Retinol's use has grown over the past few years to the point where it is now ubiquitous in skin care regimens. Even those who haven't used it right away are fascinated about the renowned component. If you're wondering if it's time to add retinol to your skin care routine, continue reading!

What is Retinol?

Retinol is one of the most popular components in skin care products. Retinol, in its over-the-counter variation of retinoids, is manufactured from vitamin A and mostly used to treat acne and issues with mature-appearing skin.

How is Retinol Used in Skincare?

Retinol promotes the generation of skin cells (proliferation). It aids in pore cleaning. Additionally, retinol exfoliates your skin and boosts collagen synthesis, which can lessen the visibility of wrinkles and fine lines and give your skin a younger, plumper appearance1.

Since retinol is a topical medication, you apply it directly to your skin. There are numerous types of retinol, such as:

Additionally, retinol can also be available as gels, lotions, and ointments and is occasionally a component in cosmetics. Although retinol begins to operate in your cells right away, it will take a few weeks before you notice a difference in the texture and appearance of your skin.

In a 2015, participants who used retinol for 8 weeks saw an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles on their neck and around their eyes.

What are the Benefits of Retinol?

The main benefits of retinol lie in this vitamin’s ability to treat a variety of skin-related disorders.

According to studies, topical retinoids can be used to treat stretch marks, acne, and acne scars. Retinol has anti-aging properties as well. Retinol is beneficial for the following conditions in particular:

1. Acne

A common skin problem is acne. You may get blackheads, whiteheads, or other types of pimples when your pores are clogged with dead skin cells and/or oils. By keeping pores from becoming clogged, retinol treats acne. 

2. Acne Scarring

Scars from acne are created by inflammation and damage. As your acne cures, pink, red, or dark spots may develop on your skin. These spots could stay for a few weeks. Additionally, picking or popping your pimples worsens the skin's condition and may leave scars that last a lifetime. Topical retinol treatments can help lessen the inflammation and edema associated with breakouts and can also help prevent new ones. But severe acne scars that are elevated or sunken may not usually respond well to topical retinol treatment.

3. Dark Spots

Your skin might get sun-damaged and acquire dark spots (hyperpigmentation). Your face, hands, neck, or arms may have light to dark brown patches that are caused by an accumulation of the pigment melanin, which gives your skin its color (pigment). These spots, which are also known as liver spots, age spots, and sun spots, are not painful, but there are surgeries and topical treatments that you can try if you don't like how they look. Although it can irritate your skin and takes months, some people find that topical retinol lightens their skin spots. If you're worried about dark spots, it's a good idea to visit a dermatologist (a medical professional who focuses on disorders of the skin).

4. Large Pores

A pore is an opening in your skin's top layer that lets oils and body hair pass through. Your pores enlarge and become more apparent when they are clogged with dead skin cells or oil. Topical retinol reduces the appearance of large pores by promoting skin cell turnover, which thickens your skin, and by halting the growth of clogged pores.

5. Kaposi Sarcoma Lesions

Rare disease known as kaposi sarcoma can strike those with compromised immune systems. Kaposi sarcoma patients frequently experience the development of dark, flat or wavy patches or blotches. They could be in shades of blue, black, pink, red, or purple. A retinoid called allitretinoin can inhibit the development of Kaposi sarcoma cells. Your doctor might advise using alitretinoin gel to your Kaposi sarcoma lesions to decrease their growth even if it doesn't treat cancer.

6. Melasma

Another frequent skin condition called melasma causes dark patches or spots to appear on sun-exposed skin. You develop more melanin when you are exposed to light, heat, and certain hormone levels, which results in these flat, freckle-like spots of light brown, dark brown, or blue-gray skin. Pregnancy is when melasma most frequently occurs. Before utilizing oral, topical, or dietary supplements while pregnant, see your healthcare professional. A topical retinoid (tretinoin) may aid in the fading of melasma spots if you are not pregnant.

7. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that develops when new skin cells grow too quickly due to irritation. The rash becomes thick, scaly, and pink or scarlet as the new cells accumulate. Topical retinol decreases inflammation and slows the proliferation of skin cells, which might assist with the rash. Your doctor will typically advise taking retinol in conjunction with topical steroids because it can also aggravate your skin.

8. Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are scars that form when our skin stretches due to pregnancy, weight increase, quick muscle growth, or significant weight loss. Initially pink, red, or purple in color, these marks progressively wane until they are silver or white. Topical retinol can help make stretch marks less obvious, but before taking it during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, consult your healthcare provider.

9. Wrinkles

Your skin might get wrinkled for a variety of reasons. Your skin cells divide more slowly as you get older. Your skin's dermis, or middle layer, starts to thinning, making it more difficult for moisture to be retained, and having fewer elastin and collagen. By reducing the rate of collagen deterioration and increasing the elasticity of your skin, topical tretinoin and tazarotene can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. To see an improvement after using topical retinol, it typically takes many months.

What are the Types of Retinol?

Retinol comes in different types to attend to what your skin needs. The common types of retinol include the following:

  1. Adapalene: Acne is treated with adapalene. Adapalene belongs to the group of drugs known as retinoid-like compounds. It functions by preventing acne from growing beneath the skin's surface.
  2. Alitretinoin: When oral or intravenous therapy is not required, alitretinoin is applied topically to treat Kaposi's sarcoma. Only a prescription from your doctor is required to purchase this medication.
  3. Bexarotene: Bexarotene, a retinoid analog, is used to treat the cutaneous T cell lymphoma skin symptoms (CTCL).
  4. Tazarotene: Psoriasis is treated using topical gel and cream formulations of tazarotene.
  5. Tretinoin: According to your doctor's recommendations, retinol is utilized to treat skin conditions like acne. It functions in part by maintaining clear skin pores.

How to Use Retinol on the Face?

Do a patch test on a tiny patch of skin before using a retinol product for the first time to check for adverse reactions. You can include retinol in your nighttime skincare routine if, after a few days, your skin patch isn't overly red or itchy.

Follow the directions on the bottle or the advice of your healthcare provider while applying retinol. Here are the general steps you take:

  • Use a light cleanser on your skin, then pat it dry. Avoid exfoliating while using retinol products.
  • Put retinol on your entire face in a thin coating (excluding your mouth, nose and eyes). Use a dose that is roughly the size of a pea. 
  • Apply the retinol just every other day during the first few weeks of treatment.
  • Apply a face moisturizer that won't clog your pores to seal the deal.

In conclusion, it is well recognized that retinoids benefit both aging and acne-prone skin. The most widely used and most readily available form of retinoids for skin care is retinol. Before you notice effects, though, it can take a few months of consistent use. Before purchasing a particular retinol product, think about speaking with a dermatologist. They might offer insightful opinions, particularly if they are acquainted with your skin.