The Pros and Cons of Using Retinol – Plus, When You Should Start

Retinol is touted as a holy grail ingredient for smoothing out fine lines, helping with skin texture and tone, and getting a youthful glow over time. This MVP ingredient promises to fight the signs of aging by encouraging cell turnover. But how does it actually work? And how should you incorporate it into your skincare routine to see results?

Retinol
is a type of vitamin A – also found in foods like carrots, milk, and eggs – that naturally occurs in our skin. When applied and absorbed into the skin, enzymes convert retinol to retinoic acid, which stimulates the production of healthy new skin cells (kind of like Baby Foot, without the snake-like shedding).

Over-the-counter retinols typically range from 0.1 to 1.0 percent concentrations – the higher the concentration, the more potent it is. It’s recommended to apply retinol products at night and to start slow – once or twice a week – and work your way up, depending on how your skin tolerates it. Also, since retinol can dry out your skin and boost its sensitivity, moisturize and slather on SPF during the day to further protect your skin.

Along with retinol, there are a few other “R” words out there – namely, Retin-A and retinoids. Basically, retinol and Retin-A are both different types of retinoids. Retinol is in over-the-counter products that can treat wrinkles and improve skin texture. Retin-A (the brand name for Tretinoin) is a more potent form of vitamin A that treats acne.

Now that you have a better idea of what retinol can do for your skin, watch the latest episode of POPSUGAR beauty explainer series The Makeup for more retinol tips and product recommendations from our resident beauty expert, Kirbie Johnson.

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