.