Retinol promises smooth, fresh, and radiant skin. Whether as a serum or cream - we show you how to use the active ingredient correctly (for post-shopping).
Retinol, like retinoids like retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate, is a derivative of vitamin A, one of the most important nutrients for our body to increase cell division. "It is added to skincare products to promote skin renewal, lighten the complexion, reduce acne and increase collagen production," explains New York-based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. "It also works as an antioxidant by preventing free radical damage that leads to visible skin aging." Dr. Whitney Bowe and other experts present here how you can integrate this powerful ingredient into your beauty routine in order to have a perfect, fresh complexion not only for a short time but for decades.
The age of 30 has long been considered the threshold year for the introduction of retinol into the care routine. Due to early signs of aging such as sunspots or wrinkles around the eyes, or simply to get a head start and take advantage of the latest technologies, many women start doing this under the supervision of their dermatologist. "Your mid-20s is the perfect time to start using retinol creams," said Dr. Ellen Marmur. "Many patients who have used it for years swear by it."
"The right balance is crucial," warns Dr. Whitney Bowe on caution. "Retinol can be very irritating if used too often or if the formulation is too strong for your skin." She advises starting with a pea-sized amount of a low-percentage over-the-counter formula (0.01% to 0.03%) and using it "initially twice a week and then gradually increasing the amount to allow the skin to acclimate". This is the approach taken by a number of new time-delayed formulas for skin types prone to redness or blemishes. "They are well suited for people with sensitive skin," explains New York dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco. "The active ingredient is released over time, which leads to less irritation." Compared to over-the-counter retinol, prescription retinol has a much stronger effect and a higher percentage of retinol, so you can switch to it after a while, says Dr. Whitney Bowe.
As your skin gets used to the active ingredient, certain side effects, such as mild irritation, dryness, and sensitivity to the sun, are normal, but excessive peeling, reddening, or burning of the skin are not, and people with rosacea or eczema should be very careful or even advised of retinol do not use. "If you can't tolerate retinol, don't worry," says Dr. Ellen Marmur. "It's not the only active ingredient against skin aging! There are many other great ingredients like wild indigo that don't cause any irritation or sensitivity to the sun."
"Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays, and sunlight makes the product less effective," explains Dr. Whitney Bowe, who instructs her patients to use high-dose retinoids only in the evening and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 during the day. With a high-percentage retinol treatment, you should also keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid staying in hot places.
Low-percentage retinol care (over-the-counter) is best combined with sun protection during the day. When it comes to retinol treatment, don't forget your hands, neck, and décolleté - two areas that are prone to visible signs of aging, but which are often neglected.