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Retinol 101

The gold standard ingredient in anti-aging skin care, retinol, is a superstar that helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, sun damage, hyper-pigmented, dull skin—the list goes on. Yet it has its challenges that sometimes stop people from trying it or using it. This is easy to overcome once you really understand how it works and therefore how best to use it.

Clinical Estheticians and Dermatologists love retinol because of its ability to very effectively communicate and connect to almost any skin cell receptor site and tell them to behave like healthy, younger skin cells. It also functions like an anti-oxidant in its ability to stop the free-radical damage process that causes wrinkling and other signs of aging. It has been shown to help fade hyper-pigmented spots caused from sun damage and increase collagen production.

It also works from the inside out which is very unique when it comes to skin regenerating products. For example Alpha Hydroxy Acids , such as Lactic and Glycolic Acid work from the outside or skin surface in. They work by exfoliating dead surface skin cells and stimulating their renewal along with stimulating collagen production in the lower layers of the skin depending on the formula. You notice the difference on the skin surface immediately.

With retinol it takes several days to several months before you start to notice a difference. Retinol comes in several forms and differing percentages. Retinol over-the-counter formulations, compared to prescription formulas, use an ester form of retinol. This form requires the skin to convert it to retinoic acid once in the skin. This extra step slows down the action of retinol but still delivers excellent results. Prescription strength starts with a higher percentage that penetrates quicker as it does not need to convert and ideally should deliver results quicker. The challenge is that this is not always ideal for most skin types and conditions and is often used incorrectly causing irritation.

Improper use is often the reason that people discontinue use. They have either used too high of a percentage, applied with too heavy of a hand or started with nightly use. After a week of doing any of the above the first application starts to become evident and as each subsequent application begins to have an effect the skin starts to exfoliate too rapidly with irritation. Retinol does not need to have surface irritation to be effective. The irritation and the cascade of problems associated with it, is better avoided by using it appropriately for your skin type and condition.

So how do you get the great results for a healthier more youthful looking skin with Retinol or Retinoic Acid? It is important to remember that chemically both forms do exactly the same thing – retinol-based treatments will just take a little longer. At The Summit our experience tells us that going slower with less irritation creates the best environment for long lasting success of retinol for our clients. It also allows for even sensitive skin to be trained to tolerate and benefit from retinol.

Here are our TOP TIPS:

1. Do not have facial waxing on any area that you are using retinol. Retinol must be discontinued for 6 weeks prior to waxing. It is very important to let your Clinical Esthetician or Dermatologist know you are using retinol before starting any skin treatment like peels, laser, IPL etc. 

2. Use only at night. Sunlight destroys the effectiveness of retinol.

3. Start with the lowest percentage of Retinol. We recommend GM Collins Advanced Retinol.

4. Apply on a clean, PATTED DRY face. This will cause less sensitivity. Retinol does not like water. Your moisturizer applied after is therefore best to not be a gel base. See below for more recommendations. 

5. Use a small amount – no slathering on for better results!

6. Begin with 1 time use the first week. Increase to twice a week the following week. Increase to every other night usage the next week. You might find your skin starts to feel tingly or sensitive. If so stay at this rate until this diminishes before increasing to nightly use.

7. After using your first jar of retinol then increase your % to .3% Retinol. Our recommendation is Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3. When you start this higher % begin with only twice a week the first week and continue to increase usage as above.

8. After your first bottle of 0.3% retinol you can increase to .5%. Our recommendation is Skinceuticals Retinol .5 . You may not need to increase to a .5% Retinol. You may find it hard to achieve nightly use of a .3% formulation and therefore staying with a .3% is the best choice for your skin type. After succesffuly using .5% retinol you can then increase to 1.0%. Our recommendation is Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0

9.If you have dry, dehydrated skin you will need a moisturizer applied on top of your retinol product. Most skin types will benefit from an additional moisturizer. Our top recommendation is Skinceuticals Triple Lipid  Repair

10. Be sure to know what you are applying on top of your retinol cream. Do not apply creams or treatments that contain or AHA’s, Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide.

11. Be patient – you will be rewarded with a healthier more vibrant, youthful looking and feeling skin.

10. If patience has not been your best virtue and your skin has become sensitized or irritated GM Collin’s Ceramide Comfort Capsules are ideal for applying on top of your Retinol Cream or in place of it for a few nights.

12. Need more help? Call us to book a Clinical Skin Care Consultation with one of our Master Clinical Estheticians for a customised program and a wealth of experience!