Hey you lovely people!
How is everyone? I had the ‘Lockdown birthday’ experience last week. It’s an interesting one isn’t it! Even though it didn’t feel overly different, it did. Does that make any sense at all haha? Anyway, I had a great one and now I’ve stopped drinking and eating crap, I thought I’d write my next blog post on something that my love for is only continuing to get stronger and stronger by the day. Does the title of this post give it away at all? You guessed it… the magical ingredient which we call, RETINOL.
Now if you haven’t heard of this word/ingredient, even just passing through boots, where have you been? I’ll be honest I have only recently religiously started using it myself every day (I’ve always been interested but I made the common mistake a while back of starting too strongly, which I will of course elaborate on later on) as basically a while back I didn’t really understand it and thought it was only for people who were covered in wrinkles (promise that’s not aimed at anyone specific!) and I quite frankly didn’t think I needed it. Well, how wrong was I! Now I’ve learnt a tonne more about it, tried and tested some products, I thought I’d lovingly share my findings with you all.
So, for those of you haven’t heard of it, let me explain (Please bare with me though, this is the most hyped, misunderstood and feared ingredient, i’ll try my absolute best to put it simply) so here goes…
Retinol is basically a super powerhouse ingredient and vitamin A derivative. It dives deep, deep down into the skin and rapidly speeds up cell renewal and encourages collagen production, basically. Anddd believe it or not, it’s not just great for ageing skin, it’s amazing for breakout prone skin too due do the fact it speeds up cell renewal and deeply exfoliates (and de-clogs) those lovely little pores (I know it sounds like an ah-mazing combination right? I promise it’s not too good to be true). Retinol really does seem to be super up and coming for all the right reasons, with lots of companies recently jumping on this bandwagon. And to be honest, no wonder they are!
However, this is where it gets confusing, there’s 101 different terms, there’s: Retinol, Retinoids and Retinoic acids etc. I know, this is what threw me but bare with me. Retinol is just a specific type of ‘Retinoid’ (‘Retinoid’ is almost like the umbrella word shall we say) and some you can buy and some are over the counter prescription strengths (these are generally called Retinoids, Retinoic acid, Retin-A etc. There’s a pretty hefty list). For a bit of a science’y insight (I’m no scientist but i’ll explain my understanding); ‘Retinoic acid’ is the final product which your skin will eventually produce when you apply any form of Retinol basically. As if you were to apply neat ‘Retinoic acid’ it would be far, far too strong and you would probably end up looking like a shrivelled tomato. So scientists and companies have cleverly created products with much weaker strains which are safe to apply and then your skin works the magic very slowly deep down. How clever eh! Therefore all in all, all you really need to know is the word ‘Retinol’ when shopping around, unless you are heading for the higher strength product or after professional advice.
This delightfully brings me onto my next point, please start slow! (This is the mistake which I mentioned above which I have previously made, oops!). Retinol is killer strong sometimes, so perseverance is crucial. By this I mean do a little bit of research (you’re halfway there reading this by the way ;)) and find out which is best for your skin type and read reviews, they can be your best friends sometimes. There are some absolutely amazing products out there, but there is no lie in the fact that it’s confusing, especially when it comes to the percentage of retinol, i.e. 0.05%, 1% etc. (It still baffles me), so pay a little bit of attention to this but not too much because it can be deceiving, as believe it or not two 1%’s don’t always mean the same apparently because it depends what other compounds are involved. I know it’s baffling right? So the best way is to read the description and see what skin that particular product is best for. All that said, I’m going to completely contradict myself here and say; start as low as you can with regards to the percentages (1% is generally always as far as I believe, too high to start with) and just try low (as in numbers with zeros) and see how your skin reacts! Oh and FYI don’t use more than one retinol product, they don‘t mix well, you’re welcome!
