What Is Retinol?
It’s easy to piece together a basic understanding of ingredients when you hear about them all the time, but it’s important to know exactly what they are and how they may affect you. Retinol is part of the retinoid family, a vitamin A derivative that has antioxidant properties according to the Mayo Clinic. Unlike other anti-aging ingredients that naturally occur in the body, such as collagen and hyaluronic acid, retinol is obtained either topically or through food (the Mayo Clinic states that leafy greens, cantaloupe, carrots and dairy products are rich in vitamin A).
Clinical trials and studies have shown retinol to be effective in reducing wrinkles, photoaging and skin discoloration, as the molecules that make up retinol are so small that they can penetrate deep into the lower layers of the skin, where it finds collagen and elastin. According to further research in the NCBI library, retinoids work to strengthen the skin’s barrier function (which in turn improves skin texture and skin tone), reduce transepidermal water loss, and protect collagen to prevent it from degrading.
The Mayo Clinic even cites retinol as a common topical treatment for acne. Depending on your specific skin care concerns, your dermatologist may give you a prescription for retinol or recommend a drugstore retinol based product.
Keep in mind, retinol can be drying for the skin in the first weeks of use, Zeichner informs, and it can increase the skin’s sun sensitivity, as per the American Academy of Dermatology. So consulting with your doctor is important if you’re looking to add retinol to your healthy skin regimen.