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4 Reasons You Should Be Using a Retinol Product

When every precious minute is accounted for, you may not be willing to devote a few to skin care. But before you lay head to pillow at night with nary a thing on your face, slather on a retinol product.

Yes. If you do just one thing for your skin, use a product formulated with retinoids, a group of vitamin A derivatives that most every dermatologist hails. Here’s why.

It Makes Other Products More Effective

We know we just said, “If you do just one thing.” But should you choose to use more than one skin product, retinoids will actually make these products’ ingredients more effective. That’s because retinoic acid helps stem sebum production and reduce dead skin cell buildup, thus unclogging pores and clearing the way for subsequent ingredients to better penetrate the skin. Deeper penetration equals more meaningful results.

It Fights Wrinkles

Here’s where retinoids really do a ton of heavy lifting: Their retinoic acid stimulates new collagen production and hampers its depletion, helping to plump skin and decrease existing fine lines and wrinkles. Retinoids also help thicken skin and increase elasticity, which helps to tighten anything that might have loosened along the way.

It Tackles Sun Damage

That skin damage you accrued over the years? Retinoids will not only help to prevent further UV degradation of your skin matrix, but will also slow — and potentially reverse — current damage. And, thanks to their ability to stimulate faster skin cell turnover, they can fade UV-induced hyperpigmentation — you know, those pesky age spots you’ve been cursing.

It Brightens Dull Skin

In addition to speeding up the turnover of superficial skin cells — and, in turn, uncovering fresh, healthy skin — retinoids encourage the production of new blood vessels in the skin. What this means: improved skin color and a more glowy complexion.

OTC Retinol Is Less Effective but Still Worth It

Before you purchase that over-the-counter retinol cream, be forewarned that, though most retinoids function the same, doctor-prescribed retinoids are much more effective. The reason: Prescription retinoids contain cell-signaling retinoic acid, while retinol or “pro-retinol” (vitamin A in esther form, such as retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate) requires your skin’s cells to convert them into retinoic acid. The more conversions (pro-retinol requires quite a few), the less effective a product is. The less effective the product, the longer it takes to work. One caveat: Products with higher concentrations of retinol or pro-retinol will net higher conversation rates, helping speed results. 

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use an OTC retinol product. In fact, because prescription-strength retinoids can cause skin irritation, dermatologists often suggest easing into retinoids with an OTC product that contains a weaker active ingredient (retinol) with a lower concentration. Once your skin builds up its tolerance to retinol, you can graduate to something a little stronger — should you need it!   

Photo: Light Field Studios

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