You’ve no doubt heard the word before: retinol. You know it’s used for the skin, but you’re not sure what it does. Maybe you’ve been curious if a retinol cream could help your skin? With so many buzz words in the skin care market today, it’s easy to get confused. Have no fear…we will fill you in on the basics of retinol creams, and help find the best one for you!
What’s the difference between a retinoid and retinol?
Very simple, a retinoid is usually obtained with a prescription, while retinols can be purchased over the counter (OTC). A prescription retinoid will contain a higher percentage of the active ingredient (retinoic acid) than an OTC retinol, and will also likely be much more expensive, but definite results can still be seen with many OTC retinol products, and their efficiency has been well documented.
What is a retinol and what does a retinol cream do?
“Retinoid” is a derivative of Vitamin A, and is used to speed cellular turnover in the skin, unclog and tighten pores, boost collagen, reduce fine lines, and even out discoloration. Your skin cells contain “retinoid receptors” that work to maintain and regulate the function of healthy cells. As you age, and expose your skin to sun and environmental damage, these functions decrease, and thus damage appears in the form of acne, wrinkles, and discoloration. Regular, consistent use of a retinoid/retinol product helps to stabilize these functions again. The first retinoid developed for use on the skin was released in 1971, as a treatment for acne.
Uses of retinol creams
Acne – Retinols can be used alone to treat acne, or can be used to enhance the effectiveness of other acne products. By increasing the cellular turnover rate, retinols help to unclog pores of dead cells, excess oil, and bacteria commonly associate with acne.
Wrinkles – Retinols help to not only bring new, smooth skin to the surface through increased cellular turnover, but they also help increase the production of collagen, a natural protein in the body that acts as the main structural component of the skin, providing firmness and shape.
Skin discoloration – It also helpful in lessening the appearance of sun spots, acne scars, age spots, and other areas of hyperpigmentation through increased cellular turnover and increased blood flow to skin. As the discolored areas are pushed to the surface, they can be removed through exfoliation, allowing smoother, clearer, new skin to be revealed.
Application and use
Since both retinoids and retinols are what’s known as “photo-inactive,” which means that direct sunlight can break down the active ingredients and make them less effective, it’s best to use these products at night. Some people may develop sensitivity, so you might want to begin by applying once every other night. Also, some people may experience dryness in the area, so it’s best to use a retinol cream along with a moisturizer until the skin gets accustomed to the retinol (usually about 2 weeks).
Our top picks
Below we’ve compiled a list of the top retinol creams for use, rating them on effectiveness, customer satisfaction, safe ingredients, and ease of use.
- MONICA’S BEAUTY 2.5% RETINOL MOISTURIZER – Available on Amazon and at https://shop.monicasbeauty.com/products/retinol-moisturizer
- ADVANCED DERMATOLOGY – Available online, and at http://www.advanceddermatology.com
- LA PRAIRIE CELLULAR CREAM PLATINUM – Available online, at http://www.laprairie.com, and in select stores.
- RoC RETINOL CORREXION DEEP WRINKLE NIGHT CREAM – Widely available online on and in drugstores. For more information, also check out: http://www.rocskincare.com.
- StriVectin-AR ADVANCED RETINOL NIGHT TREATMENT – Available online, at http://www.strivectin.com, in select stores, and drugstores.
- NEUTROGENA RAPID WRINKLE REPAIR MOISTURIZER, Night – Widely available online, and in drugstores.