Retinol, also known as vitamin A, is a cosmetic ingredient often found in anti-aging products like facial creams, serums, and eye creams—because it can be aging skin’s best friend. It can minimize the appearance of wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, shrink the look of enlarged pores, and reignite a feeling of firmness and radiance.
Take a look back at the last century of skincare. From Coco Chanel sparking a 1920s tanning oil fad, to cleansing with a cold cream in the 1950s, to the Korean sheet masks and snail creams of the 2010s, find out how skincare has evolved over the last 100 years. Special Thanks to: Cynthia B. Yalowitz, MD, FAAD General & Cosmetic Dermatology Larchmont, NY
This cream contains 0.3% retinol which makes it ideal for first time vitamin A users. La Roche-Posay’s minimalist formulas are also great for sensitive skins as they contain no preservatives, fragrance, colourants, or parabens.
All forms of Vitamin A break down and become unstable in the presence of exposed light and air, so it’s crucial to purchase retinol that is packaged in opaque containers or tubes, which is why they often come in metal tubes in prescription form.
Though you can ask your doc for a prescription-strength retinoid—which is a much stronger version of what you can buy over the counter—the derms we spoke to said drugstore and beauty counter brands do the same thing, and that it just may take longer to see results. Read on for the retinol recommendations from Dr. Tanzi and other top skin doctors.
Rheinwald JG, Hahn WC, Ramsey MR, et al. A two-stage p16 (INK4A) and p53–dependent keratinocyte senescence mechanism that limits replicative potential independent telomere status. Mol Cell Bio. 2002;22:5157–72. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
It does include the ultra-moisturizing sodium hyaluronate, and two fatty alcohols, stearyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol, also known for their moisturizing qualities. Another skin care standout, PTFE. Better known as Teflon, this ingredient works similarly as it does on pans — it creates a smooth surface. Exactly what you want in a wrinkle cream. It’s also known for filling in fine lines as well. (There is a toxicity concern with PTFE, but that occurs at 662 degrees Fahrenheit. Not a likely environment for your face.)
RoC® Skincare’s special packaging has been designed to preserve and maintain the integrity and strength of the retinol by preventing exposure to the air and sunlight until the moment you apply it. It’s just another way we’re committed to giving you the best results now and in the future.
I first started using this at the beginning of summer, for 1 month. Then I would have given it a five. After using this at night, I would awaken to well-rested eyes. The skin around my eyes appeared hydrated, brighter, and smoother. I stopped using all retinol products in the summer because I was spending so much time outside, and I mainly wanted to focus on sun protection.
The observed fact that topical isotretinoin (13-cis retinoic acid) results in a dose-dependent effacement of wrinkles with concomitant increase in the formation of normal connective tissues in UVB-irradiated hairless mice caught the interest of dermatologists in isotretinoin. Cunningham evaluated the potential of topical 0.1% isotretinoin cream in a randomized study of 6 months. Isotretinoin-treated patients showed statistically significant improvement in the various symptoms of photoaging like fine wrinkles and pigmentation as compared with placebo-treated subjects (Cunningham 1990). Later, in 2 separate studies, the potential of isotretinoin in treating patients suffering from mild to moderate photodamage was evaluated by Sendagorta and colleagues (1992) (n = 776) and Armstrong and colleagues (1992) (n = 326) in double-blind, vehicle-controlled clinical trials. In both studies, isotretinoin cream 0.05% was applied for 12 weeks, followed by application of higher strength isotretinoin (0.1% cream) during the next 24 weeks. Interestingly, both studies resulted in a statistically significant improvement in overall appearance, fine wrinkling, discrete pigmentation, sallowness, and texture of photoaged skin without causing any significant irritation (Armstrong et al 1992; Sendagorta et al 1992).
Prescription strength anything is far more active than over the counter products. In skin care, too active of an ingredient may sometimes not be to everyone’s advantage. OTC retinol and its derivatives still deliver amazing benefits to the skin (even though it may take longer to achieve them), without the potential side effects that prescription retinoids may cause. Often times a dermatologist might recommend these OTC forms of vitamin A for people with sensitive skin.
“While retinol is the most powerful anti-aging ingredient that we have on the market, it’s not quite as powerful as prescription strength retinoids in treating acne,” explains Zeichner. “That being said retinol is a great option for women with aging and acne-prone skin. I recommend Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum because it contains stabilized retinol and the formulation won’t break you out.”
