If you’ve taken an interest in anti-ageing skincare, you’ve probably come across an ingredient called retinol or retinoids. You may also have heard about certain negative reactions people have had with the ingredient, as well as certain limitations when using it. To iron it all out, we spoke to David Whyte, Asia Pacific global educator at Murad, to get a better idea on what retinol is all about, as well as things you should know when using it in your skincare routine.
What is retinol?
It’s a retinoid and an alcohol derivative of Vitamin A, which Dr. Murad describes as a pure form of the vitamin. It’s the most active form of Vitamin A and converts to something called retinoic acid in the skin. It’s used in skincare to minimise the appearance of lines and wrinkles, promote epidermal cell growth, and speed up cell turnover.
What are some limitations of using retinol?
Although it’s been used in skincare for many years, it does have some limitations such as photo sensitivity and degrading in sunlight. So you should ideally keep your retinol skincare to night time use, stick to a more gentle formulation, and always use sunscreen during the day to ensure any new skin cells are protected from sun damage.
Who can use retinol?
Anyone who wants to prevent or correct the signs of ageing. Mr. Whyte calls it the gold standard for anti-ageing, because it’s suitable for all skin types and can help if you’re experiencing early or advanced signs of ageing.
How would you use retinol-based skincare?
It’s typically designed to be used all over the face, but you can spot apply on the more expressive areas of your face like the forehead, around the eyes and the nasolabial lines (or smile lines) that are the most prone to wrinkles and fine lines.
What are the different types of retinol?
Retinol is a retinoid, and other retinoids include retinal and retinoic acid. There is also retinyl palmitate, which is an encapsulated form of the vitamin that converts to retinol after it’s absorbed. It’s gentle on the skin and also helps to increase the skin’s epidermal thickness.
If you notice any irritation or dryness in your skin when using retinol, you should speak to a dermatologist and stop using the product. It’s likely a result of the retinol being too strong for your skin to handle, or you using another skincare product that's causing the irritation.
A fast-acting retinol skincare product that doesn’t cause irritation or dryness can be found in Murad’s new Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, which contains something called Retinol Tri-Active Technology. While most products contain a single form of retinol that can take weeks to produce results, this serum has three different variations of it.
This technology comprises a fast-acting retinoid that accelerates results and boosts cellular turnover, a time-released encapsulated retinol that melts into the skin over time to deliver consistent and sustained levels of retinol, plus a retinol booster than acts like a magnet in your skin to enhance the benefits of retinol.
It also contains hyaluronic acid spheres for hydration, and a Swertia flower extract which is said to have the ability to help with the regeneration of skin cells after traumatic injury like burns; used in this serum, it promises to reduce irritation and gently soothe the skin.
I’ve been using the serum for the last week and the results have been visible from as early as day three. I only use it at night, and always use a sunscreen with a high SPF the next morning. I have noticed that the lines on my forehead aren’t as pronounced and my skin looks more radiant when I wake up.
The formula is extremely gentle, with no noticeable irritations even on my slightly sensitive skin. I did notice a couple of blemishes coming up to the surface of my skin, but I took it as a sign of my skin congestion clearing up and besides, the pimples were easily taken care of with application of my blemish cream.
The serum is rather pricey at $190 for 30ml, but if you’ve been on the lookout for gentle and effective retinol skincare to try, the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum is worth a shot. It’s available on murad.com.sg, MuradSpace at Robinsons the Heeren, BHG Jurong and Sephora stores.