“R” Is For A Miracle Anti-Aging Ingredient

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Retinol (Vitamin A) - A Miracle Anti-Aging Ingredient
“R” Is For A Miracle Anti-Aging Ingredient

Retinoid / Retinol / Vitamin A

If you haven’t already heard, when it comes to anti-aging, Vitamin A plays a vital role. The older we get, the more help we need to boost our skin’s cellular turnover rate. And Vitamin A answers that call. According to research¹, Vitamin A speeds up the skin’s metabolism and promotes cellular turnover – basically it takes your face to the gym! It increases the production of elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid, the skin’s natural moisturizer. Moreover, it acts as a very powerful antioxidant preventing free radicals from damaging skin cells (sun-damage and pollution).

Unfortunately, Vitamin A cannot be synthesized by the body; hence it needs to be supplied to the body in topical or supplemental form. And after years of research, scientists have finally learnt to produce a stable and safe synthetic clone of Vitamin A – Retinoic Acid.

In the cosmetic industry, Vitamin A has many names such as RetinolRetinoids, Tretinoin and Retin A. These are all names for Vitamin A, used in topical skincare. The main difference between them, is that Retinol is an OTC product which contains lower concentrations of Retinoic Acid (metabolite of vitamin A). Whereas Retinoid contains higher concentrations of Retinoic Acid and you can normally only get it with a prescription under the names Retin A or Tretinoin.

They’re all highly effective in reversing  the signs of aging, stimulating collagen production and treating acne – no matter your age. Retinoid is a bit more aggressive and suitable for those with oily or more tolerant skin whereas Retinol is suitable for more sensitive skin types.

Does Topical Retinoic Acid Work? 

I think most people would agree that no matter how wonderful an ingredient is, if it doesn’t get inside your skin to perform it’s miracles – it’s useless. According to research², Retinol penetrates the epidermis very well, undergoes high metabolism and eventually loads skin with Vitamin A. And this is why it’s an extremely effective ingredient in the first place. It helps visibly increase the appearance of firmness, diminish fine lines, wrinkles and acne, significantly improves uneven skin tone, minimizes pores and more; no wonder that for the past 10 years Dermatologists have placed it on a pedestal.

However, it’s important to note that Retinol remains a highly delicate and ‘moody’ ingredient. It breaks down easily with routine exposure to light and air.  The good news is that cosmetic companies have learned to hide Retinol molecules in tiny polymer capsules that protect against light and air. With skin contact, they break and release the active ingredient. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid Retinol products in jars or clear containers.


Retinol or Retinoid? How Much Is Too Much?

OTC products may comprise varying concentrations from 0.01% to 2%. In this case “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better”; and doesn’t guarantee quicker results either. Creams with a lower concentration and capsuled Retinol molecules are much more effective than those with a higher concentration that contain Retinol without a protective shell.

Those with thin or sensitive skin should start with 0.025% Retinol concentration, others may start from 0.5%. You may increase concentration over time if your skin allows.

Side Effects

Most people experience some degree of skin effects when using Retinol, such as burning, redness, itching, peeling and scaling that starts after two to three days and can last up to three months during use. High-dose topical retinoids may also cause thinning skin over time. If side effects don’t subside, consider switching to lower concentration or stop using Retinol.

Cream, Serum or Gel?

Choose the texture based on your skin type. Those with oily skin that’s prone to acne, are better off with a gel/lotion. If you have normal or dry skin then opt for a cream. It’s best to choose bottles with a dispenser or tubes as they help preserve the Retinol.

When To Apply Retinol?

During the first two weeks, use Retinol every two to three days. As your skin gets used to it, you can switch to every other day and, finally, every day. However, if you use it too infrequently (once a week), your skin may not be able to adapt and will remain irritated without positive results.

Retinol is a very potent ingredient, so a pea-size amount is sufficient for your whole face. Apply it with your fingertips on your forehead, cheeks, chin and around your eyes.

