Before the pandemic, my nighttime skincare routine was pretty basic. Cleanse, moisturize, and try to sleep on your back — aka no pillow. That is until Covid worried me a serious case frown. I’m talking about fine lines, wrinkles, fine lines and dullness of the skin. The fact that the pandemic just hit me in my 40s certainly doesn’t help the cause. When time passes your face, it doesn’t take a gentle step. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty much an Irish jigsaw. Today, I’m diving into the most effective anti-aging secret I know, (7 secrets to be exact): the best retinol creams for beginners.
Featured image of Kristen Kilpatrick.
With my forehead giving me a glimpse of my future face and my under-eye bags packed for what seemed like a long time, I decided to step up my personal skin care regimen and go for it. a little bit of precaution, powder room style.
Now, my nighttime routine looks like this:
In two years, I went from barely knowing anything about skin care to considering myself a product and skincare freak, in part because of this podcast. (Trust me, it’s worth it — Lauryn Evarts Bosstick goes bad with all the beauty tips and tricks you never knew you needed.)
But in the end, after all the new steps, I’d say the single most effective addition to my routine is retinol. Incorporating this magic into the mix 2-3 times a week helps smooth out some of my unwelcome lines and wrinkles, while seriously improving my overall color. And just in time for me to get out of the Zoom room and back into the exchange light.
Eager to learn more, I met with two experts in the world of skin care to help novices (as I admit to still do) get the news on what retinol really is, and why. one should make it (almost) daily, and some go-to options for starters. Two experts in question? Director of Cosmetic & Laser Dermatology at UT Dell and Ascension Texas, Tyler Hollmig, MD, and Austin-based esthetician, Rachel Spillman. They give us the retinol scoop below—plus, keep scrolling to learn about the best retinol creams for beginners.
What exactly is retinol?
Dr. Hollmig explains that retinol is a type of retinoid, a group of drugs that are essentially forms, or “derivatives” of vitamin A. There are many types of retinoids that can be helpful for the skin. Retinoids are all related, but they have different powers and different purposes.
He continued, noting that isotretinoin (Accutane), for example, can be extremely helpful in tablet form for severe acne, and that there are other “systemic” retinoids (oral pills) that are helpful for other conditions. skin conditions such as psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions. skin disorders, along with preventing skin cancer.
“Other retinoids that are used topically but require a prescription, such as tretinoin (Retin-A), are commonly used for acne and are also helpful for minimizing skin aging,” notes the MD. Adapalene (Differin) recently switched from a prescription acne and skin aging topical medication to an over-the-counter medication. ”
Retinol is a milder OTC form of these vitamin A derivatives and serves as an active ingredient in many skin care products. It may provide some of the benefits of congenerative retinoids but potentially fewer side effects.
The bottom line: Many skin care companies market the idea that all retinoids are the same (and thus imply that their retinol cream will have the same effect as tretinoin), but this isn’t just like Moira. Rose wears a different wig — where the specific retinoid really matters quite a bit.
What are the benefits of retinol?
“There are many potential benefits of using retinol,” says Dr. Hollmig. “At the same time, I always warn patients to start slow with these and make sure they know exactly what they are taking. Because the regulation is so light on cosmetic products, many skin care products are almost like what I call a cosmetic-industrial complex.”
But back to the benefits — and you can bet there are many. According to Dr. Hollmig, potential benefits include:
- Improves acne – especially “blackhead” acne, which is blackheads and whiteheads.
- Reduce excess secretion from oil (sebum-producing) glands, which can also play a role in causing acne.
- Helps reduce skin aging. Retinoids can reduce skin aging by changing the way skin cells work at the molecular level.
Dr. Hollmig delves deeper into this, noting that retinoids “stimulate collagen production and inhibit the breakdown of existing collagen, and they thicken the skin by increasing cell proliferation. These procedures can help reduce wrinkles and even out skin tone. ”
What are the most important steps in any skin care routine?
“The most important skin care product to start with is sunscreen,” says Dr. Hollmig emphasized. “This helps reduce skin cancer and skin aging by reducing external aging caused by UV rays. As certain wavelengths of light that age the skin pass through window glass and can even be emitted from cell phones and computer screens, an excellent broad spectrum UV blocker is crucial. , even for children. “
The second most important skin care product? Hollmig recommends looking for an active ingredient that targets your specific skin concerns. “For patients who are trying to even out skin tone, using something with vitamin C or another brightening active ingredient, for example, can be helpful.”
When in particular should someone start using a retinol cream?
“Retinol products are most helpful for patients who are experiencing some mild, superficial acne or are trying to reduce the development of wrinkles,” says Dr. Hollmig. He also observes that many of his patients notice dull skin, larger pores, and an early appearance of wrinkles around their late 20s or mid-30s. “This is largely due to a decrease in the skin’s natural collagen levels along with other aging factors.”
Dissolution? “Using topical retinol to start depositing collagen in the bank, can be a really helpful prevention strategy for reducing skin aging.”
At what step should we add retinol to our skincare routine?
Dr. Hollmig warns that retinol isn’t for everyone and watch out for its drying side effects. “Patients with really dry and sensitive skin may not tolerate these. However, most of my patients can tolerate mild retinol, especially when combined with a good moisturizer.”
Believe what you’ve heard about using retinol as a nighttime-only product. “I advise patients to put moisturizer on top. Some areas are more sensitive to skin irritation, such as the corners of the nose, so some of my patients will apply vaseline or Aquaphor as a topical treatment to protect these areas before applying retinol in areas elsewhere on the face,” noted Dr. Hollmig. .
When it comes to retinol, what do’s and don’ts should we learn?
“The main risk with using retinol is irritation and dryness,” warns Dr. Hollmig. “If this is a new active ingredient for a patient, I would start slowly — use it every 2 or 3 nights for a few months before gradually increasing it to daily use.”
Hollmig explains, likening an effective retinol routine to running a marathon. “You have to build endurance over time. Also, I recommend introducing only one activity at a time. If retinol is combined with other ingredients that can irritate the skin, such as hydroxy acids, the combined effect can cause irritation and peeling of the skin.”
Good news? “We are living in a golden age of skin care. “There are so many incredible products out there, and there is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach. Hollmig recommends adopting a personalized skin care regimen, and patients shouldn’t hesitate to contact their dermatologist for help.
What is your favorite retinol cream for beginners?
While retinol is widely known, retinal is still gaining traction in the skin care world. Spillman shares his thoughts on why: “Retinal is hard to keep stable in the product packaging and is probably more expensive for companies to buy. I call retinal ‘retinol’s gentle cousin.’ It has the same benefits as retinol but with little to no irritation,” notes the esthetician.
As for usage, Spillman says, “Most beginners can start using retinal products every day instead of using a retinoid product 1-3 times per week. Retinal, also known as retinaldehyde, is still vitamin A but doesn’t cause severe irritation and flaking like anything under the retinoid guise of products like severe irritation and flaking like anything under the Retinoid mantle of products like Tretinoin, Adapalene, Tazarotene and retinol. ”
Personally, Spillman carries most of the above list in her store and has tested them all on her rosacea-affected skin. “Personally, I only use retinol 2x a week and retinal 4x per week, but I don’t use both at the same time. It’s important to add that when someone starts with either of these, they shouldn’t be using any other exfoliants in their routine. They should also stop using these products completely 2-4 days before and after their facial appointment.”