How can my skin benefit from using Retinol?

by | Mar 22, 2021 | Newsletter | 0 comments

What is retinol?

Retinol one of the retinoid family and is the best anti-aging product after broad spectrum sunscreen.

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and part of the retinoid family with retinaldehyde (retinal), retinyl palmitate and retinal acetate. Prescription retinoid products are used to treat acne. The anti-aging effect of retinoic acid was discovered in 1986 by a dermatologist who was using retinoic acid to treat acne. He found that, at the same time, it reduced the appearance of wrinkles.

Following this discovery retinoids were extensively researched as anti-aging products.

Research has shown retinoids increase firmness, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin tone and texture. They also reduce acne and pore size appearance. Benefits of retinol are usually starting to be seen at 6 to 8 weeks after starting treatment.

How do retinoids work?

Retinoic acid works by regulating expression of cellular DNA. It acts to control epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation, stimulate new blood vessel formation and produce collagen (Mukherjee S, 2006). Retinoids also reduce the expression of enzymes that break down collagen (Varani J, 2000).

All of this leads to a smoother, more even skin tone and a reduction in the appearance of pores, fines lines and wrinkles.

How do I know which retinoid to buy?

Retinoic acid is the only form of retinoid that actually works. However, most products will contain either retinyl palmitate or retinol.

Retinyl palmitate is the least bioavailable form and has to be converted by enzymes in skin cells to form retinoic acid. Retinol is a step closer and much more bioavailable so go for a product with retinol. In addition it is a good idea to avoid products contained in jars as vitamin A is broken down when exposed to air. it is better to buy products which are in opaque containers and are closed eg. an opaque pump action container. In addition look for encapsulated retinol which protects it while it is on the shelf and limits degradation but also allows for slow release on the skin which reduces irritation and allows the body more time to convert it to retinoic acid.

How do I use a retinol?

Always start with lower percentages first (0.25 or 0.5) and use every 2 days or so or mix it with your moisturiser. Slowly increase as your skin adjusts. You may notice dryness, peeling and slight irritation at first but if you start slowly this will be minimal.

Always put retinol on at night, wash it off first thing in the morning and USE a broad-spectrum SPF 40 or greater. Retinoids increase your sensitivity to the sun so this is SO important.

Can I use retinoids if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Absolutely not. You must avoid retinoids if planning to become pregnant, in pregnancy and during breastfeeding. This is because retinoic acid tablets have been associated with damage to unborn babies so to be on the safe side it is best to avoid the topical retinoids too.

How can I find out more or get access to a good retinol serum?

Please contact me on or use the contact form on my website to organise a virtual skin consultation. We can discuss retinoic acid in more detail and see if it is right for you. I stock fantastic Alumier MD retinol products or can help you order these online through my clinic.


  1. Kligman AM et al (1986). Topical tretinoin for photoaged skin. J Am Acad Dermatol;15:836-59
  2. Mukherjee S (2006). Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging;1(4) 327-48.
  3. Varani J (2000). Vitamin A antagonizes decreased cell growth and elevated collagen degrading MMP and stimulates collagen accumulation in naturally aged skin. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology;11(3)480-86