If you’ve blacklisted retinol because of irritation, give this game-changer a go. It’s an encapsulated form of the stuff, which means it’s only delivered to the cells that need it the most. It’s also suspended in a handful of other ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to turn on your skin’s internal water tap, dead skin-sloughing lactic acid and cell-building, skin-plumping ceramides, which all help cushion the blow. Genius.
These effects can be more dramatic when it comes to prescription retinoids. The peeling, redness and sensitivity usually lasts a few weeks, so make sure you baby your skin while it adjusts. Keep in mind that this won’t last forever, and that the results will make it all worthwhile!
Vitamin A is essential to maintain intact epithelial tissues as a physical barrier to infection; it is also involved in maintaining a number of immune cell types from both the innate and acquired immune systems. These include the lymphocytes (B-cells, T-cells, and natural killer cells), as well as many myelocytes (neutrophils, macrophages, and myeloid dendritic cells).
Retinol is a specific form of vitamin A that is naturally produced in your body. When it’s applied topically, enzymes in your skin convert retinol into retinaldehyde and then into retinoic acid. Because of the two-step conversion that it has to undergo before the skin can use it, retinol is a naturally gentle; this means that while its results are slower, it has fewer side effects. The conversion into retinoic acid can take at least a few weeks, which is why you should use retinol products consistently for a few months before expecting to see results.
MDSolarSciences comes in a bright blue and orange bottle that reminded us of sport sunscreen with a pump. It lacked the “cooling” applicator that Honest Beauty and Origins have, which is important for addressing puffiness right away. The light yellow serum was a bit silkier than aloe vera gel and took a while to fully soak into the skin. But, once it did, our skin felt moisturized. If you’re looking for an eye cream that targets more than one issue, then MDSolarSciences Daily Eye Repair Emulsion ($82) might be the product for you.
For first-timers, over-the-counter (OTC) formulations, like the dermatologist-recommended products listed on the next page, are the mildest and the best way to start. “The most common retinoids on these labels are retinol and retinyl palmitate,” says Chris R. Stahl, the director of research and development at Raffaello Research Laboratories, in Torrance, California, a skin- and hair-care formulation company that produces many of the retinoids used in commercial preparations. (You might also see retinaldehyde, which is used less frequently.) These ingredients convert to retinoic acid in the skin and then work their magic.
Recently, Lowe and colleagues (2004) again compared the efficacy of tazarotene 0.1% cream and tretinoin 0.05% emollient cream in the treatment of photoaging in a double-blind, randomized, multicentre, 24 week study (n = 173). At week 16, the incidence of treatment success (>50% global improvement) at the study endpoint was 78% in the tazarotene group and 67% in the tretinoin emollient group, with statistical significance in favor of tazarotene. All other significant differences in efficacy measures were also in favor of tazarotene – for the overall integrated assessment of photodamage at week 16, fine wrinkling at week 24, mottled hyperpigmentation at weeks 12 and 16, and coarse wrinkling at week 4. There were no significant between-group differences in the incidence of subjects achieving at least a 1-grade improvement in irregular depigmentation, lentigines, appearance of pore size, elastosis, tactile roughness, telangiectasia, and actinic keratoses. The local adverse events observed were generally of mild or moderate severity and were greater (mainly burning) with higher tazarotene concentrations. Thus, the efficacy and tolerability results obtained from this study are in broad agreement with those reported by Kang, Leyden, and colleagues (2001).
FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate features a formula that combines retinol and advanced peptides, two ingredients that work together to soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles, while imparting firmer-looking skin with a smoother texture. The formula is balanced with First Aid Beauty’s proprietary Skin Saver Complex to deliver the benefits of retinol with minimal irritation. This complex is comprised of hyaluronic acid, vitamins C + E, aloe, colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, and ceramides that work together help comfort, nourish, and support skin health. It alleviates the irritation often associated with retinol-based products, leaving your complexion feeling soothed with a refreshed, rejuvenated look.
Hi Laurence! It is definitely possible to be allergic to retinol, or perhaps other chemicals that were in the retinol product you were using. There have been studies that suggest rosehip seed oil is just as age-defying as retinol. If rosehip seed oil works better and does not cause irritation, I would stick with that if I were you! 🙂
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