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Retinol Cheat Sheet: Skin Benefits and How to Maximize Effects

Claudia Christin Sep 12 2021

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Are you noticing dullness on the skin and fine lines? Have you also been experiencing a loss in skin elasticity, or suffer from adult acne? One ingredient has been proven by science to be able to address all these problems — Retinoids, or the Vitamin A group. This group of ingredients has been hailed as the “royal family” of skincare because they are the scientific “gold standard” of topical treatment for aging skin and also acne!

 

Before we go deep into the world of retinoids…

You probably have seen it on our Instagram that By Wishtrend is going to launch a retinoid-based (Retinal) product real soon,  how about if we take a look back into their main benefit of retinoid and how you can get the best out of it!

 

The history of vitamin A

Retinoids were initially found and used as a topical and oral medication for a multitude of skin conditions, primarily for acne. After years of close observation, doctors and scientists found out that retinoids contain an extra benefit of repairing and rejuvenating sun-damaged skin. It helps improve overall skin texture and reverse signs of aging.

 

How Do They Work?

Our skin cells have a receptor for retinoic acid. Retinoic acid functions like a wake-up call for our skin cells to do their job right. Retinoids help to increase our skin cell turnover rate and to basically renew our skin cells. This helps to increase the production of collagen (which is the building block of our skin), and also fades hyperpigmentation. 

 

Who Can Benefit?

Anyone who is concerned with acne, signs of aging, and wishes to prevent early signs of aging can benefit from the use of retinoids. Perhaps you’re wondering — when is the right time to start? There is no black and white answer to this. However, if your main issue is acne, you can start as early in your teenager years (15 – 17 years old).

 

Additionally, the truth is that our skin collagen production significantly reduces by 1% each year as we reach the age of 25. This fact is good reason to start on your retinoids journey as you reach your mid to late-20s. Being diligent with the usage of this ingredient will help prevent your skin from forming (more) fine lines before it’s too late!

 

“Retinoids, retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, Retin-A — What are these ingredients? Are they the same?”

 

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‘Retinoids’ is an umbrella term for both prescription-based active retinoic acid as well as the over the counter (OTC) derivatives. Imagine retinoids as a company, and the derivatives such as retinoid acid, retinol, retinaldehydes as the person behind the company from the boss, manager, employee and more.

 

The only active form of retinoids that our skin cells recognize and respond to is retinoic acid. Imagine it as the strongest member and the director (or boss) of the company. However, retinoic acid is only available through doctor’s prescription (for example: RetinA cream). 

 

The other derivatives such as retinol, retinaldehyde and granactive retinoids are the sidekicks to retinoic acid. While they may not be as powerful, they still have their own roles to play keep the group rolling. These “sidekicks” are the ones that are readily available in OTC skincare products, and are less “powerful” because they need to overcome “obstacles” before being able to perform like retinoic acid. Simply put, they require our skin’s enzymes to convert them into the active form (retinoic acid) before they can signal the skin cells. 

 

To name a few of these derivatives and the number of conversions it requires: 

✓ Retinol esters (3 conversions): Retinyl proprionate, Retinyl palmitate, Retinyl aspartamate 

✓ Retinol (2 conversions)

✓ Retinaldehyde (1 conversion): Retinyl-aldehyde, Retinal

✓ Retinoic acid esters (0 conversions): Hydroxypinacolone retinoate or commonly known as granactive retinoid

 

Tips For Newbies!

✓ When: Apply ONLY at night time. Use retinoids 1 – 2 times a week and increase the frequency as your skin adjust to it.

✓ How: Slowly but surely. To make sure that your skin adjusts to the ingredient, use a product with a lower concentration.

✓ Important: Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen every day! 

 

Q. Is It Safe During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding?

Retinoids are not safe to use during pregnancy (although this has only been proven at a certain amount of concentration). It is best to avoid the use of retinoids during pregnancy. While the OTC options are unlikely to cause a problem while breastfeeding, do note that there has been no hard evidence to prove its absolute safety. 

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