Swiftly moving on from the numbers/science part (I can hear your relief from here…), another thing to always remember with active ingredients such as retinol is perseverance is massively key! To put it bluntly, you’re not going to get life changing results overnight, sorry. As retinol speeds up cell renewal and de-clogs everything, expect to experience a little ’purge’ breakout at first (especially if you’re blemish prone, you may be lucky if you’re not), trust me, it’s bringing all of the nasty stuff up at first but it will be worth it in the long run! ‘Purge’ breakouts are typically little (or big) whiteheads or blackheads. It’s normal to get a little bit of dryness also at first, if this does occur (and as long as it’s not sore) power through, this will subside eventually. Equally, don’t expect to look 10 years younger overnight. Your facial skin completely regenerates over the course of a month, therefore it can take anything from 1 month to 6 months to see real results, so keep powering through people!
Of course with any active products, there’s a big but… Please don’t listen to me and power through if it makes your skin super uncomfortable/irritated (for example, red, sore, itchy etc.), there’s a fine line between reacting to a product and getting a purge of dryness and breakouts, but like I’ve said above a bit of general dryness is perfectly normal with retinol. Also, if you are prone to a bit of eczema, psoriasis or rosacea I would definitely proceed with caution or avoid entirely, just in case.
Then (I bet you were waiting for this Coming from me…) always please apply your SPF in the day when using Retinol. Due to it’s resurfacing amazing-ness and that baby soft skin it will bring to the surface, it will make you slightly more prone to sun damage so please also invest in a decent SPF in the day (ideally one with an SPF of 30+), you can thank me later. My favourite (as mentioned in my other posts) is my good old trusty La Roche Posay Anthelios Anti-imperfections SPF50+, love it. Another little point to add, is that in daylight retinol breaks down. so if you can try to stick to just applying at night, you’ll get your best skin that way!
So by this point you’re probably thinking, she’s only 22 or what benefits has she found for herself so far? (Maybe you’re not, but you can catch my drift…). So skin care specialists actually recommend starting anti ageing products in your early twenties as a preventative to wrinkles when you’re older (Don’t know about you, but I’m all for that!), however if you’re older than me and you’re thinking you’re too late, always remember the good old trusty saying “better late than never” and to be honest starting in your twenties is fairly early anyway, but why not eh! Now lets move on to my experience so far… If you can’t tell from my tone in this post, I absolutely love it! I’ve been using my fave – Pixi Retinol tonic everyday. This I’ve mentioned in my previous post ‘What I put on my skin day in, day out’ but I absolutely love it. This is super gentle (and to make it easier, there’s no percentages, which I’m assuming makes it super weak (but not too weak), the description/ingredients list is very vague, but albeit the perfect way to start as its so gentle). This formula is also very hydrating which is a plus. 2 months in and I have noticed a HUGE difference in my skin, okay I do still get the odd breakout, but they heal so much quicker and this helps to prevent such prominent marks afterwards. Also, since using retinol I’ve noticed that my skin looks so much more ‘glowy’ and more even, even to the point where my lockdown face only now consists of a tiny bit of concealer where needed and I can’t see myself using much more afterwards either. I have well and truly surprised myself there too haha. Overall, I think it’s safe to say I will not be changing any time soon!
All in all (and for if you haven’t taken anything in from this post up to now) here’s a little run down of the benefits, put simply…
- It reduces fine lines and wrinkles dramatically over time.
- Helps reduce breakouts.
- It gently exfoliates, revealing your inner glow!
- It’s also known as vitamin A.
- It comes in many different strengths and formulations.
- It naturally thickens your skin over time.
- Packaging is key & ’use by‘ dates should be paid attention to.
- It takes time to see results.
- It’s blooming complicated, no doubt about it!
So there we have it! I’m no skincare scientist, but hopefully that made a touch of sense. If in doubt please give it a go, I’m sure you wont regret it, fingers crossed. Hope you love it as much as me!
Lots of love, Ella x
P.s I would love to hear your retinol experiences/fave products below!!