When it comes to skincare, we need to be careful about the products that we apply to our skin. Sometimes we tend to use the wrong products for our skin type or use them the wrong way.

This may lead to breakouts and blemishes which can worsen our skin condition. One ingredient that is widely used today in many beauty products is retinol.

But What is Retinol?

Most people think that retinoid and retinol are just the same. However, retinol is only one of the many types of retinoids. The other types are retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, and retinol esters. All these types are derived from Vitamin A.

These types differ in their concentration level. Retinoic acid which is more popularly known as Retin-A or Tretinoin has the highest concentration level. This is commonly used in anti-aging products or to treat acne. Retin-A is normally given with a prescription from a doctor.

You don’t need a prescription for products that contain retinol. However, even if the other types of retinoids do not require a prescription, you can’t just apply them to your face.

It is important to know that they can also have side effects when not used properly. However, many experts believe that it is one of the best ingredients when it comes to fighting the signs of aging and addressing other skincare concerns like dullness, acne, improving skin texture, and minimizing pores.

Retinol works by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin of the skin. It also helps in increasing cellular turnover. There are so many benefits that it can do for our skin like treat pigmentation and uneven skin tone, and help treat cystic acne.

Side Effects of Retinol

Just like any skincare product, retinol can have side effects on some people depending on their skin type and condition. It can also have a negative effect when not used properly.

Those who have psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea may need to skip using products with retinol and use something that is not too strong for their skin.

Some of the most common side effects of retinol are dryness, inflammation, scaly patches, redness, and peeling. They usually last after a few weeks but once the skin had adjusted to the ingredients, there will be visible improvements.

Although it has some side effects, it doesn’t mean that they are not safe to use. Sometimes these things happen when people use it the wrong way or overuse it. Doctors advise users to include retinol in their beauty regimen gradually.

How to Apply Retinol

Dermatologists recommend to start using it gradually. Apply a small amount first on the skin and wait for at least 30 minutes before applying other skincare products on the skin. This will let the skin absorb retinol better and minimize side effects when combined with other products.

It is also advisable to use it once or twice a week at first, especially for those who are first-time users of retinol. Then increase usage once skin had adjusted to it. Before applying it to the skin, make sure that it is clean and dry and avoid getting the product into the eyes.

What is the Best Age to Use Retinol?

There’s no particular rule on the right time to use it. However, most dermatologists agree that it is best to start introducing retinoids as part of a skin regimen between the age of 25-30. This is because at this age, the production of elastin and collagen begins to slow down.

As collagen and elastin production slows down, signs of skin aging may start to show up and this can be delayed with the early use of retinol. However, it is not suggested to use it before the age of 25 when the skin’s metabolism is still very active.

Using it while the skin is metabolically active may cause inflammation and overstimulation. Those who are struggling with acne should also delay using products with retinol as it may worsen the skin condition.

However, some people are advised to use a prescription retinoid to deal with acne and blemishes. That’s fine as long as it is guided by a dermatologist.

Another thing to remember is to start with a weaker type of retinoids like retinol or retinyl palmitate. Try using it for 3 months first and then use it again after 3 months.

Lastly, don’t forget to apply sunscreen when you start using retinol. Those who are using retinoids are more prone to photosensitivity as retinoids can temporarily make the skin thinner and more sensitive. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum for better protection from sun damage.

Should I Start Using Retinol As Soon As I Turn 25?

Just because it is advisable to use it at the age of 25, you would go ahead and try it. Skin condition varies from person to person and some people may be advised to use it earlier while some later.

Those who have thin skin should consider using it when they turn 25 as they are more prone to developing wrinkles and fine lines. You’ll know you have thin skin when your skin is dehydrated, breaks easily, and gets sunburnt easily.

People who had a bad case of acne during their teens may also be advised to use retinol early on. This will help improve the skin texture and smoothen indents that were caused by acne.

If you love the outdoors while growing up, you’ve probably spent too much time under the sun. This may have caused you excessive sun damage and this can be corrected when you use retinol by the age of 25.

To sum it up, retinol is safe and effective, however, it may not work the same way for everyone. Like any other skincare product, some may see visible effects as early as a few weeks after use, while it may take some time for others.

As long as you follow the right way to use it and you listen to your skin, you’ll soon achieve smoother and younger skin. Lastly, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before heading out whether you’re using retinol or not.

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Nicola is always on the lookout for the best beauty tools and skincare products. She believes in "prevention is better than cure" so she is always trying to perfect her beauty routine to avoid premature aging. Fun fact about Nicola: She owns a lot of sunscreens as she carries a mini sunscreen in each of her handbags and backpacks.