Retinol: Myths and Truths

A woman's face with three drops of retinol

Retinol is a word you can hear almost everywhere today if you are looking for anti-aging beauty products, but what is it exactly? Some people haul it as a true miracle worker that will make your skin smooth and shining with health while others claim that retinol-based creams and serums are overrated. Today we’ll try to help you understand the truth about retinol and dispel some of the most common myths surrounding this ingredient.

First of all, you need to understand what retinol is. Retinol is the name for the entire molecule of vitamin A. This vitamin is considered to be a “cell-communicating” ingredient, which means that it can “command” your skin. This effect has been researched and proven, so there is no doubt that retinol indeed can improve the condition of your skin, especially if the problems you are facing are sun damage and acne. Considering the fact that the harm from both of these factors combined is the major reason that speeds up the natural process of aging (collagen degradation), it becomes obvious that retinol is indeed capable of creating a potent anti-aging effect.

Myths Busted

Now that you know what retinol is, let’s focus on the myths about this element and products that contain it.

  1. Retinol creams should only be used in the evening as they increase sun sensitivity of the skin. 50/50
    This is a tricky myth to dispel, as half of it is true. Retinol-based creams really should be applied at night. However, the reason for this is not some supposed harm to your skin but the fact that the molecules that make these products effective are sensitive to sunlight and air. Therefore, going out in the sun with this product on your skin will reduce its efficiency greatly. On the other hand, applying it before going to bed will see you reap many benefits.
  2. Retinol is a miracle treatment for wrinkles. 50/50
    Unfortunately, a true miracle of wrinkled skin smoothing out can only happen in fairy tales and there should be a Fountain of Youth or some magic involved. Retinol is chemistry, not magic, so its effects aren’t as prominent. Products that contain it will indeed reduce fine lines and wrinkles over time, but they won’t create a miracle.
  3. All retinol creams are the same. False
    This is definitely false as no two creams produced by different manufacturers are the same. Even if their formulas are similar the quality and type of the ingredients used will make the final products differ. Retinol is a component often used in a variety of beauty products. Some of them are well-formulated, but there are some that can contain potentially harmful ingredients (alcohol, fragrance, toxic chemicals, etc.) along with retinol. If you want to make sure that the product you consider buying is both safe and efficient, you will need to study its contents list very carefully and research every ingredient.
  4. Eventually, you will need to increase the frequency of applying retinol-based products. True
    Not that this doesn’t mean that you should do it twice a day instead of once before going to bed. On the contrary, you should start slowly, especially if this is your first time using a retinol-based cream. Apply it twice a week for at least the first week. Then, you can move on to using it on alternate days for two weeks more. Keep a close eye on the condition of your skin. If everything seems good, you can start applying the cream or other retinol-based product every day.
  5. Retinol products can’t be combined with vitamin C. False
    You can find many sources that claim it’s dangerous to use vitamin C-based products and retinol creams or serums at the same time. They cite acidity issues as the reason for a negative reaction between the products. However, this is not the case. In truth, combining these two types of products can actually enhance their efficiency. Your skin’s pH is naturally acidic, which is the reason that vitamin C remains stable and can protect you from free radicals. In order to act most efficiently, retinol requires an acidic environment, so vitamin C literally makes it work better.

Now that you know some truths about retinol, you can decide whether you should introduce some products that contain this ingredient in your anti-aging beauty routine.

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