If there is a Holy Grail of the Skin Care industry, it would be named Retinol!
Retinol is part of the Retinoid family which is created from Vitamin A. Other compounds in this family include Retinyl Esters, Retinoic Acid (RX Tretinoin generic), Adapalene (OTC [Over-the-Counter] & RX Differin), Tazarotene (Rx Tazorac) Retinyl Palmitate, and Retinaldehyde. It is a multifunctional ingredient that treats acne, discoloration, diminishes malignant cell growth, and aids in anti-aging. It is available in a variety of products.
How Retinol Works and Benefits
When retinoids are applied to the skin, enzymes in the body convert it to retinoic acid, the active form of Vitamin A. Thus, the best Retinoid forms are dependent on how many steps it takes to convert to Retinoic Acid.
Retinoic Acid helps increase skin cell shedding, it stimulates collagen and helps shed off excess pigment. Due to its biologic action, Retinoids can diminish skin damage, boost antiaging, even out fine lines and wrinkles, along with skin tone.
How to Choose A Retinol Product
In OTC products, Retinol is the closest form to the active Retinoic acid. It’s the best form to use as it can be more easily absorbed and be ready to work! Nonetheless, it is common for OTC products to contain Retinol Esters like Retinyl Palmitate or Linoleate, which are less effective and do no penetrate well into the skin. Most forms of Retinol are available in 0.04-0.1 percent.
Although modern science estimates that Retinol can have anti-acne benefits, it is not marketed for such. It is only FDA approved for cosmetic purposes, as minimal studies have been done on this variant for acne. Yet, there is research that generally advises Retinol can induce the same effect as Retinoic as if in the right vehicle and stabilized from sunlight (addition of antioxidants).
Still, it is often not on the radar for acne product seekers but it should be in all OTC acne arsenals!
The recent addition of Differin Gel (Adapalene) from RX status to OTC has helped mitigate this scenario. It is the first true Retinoic Acid to be available without a prescription, that can be marketed for acne.
Of Note: Side Effects
Remember, it is normal for all Retinoids to cause redness, dryness, and peeling. Some people may have to initiate Retinol every other or every third day and work up from there. A moisturizing lotion like Cerave, Cetaphil, or Aveeno can also be used over the Retinol or under if severe dryness.
With patience, you can work through the early irritant stages of Retinol use in order to reap all the rewards at the 2-3 month mark.
This is one amazing product that all should have in their anti-aging and acne regimen.