Retinol And Other Ingredients

Despite all the wonderful qualities of Vitamin A, science still hasn’t come up with a single magical ingredient that cures all signs of aging. Therefore, using Retinol alone isn’t enough. So try finding products that contain other ingredients as well. But be careful! Given Retinol’s temperamental nature, there are rules when mixing it with other products. It’s best to wait 30-45 minutes for Retinol to penetrate into deeper layers of your skin before applying any other products. Note that ingredients such as BHA and AHABenzoyl Peroxide and Vitamin C may cause additional skin irritation. Therefore, I would advise using these in the morning instead. Even though I don’t have sensitive skin, I experienced a very painful irritation when using Retinol (0.025%) after my face wash which contains AHAs and BHA. So I particularly wouldn’t recommend mixing these two.

Applying Retinol to damp skin also increases the risk of irritation, so wait 30 minutes after washing your face – as soon as your skin gets used to Retinol, you can ignore this rule.

It’s best to apply Retinol at bedtime. You can then go on with your regular morning skincare routine, but don’t forget about sunblock (minimum SPF 30).

Retinol increases the skin’s sensitivity to sun, although no more than an ordinary scrub. Therefore, don’t be afraid to use Retinol in Summer.  In fact it could be the best time to explore Retinol. As humidity keeps your skin hydrated, it helps it adapt to the new product. However, UV rays destroy Vitamin A so again, don’t forget sunblock!

My Beauty Insider Recommends

Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil

Retinol, Vitamin A, Retinoid, Retin A

Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil is a highly concentrated night treatment formulated with 1% Retinol to rapidly resurface uneven skin texture by diminishing the appearance of age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Why do we love it?  It’s the strongest OTC product in oil form, which is suitable for sensitive skin. Besides Retinol it contains a blend of eight natural oils, which stimulate a deeper and more gentle absorption of the Retinol (Vitamins B, C and E, minerals, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids).

Resist Anti-Aging Retinol Serum

Retinol, Vitamin A, Retinoid, Retin AResist Anti-Aging Retinol Serum is an exclusive formula that utilizes a proprietary blend of highly stabilized Retinol, potent antioxidants, and skin-repairing ingredients. Its soothing, silky texture goes to work immediately to help skin of any age look and act younger. Why do we love it? It’s packed with Retinol and other anti-aging ingredients. It has great air tight packaging and all for a reasonable price! The downside is that my skin was slightly irritated and I found the product a little greasy.

Younger: Pure Youth Serum
Retinol, Vitamin A, Retinoid, Retin A

Younger: Pure Youth Serum is a state of the art anti-aging serum that uses a novel complex developed by Dr. Harold Lancer to signal the skin to produce new collagen and elastic tissue. Why do we love it? This serum promises to deliver the benefits of Retinol without side effects, resurfaces skin in two weeks and improves tone, elasticity, lines and wrinkles. So if you have very sensitive skin, this serum should be perfect for you.


→ This review is not sponsored.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6234916
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15087591
Written by

I'm a London based beauty researcher who is continuously on the hunt for the preventative and corrective skincare products and treatments and award-winning spas around the globe.

  • Rochelle says:

    Hi! Great article! I’ve been using 111skin retinol serum for a month now. It’s a great product! My skin looks a lot smoother and it didn’t irritate my skin at all.

  • STSage says:

    I have vitamin A dificiency, that is why my face is prone to pimples and acne. My dermatologist has recomended me the use of retinol products. And I found retinol very effective in controlling my acne and pimples.

  • Lisa Hill says:

    These topical vitamin A based products can be helpful to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I will definitely try one of from them. Thanks for sharing.

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A Few Words From The Founder & Editor-In-Chief

My Beauty Insider a one-stop-shop for information on the best preventative and corrective skincare products and treatments, and award-winning spas around the globe. Our mission is to inform you of the latest innovations in the beauty industry and provide an honest opinion based on personal experience. Finally, our readers' input is invaluable to us - so please leave comments and let us know if there is any particular product or treatment you would like to know about! Maria x