Why you should be using a Retinoid: A Beginners Guide.

Why you should be using a Retinoid: A Beginners Guide.

By Emily Ruse, Front of House Manager

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one skincare product with you, what would it be? Well, I’ll tell you what we’d choose, a Retinoid! As fabulous as any other product may be, there is nothing that surpasses the power of a retinoid. It is hands down the most active product out there to fight anything from acne to wrinkles and everything in between. When it comes to skincare ingredients, this is one of the biggest players in the game. With decades of research and seals of approval from dermatologists and skincare practitioners worldwide, the popularity of retinol is huge, and everybody should be using one. However, getting into retinol isn’t quite as simple as picking a product off the shelf and slapping it on your face so if you’re considering adding this multi-functioning ingredient to your skincare regime, here’s a quick guide to get you started.

What is retinol/retin-a/tretinoin/retinoid?

To put it simply, it can be broken down into two categories: Retinol and Retinoid. Both Tretinoin and Retin-a are considered Retinoids.

Retinol and retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives. When applied topically Vitamin A does a multitude of things for your skin:

    • Increases cellular turnover.
    • Normalises oil production.
    • Stimulates fibroblasts.
    • Promotes natural moisturization.
    • Stimulates blood flow to the skin.
    • Regulates epithelial cell growth.
    • Speeds up healing (post acne).

So, what is the difference between Retinoids and Retinol?

Retinoids are a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A and are considered a pharmaceutical product due to their strength and efficiency. They come in three strengths: .025%, .05% and .1%. Tretinoin is one of the most popular prescription topical retinoids. When applied to the skin it will help to unclog pores and stimulate collagen in the dermis. Retinoids cause the cells on the skin to divide and die at a faster rate, increasing cell turnover. This is especially beneficial for those suffering from acne as it works to prevent new spots from forming. It is also very successful at targeting deep wrinkles or thick skin. Retinoids usually take 6-8 weeks to produce optimum results and light peeling and dryness should be expected during this time.

Retinol, on the other hand, is a natural form of Vitamin A and is much gentler. It doesn’t have as great of an effect on the skin as it must be converted by enzymes in the skin in order for it to become a retinoid. Due to the conversion, it has to undergo before the skin can process it, retinol is naturally much gentler meaning that its results are slower and it has fewer side effects. It produces the same collagen stimulating effects as a retinoid, but its delivery is much slower. On the flip side, it is a great alternative for those with drier or more sensitive skin. Retinols generally takes a few months to reach their full effect and shouldn’t cause much irritation.

Should you be using a retinol or a retinoid?

It entirely depends on your skin type and what you’re looking to target. But everyone should be using one of the two. If you’re oilier, acne-prone, have deep wrinkles or merely just want to have super smooth, glowy skin, then a Retinoid will be your best friend. If you’re more sensitive, suffer from dry skin, have rosacea or don’t want to flake at all then a retinol is for you.

What strength should you use?

Our skin isn’t naturally tolerant to Vitamin A, so it is crucial you gradually build up this tolerance. People often think their skin will be able to handle it and go straight in for regular use with a high strength retinoid/retinol in the hope they will see results quicker. In reality, this can lead to redness, dryness and irritation. If you have never used a retinoid on the skin before, always begin at the lower level and gradually work your way up to a higher percentage. Never push your skin to tolerate higher levels of retinol, as long as it’s suitable for your skin you will see results.

How often should you use your retinoid/retinol?

Again, this is all about building up usage to allow your skin to adjust. If you have been advised to use the product by a professional, they will let you know how regularly they recommend you apply it. Normally it’s advisable that you start off using your product two or three times a week and slowly build up usage as the skin acclimatizes. Ideally, you should eventually be applying it every single day as leaving too long of a gap causes the flow of cellular turnover to slow down and the top layers of the epidermis will thicken causing you to lose your healthy skin – so, unfortunately, using your product once a week just won’t cut it.

Your retinoid/retinol has made your face peel. Is that normal?

If you are using a retinoid then yes, absolutely! Your skin is purging dead skin cells. It will take around 6-8 weeks but once those damaged skin cells are exfoliated the skin will be smooth and glowing. A retinol shouldn’t make you dry or flaky. If it does then you need to try a brand that is formulated to deliver the correction without the irritation. Retinols have come a long way over the years and are now so much more tolerable than they once were.

What else do you need to know before using a retinoid/retinol?

Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. You must be extra diligent about sun protection in order for you to get the most out of your retinol product. Retinol can make your skin more sensitive when exposed to UV light. This is why it is recommended to use it only at night. Also, daily sunscreen use can help prevent premature skin ageing, just another welcome bonus!

Before you rush out to buy a retinoid product, it is recommended that you meet with a skincare professional to have your skin properly assessed. We can assess your skin type to determine which retinoid product is right for you.


Our favourite Retinoid/Retinol products:


Obagi Tretinoin:  Tretinoin is one of the most popular prescription topical retinoids. It can be used to treat lines and wrinkles, mild to moderate acne and hyperpigmentation. Although Retinoids can be highly effective at stimulating collagen production, they can also cause significant peeling and/or irritation. For this reason, it is recommended that you gradually introduce it to your skincare routine.







Zo Retinol Skin Brightener: This is a high potency retinol product which comes in both .05% and .1% retinol. It targets skin discolouration and breaks up existing pigmentation while increasing cell turnover to rapidly brighten and even skin tone. It even has the added bonus on Vitamin C & E which provide antioxidant properties.







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