What is Retinol?

Whether you’re browsing online or walking around Sephora, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of skin care products out there. You have so many brands to choose from. The list of ingredients can make you feel like you need a degree to figure out what each one does. One common ingredient is Retinol. We’re told how good it is for our skin and how important it is. It’s used as a selling point in creams and serums but what is Retinol?


Retinol is one of the chemical compounds found in vitamin A along with other fat-soluble retinoids. It encourages skin cells on the surface to turn over faster. This reveals new skin and cell growth underneath. It also helps to thicken skin at deeper layers. This is where wrinkles can begin to form. Retinol also boosts your collagen production which plumps out skin. This will fill in those pesky fine lines. It can curb the production of darker pigmentation known as melanin, reducing brown spots and even fading them over time.

Who Should Use It?

The short answer here is everyone. As the saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true with skin care! However, those in their 30’s and older are the ones who will really see the difference with the use of retinol. Keep in mind with most skin care regimens it can take weeks and sometimes a few months to see the full effects.  If you’re concerned about fine lines, uneven skin tone, or even pore size then you should start incorporating it into your routine. Despite its reputation for being harsh, it’s suitable for all skin types. You just have to figure out the proper amount and usage that’s appropriate but more on that below.

How to Use it?

Introducing a product with retinol into your routine should be done gradually especially for those with sensitive skin.  Retinol products should also only be used at night as exposure to sunlight can significantly reduce its effectiveness. Whether you’re using a cream or a serum you should always apply moisturizer at the end of your routine. Your skin will need it. Without it, you might run the risk of developing dry patches or possible irritation. This is also a good time to remind you to make sure you’re not using any other products that contain vitamin A. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing here. As you adjust to the levels of retinol you can increase the potency levels or the number of times you use it in a week. If you’re not already using sunscreen, now is a good time to start! Using Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so it’s even more important to protect it.

I hope you enjoyed your crash course on retinol. Do you currently use it? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

xo, Olivia


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1 Comment

  1. I love retinol — I use the pure retinol from Skinceuticals about once a week. (Have to remember to apply sunblock after usage.) I want to try the ones you’re using in this post!

    Posted 11.7.18 · Reply

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