Much ado has been made – in the form of boundless research and clinical studies – about retinol. Unfortunately, retinol can be one of the most confusing ingredients to add into your skin care routine. So, to set you on the path to skincare success, let’s get to the nitty-gritty about retinol and retinol based skin care, and consider how Jeunesse Global uses this ingredient in some of their products.
What is retinol?
Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is a fat-soluble vitamin that can offer a host of benefits to the skin and is considered a gold standard in the fight against the visible signs of aging, retinol has been shown to support production of ceramides, collagen and elastin and inhibit the increased production of melanin, also known as hyperpigmentation.
The production of ceramides, collagen and elastin slows considerably as we age, which is why fine lines and wrinkles appear. Ceramides help maintain our moisture barrier and keep our skin hydrated, while collagen and elastin give youthful skin that bouncy, plump effect. So, to keep our skin looking its youngest, we need to keep up that production. Vitamin A does that.
Additionally, retinol has been shown to help reduce the signs of hyperpigmentation and scarring. Melanin is the pigmentation compound that causes skin to darken or discolor when its production is increased, and the reason you may notice darkened “age spots” on your skin. Studies have shown that retinol can assist in blocking melanin production.
When used properly, retinol can contribute to results that have been touted through years of clinical trials and studies. But dosage and percentage can be a bit tricky, especially in over-the-counter skin care products.
Dealing with derivatives
Retinoic acid is the active ingredient in vitamin A that our bodies can use to reap those fantastic benefits mentioned above. But you won’t see straight retinoic acid in any ingredient list. Why? Because sometimes retinol can do as much harm as it does good.
Now, don’t run for the hills. Today’s retinol-based products have managed to do away with harmful side effects. They’ve done so by creating vitamin A derivatives. Not long ago, using retinol meant you’d want to block out about a month for your skin to adjust. During that time, you could expect everything from peeling and intense dryness to frequent breakouts.
While some retinol products still can lead to those results if used improperly or too soon – especially if you’re trying prescription-strength options – the retinol products found in everyday skin care brands are becoming a viable alternative. But what are these alternatives, and how do they work?
This is the gentlest form of retinol, and the most common retinol derivative found in skin care. For most skin types, retinol esters such as retinol palmitate are a great starting point. This is mostly due to conversion: Our skin only accepts retinoic acid, so all other retinol derivatives need to be converted in order to be used. Depending on the ingredient, a conversion will need to happen once, twice, or three times. Retinol palmitate needs to be converted three times to be usable. Each time an ingredient is converted, the percentage of the active ingredient is decreased.
While this means the product isn’t as strong as a prescription-strength product, what’s important here is that it’s gentle. Products like the Luminesce Youth Restoring Cleanser and Luminesce Ultimate Lifting Masque from Jeunesse Global can be incorporated into your regimen right away, and should not cause irritation. Take the slow and steady approach, reap the benefits of this ingredient and save your skin from dryness all at the same time.
Retinol is the next step up on the conversion scale. Retinol products need to be converted two times before use on the skin. This means it can be a bit more potent, but also a bit more irritating if used improperly. If formulated correctly and used properly, you should be able to incorporate these products a few times a week with little to no irritation.
If you’d like to try retinols, ensure it’s a pleasant experience with this rule of thumb: Treat your skin with care. Start off small. This can mean either using a retinol ester for a short while before moving on to retinol, or using a retinol product, but only a few times a week. Pay attention to the percentage – while 0.5% may not seem like much, it can pack a punch.
This is an emerging class of high-tech retinols. Interestingly, they don’t need to be converted at all to work with the skin. The percentage you see on the bottle is the percentage you’ll apply to your skin. Plus, non-converting retinols are surprisingly gentle, so just about anyone can use them regularly without experiencing much irritation. These newcomers, though, will require more independent research.
Now you can make informed choices on the type of retinol that is best for you and your skin type, as well as on whether retinol is a solid fit for your skin care routine. Regardless of the product you end up choosing, we highly recommend starting small. This will give your skin time to adjust, and you should avoid the irritation that can occur with frequent retinol use.
What are your experiences with this ingredient? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!