It's not just a celebrity secret anymore. Retinol is hailed as the holy grail of anti-aging (at least topically) and is known as the beauty worlds best needle-free answer to smoother skin as it lessens scars, lines and wrinkles. As a derivative of vitamin A, retinol has been medically and scientifically proven to speed up the skin's cell cycle. But before you rush off and start Googling retinol creams, know that it's not for everyone and you may find just as many horror stories as there are rave reviews. Let's see if retinol is a match for you:
1. Do you have sensitive skin? If you do, retinol is probably not a good choice for you. Retinol is extremely potent and powerful, and people with reactive skin find it is too harsh for them. You may find your skin more red, dry, flaky, and irritated than it was before using it.
2. Are you pregnant? If so, retinol should definitely be avoided. It's efficiency comes from the fact that it is absorbed into the body and creates activity in the skin cells. Vitamin A is very hazardous to a developing fetus and has been known to cause birth defects.
3. Will you wear SPF? When using retinoids, whether topically or in over-the-counter medication, always remember to wear a high grade sunscreen, as retinol does increase photosensitivity.
4. Are you ok with the concept of "worse before it gets better"? Many find this to be the case with use of retinoids. As I mentioned before, the redness, dryness and flakiness happens to most people. But with proper care and lots of hydration, both internally and externally, these effects should subside within 2 weeks. And as always if these symptoms continue to persist absolutely stop using any kind of retinoids right away.
Not so sure if retinol is for you right now? You might be in luck soon. While there is no alternative that is comparable to the effects of retinol at the moment, there are products being developed that are more sensitive skin friendly and include retinol derivatives, which are man made ingredients that negate the bad side effects of natural retinol.
Whatever you decide, just always remember that it's a good idea to always consult your dermatologist, and discuss with them whether a retinol is right for you.