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Understanding Skin Care Ingredients: Retinol

skin medica retinol creamFor the past two weeks I’ve been reacquainting my skin with a dear friend named Retinol, one of my favorite skin care ingredients. Even though I’m currently in the peeling stage, I’m loving the results. My pores are clearer. My acne is healing. And my skin’s normally rough and bumpy texture is beginning to feel smoother.

Sounds like a miracle skin care treatment, doesn’t it? It’s definitely on my top ten list. So, let’s learn a little bit more about what this popular skin care ingredient is all about.

Retinol is a pure and stable form of vitamin A. It’s a skin exfoliant, which means it helps your skin to shed old, damaged cells. It also helps to boost collagen production, which means your skin will look fuller and smoother. With continued use, it reduces the appearance of hyperpgimentation and wrinkles (yes, crease between my eyebrows, I’m looking at you).

You’ve probably heard of vitamin A in skincare before, like in that familiar acne treatment from your teenage years, Retin-A (also known as tretinoin or retinoic acid). But retinol is a little different. It’s basically a milder vitamin A facial treatment that slowly absorbs into the skin and is eventually converted into retinoic acid.

Some anti aging creams with retinol aren’t very effective because the retinol oxidizes or degrades before it can even make into the skin. But lines like SkinMedica, which I’m currently using, has a highly concentrated retinol complex with three vitamin-A derivatives that are more effective at penetrating the skin to give you better results.

Basically, the reason for choosing retinol over a prescription tretinoin formula has everything to do with the sensitivity of your skin. If you are a chronic peeler, then you may want to start with retinol. Start slowly, every other day or even every two days to see how your skin reacts before making this a part of your daily skin care regimen. And don’t forget the sunscreen. Vitamin A makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.



  1. Kay
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    In regards to Retinol product, I use the Avene Retinol 0.1% with no problems and have used Skinceuticals CE in the am. I was wondering if the copper in the Neova Day Therapy with SPF conflict with the Retinol or CE. Thank you!

  2. rose
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    so i have like really bad acne, especially on my cheeks, i was wonderinq if this really works.? because i just don’t want to buy another product that does not work.

  3. Kay
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Diacneal Skincare Lotion by Avene is a nice product for acne and also has Retinol.

  4. Jacqueline Cheney
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Kay, no, the copper peptides in the Neova will not conflict with those two products. However, if you’re already using the CE, you wouldn’t need to double up on antioxidant protection and collagen synthesis from the copper in the Neova Day Lotion. A more basic moisturizer with sunscreen, like SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30, would be all that you need. If you’re eager to try Neova (and it is a wonderful product), then take a break from the CE for a while and just use the Neova as your morning treatment and sunscreen in one.

  5. Jacqueline Cheney
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Rose, yes, retinol is very effective at treating acne by encouraging the shedding of the dead skin that is clogging pores. The Avene product Kay mentions above is a good one to use, especially for sensitive skin. However, be careful not to use too many acne treatments at once. If you’re going to try retinol, stick with that for a while, and don’t use AHAs or benzoyl peroxide, they will only cause more irritation.

  6. Kay
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Jacqueline. I appreciate your help and DermStore is great.

  7. Melissa
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I have been Affirm 2X for around 3 weeks now on my face and have noticed that the texture is smoother and my skin appears brighter. I do not see a difference in the fine lines on my cheeks or forehead or my pore size. I am thinking of ordering the next level up and hoping for better results.

    I am also wondering if it is safe for me to use the 2X around my eyes? Those are little lines are really driving me crazy because my makeup collects in them!

  8. Barbra
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    What kind of night cream should I put over SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0? It seems like I should use something that doesn’t have additives that would interfere with the retinol, but I need moisture for sure.

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