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Retinol for Skin Health

If you’ve ever researched skincare tips and tricks, you’re probably familiar with the term retinol. So, what is it exactly and why is it so popular for skincare? Retinol is one of the most tested and researched skincare products, and it has many benefits.

Retinol falls under the umbrella of retinoids, which are derivatives of Vitamin A. Retinoids typically require a prescription, while retinol can be purchased over the counter in creams or serums. Retinol is usually advertised as an anti-aging product because it has been proven to increase collagen production and reduce fine lines.

Sounds like magic, right? But wait, there’s more.

Products that contain Retinol have a multitude of benefits that go beyond anti-aging. It can help get rid of acne, corrects hyperpigmentation, and brightens the skin. Retinol also increases the production of hyaluronic acid that keeps the skin moisturized. Let’s look at how retinol works and the benefits it provides for skincare.

What is Retinol?

We already mentioned retinol is a Vitamin A derivative. Retinol hit the market in the 1970’s as a topical acne treatment, but it was quickly realized that this product could do so much more for the skin. We mentioned Retinoids earlier, as well. Retinol and retinoid have the same active ingredient, retinoic acid. The biggest difference is the concentrated amount in each. A retinoid prescription is going to work faster than over the counter retinol, but it’s not for everyone. Retinoids do not need to be activated, whereas retinol doesn’t work until it's fully absorbed into the skin.

If you’re getting nervous about wrinkles and want to incorporate retinol into your routine, make sure to do it gradually. Both retinoid products can cause dryness and skin irritation. It’s suggested to use it gradually every other day at night and wear a good sunscreen during the day. Give it some time, and you will see results.

Before running off to the dermatologist for a retinoid prescription (such as Retin-A) there are an incredible number of benefits in retinol that you can get over the counter and plenty of products to choose from. Another thing to remember is that the benefits of retinol won’t appear overnight. Studies have shown that to see the true benefits of retinol, it needs to be applied properly for at least 6 months before you will see results.

Anti-Aging Benefits

Retinol is a staple in any anti-aging skincare routine. It’s suggested that retinol should be added to your routine by your late twenties to start preventative care. Even if fine lines are starting to form, retinol has been proven to reduce fine lines and re-establish elasticity in the skin.

Retinol also increases blood flow to the skin, which promotes collagen production. Collagen helps thicken the layers of the skin, which reduces the number of fine lines you can see on the face. It’s important to remember that retinol takes time and patience to work. You can start seeing results within 3 months, but typically noticeable results start around the 6-month mark. If you are happy with the results, keep using it! Consistency is key.

Acne Treatment

Topical retinol products first appeared in 1971 as a treatment for acne. It has been continuously proven to work better than most products 50 years later. Acne occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog your pores. It was once thought to be a teenager only issue, but acne problems can continue into adulthood. That’s where retinol comes in!

According to the National Library of Medicine, studies show that topical retinol or retinoids can be used to sufficiently treat acne. Retinol can also help reduce the appearance of acne scars once treated. All around, retinol is an incredible product for the treatment of acne and the scarring it may cause.

Brightens Dull Skin/Fixes Discoloration

Anti-aging and acne treatment are the widely known reasons to use retinol, but there are other benefits as well. One of those is that retinol brightens dull skin. Skin can be dulled due to sun damage, stress, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and pregnancy. It can be easy to accept that your skin will look like that forever, but retinol can help.

The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology published a study on a product used by people with hyperpigmentation. Within 4 weeks, participants noticed a difference in their skin. It’s important to use other products like sunscreen and a good moisturizer while using retinol to continue seeing improvement, but retinol has been proven effective in fixing skin discoloration.

How to Use Retinol

Now that you know about the benefits of retinol for skincare, it’s time to learn how to use it for optimal results. Retinol should be applied at night since it will make your skin more sensitive to light during the day.

  • First thing’s first: wash your face. You want to start with a clean base to make sure nothing will block the product from penetrating your skin to activate the retinol.

  • Wait until your skin is completely dry before applying.

  • Always apply retinol before moisturizers and serums.

  • Start small! Use a tiny amount first (pea-size) and add more as needed.

  • Apply other products (nothing else active) and say goodnight.

*Retinol creams and serums should be applied only at nighttime, then a moisturizer and sunscreen SPF should be applied during the day. If you start to have skin irritation, try using retinol every other day and gradually build up the amount you are using to alleviate the side effects.


To sum it up, retinol is an incredible product with plenty of research to back up the benefits. Originally put on the market as an acne treatment, retinol has been proven as an anti-aging product that brightens the skin as well as increases natural production of hyaluronic acid and collagen.

Over the counter retinol products work slower than a prescription but being patient and applying them properly will reward you with the same benefits as a retinoid. Remember, they are the same thing in different concentrations. There are plenty of retinol products out on the market and there’s something within everyone’s budget. Try it out today!

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