Skincare does do its best to confuse us, with the complicated names and the thorough directions – it can all be a little mystifying. I’m trying to cut through all the marketing, sales and chemist-degree wording, and find out exactly what ingredients do for the skin. In this episode I’m talking about Vitamin A, aka Retinol.
WHAT IS VITAMIN A?
Vitamin A is something everyone needs – it makes sure eyes and skin are healthy and is naturally found. When used in skincare, it’s typically called retinol and it’s used for a lot of things. Vitamin A works by regulating cells and their function within the body and skin. It’s featured so heavily in ~anti-ageing~ products because it essentially helps cells to look healthier.
WHAT DOES VITAMIN A DO FOR THE SKIN?
The ingredient is definitely considered the creme de la creme of skincare ingredients. It’s one of the very best ingredients for delivering noticeable results without being too clinical.
Vitamin A breaks down into a few different strengths – there’s retinoic acid, retinol and retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is prescription strength so retinol is the most commonly found in everyday products.
What it actually does is improve skin by working directly with the cells. It can help to improve skin’s overall texture, work on the pores, help with acne, reduce pigmentation, smooth wrinkles and lines and make everything look a lot more glowing.
HOW DO YOU USE IT IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE?
It’s best used in the evening, so it can work on the skin overnight. Retinol comes in a lot of different formulas and concentrations so there’s no consistency between brands. A mild percentage for a clinical brand might be the strongest from a brand like The Ordinary. It also does tend to leave skin looking a little red and it can peel; this is normal and means it’s doing what you want it too.
To make sure skin isn’t too sore, it’s definitely best to work your way up to using it – it also takes around 48 hours for results so using it two nights in a row is potentially problematic. I use it once or twice a week. Also worth noting that you also have to wear sunscreen (but you should be everyday anyway).
WHAT PRODUCTS HAVE IT IN?
There are loads of retinol products – loads and loads and loads. I’ve tried a few from cosmeceutical brands and they can err on the side of strong so my favourite picks that still deliver results are Zelens & The Ordinary.