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Retinol - The One Man Band of Skincare

When I was new to skincare, the word “retinol” scared the hell out of me, and I know some of you can totally relate to this. For that reason, I crafted this blog to share some of my knowledge backed by extensive research and references, regarding Retinol to skincare beginners. Before I share it, let’s all make a fair ground by removing from our minds that the word “retinol” entails a red flag in it. There’s nothing to be afraid of, in fact, it is one of the magic potions when it comes to skincare products. Why is that? Continue reading to find out!

Retinol, a miracle worker.

In order to analyze the above written statement, we must first define what retinol is. Retinol, broadly speaking, is derived from Vitamin A, and is technically, a type of retinoid. To be precise, it is the alcohol formulation of Vitamin A.  These retinoids work by making the skin cell turnover and collagen production faster.  Well, it is an anti-aging miracle worker, a wrinkle buster as others may call it, and an acne fighter after all, which, when used properly and for a longer period, would definitely result to a glowier, smoother, firmer, plumper and a more even skin-tone. I know, that’s a lot of adjectives in one sentence, but what can I do, it truly is a one-man band of skincare. Not only those, it can also make your skin appear rosier because retinoids stimulate more blood flow. This is not just a mere hearsay, it is backed by scientific research wherein the effectivity of retinoid was tested for 40 weeks to patients with hyperpigmentation and improvements were found however, just like any other things that are too good, 50% of these patients experienced adverse reaction (retinoids are known to be drying) which were really not that serious, it was easily managed with emollients or temporary medication. 

Retinol suddenly became the talk of the skincare community, although it has been around for a long time. It has gained its popularity due to its beneficial effects on acne and aging skin. Again, this fact was backed by research wherein it was found that primary acne lesions are likely to improve weeks before PIH resolves if the person was using retinoids. Moreover, it was found by the same study that inflammatory lesion counts were reduced by 80% through the usage of retinoids once a day, consistently for 12 weeks use of retinoids continuously. 

Because retinoids have been in the market for quite some time now, you may notice that those products that contain retinol have already been carefully formulated according to the strength that your skin can tolerate or needs. Products formulated for beginners or those with sensitive skin contain 0.01% - 0.03%. Some good products under this range are:


    CKD Retino Collagen Small Molecule 300 Cream (0.02% Retinol)

    CKD Retinol Collagen Small Molecule 300 Intensive Cream


    Innisfree Retinol Cica Repair Ampoule (0.015% Retinol)


    Innisfree Retinol Cica Repair Ampoule

    Moreover, for those that have already started and wanted to up their retinol game, here’s a really good  mid-strength Retinol products which contains 0.03% - 0.3% retinol


    Scinic Cicanoid Retinal Cream (0.05% Retinal, 0.05% Bakuchiol, 0.01% Retinol)

    This Scinic Cicanoid Retinal cream is a mild retinol cream that prevents early signs of aging and restores skin’s elasticity. It contains Retinol, Phyto Retinol (Bakuchiol) and Adenosine and is also clinically tested as suitable for sensitive – skin which makes it great for first timers in the retinol game. 

    Of course, for those who are looking for high strength Retinol or those products that have 0.3% - 1% Retinol to further enhance their skin, the COSRX Real Fit Retinol Serum containing 0.5% Retinyl Palmitate would be the best fit.


    Retinol vs. Retinal

    As you browse over the shelves of the shops for skincare, you might have come across some products containing retinal, some people even confused it with retinol. I’m going to start this by saying, THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. Although they both function to speed up cellular regeneration and collagen production and inhibit the production of excess melanin, they primarily differ in terms of the speed before results can be visibly seen.  Retinal works quicker than retinol. In fact, a study found that retinal works 11 times faster and has a much higher exfoliation rate.

    Given this fact, retinal was known to be quite harsh and would more likely cause irritation but thanks to new developments, there are now retinal products that are as gentle to the skin as retinol. 


    Retinol in Action

    Retinol, as I said, is a miracle worker, but this does not mean that after using it for 2 weeks, the results will already be visible. So here I am, reminding you that for a product to work on your skin, you must continue using it, hence, those that contain Retinol, as study shows, must take at least 3 to 12 months of regular use for you to see big improvements. 

    When using Retinol, don’t make the mistake of using too much as it can result to dryness and irritation (well, too much is never good after all) Because of this, doctors recommend using them every other day to introduce it to the skin on first use, then work your way up to nightly application, and of course, SUNSCREEN for the day as this ingredient increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, which is the reason why, retinol is best applied at night. 

    A better suggestion on how to use retinoids or incorporate it in your skincare routine is to gradually introduce it to your skin, like say, for starters, use it once a week first, then gradually increase it in the future. You can also use the famous sandwich method to reduce irritation or redness for first timers. This sandwich method is done by layering your moisturizer, followed by your retinoid and finally another layer of moisturizer on top. Remember to layer and not mix it. For me this sandwich method worked best, I can personally attest to its effectiveness as this was what helped me get over the first few weeks of retinoid incorporation until my skin finally got used to it. But this doesn’t mean that what worked for me will also work for you, remember, skincare is personal, meaning, it varies from person to person depending on the skin type, skin concern and target or goal. 

    Of course, all good things have limitations, with retinol, it is its side effects, it can cause dryness, irritation, as other skincare products, itchiness, peeling, redness, stinging and sun sensitivity which usually subsides after a few weeks as the skin adapts to the product. So, nothing to worry about there, just need to be careful in the amount you use when applying it.  These side effects are totally worth it for the result because retinol, as an active ingredient, is proven to help reduce wrinkles, acne, sun damage, uneven or dull skin, melasma, hyperpigmentation, large pores and oily skin. But, again, you must remember that regular use for several months is the key to achieve these results. 

    Given all these benefits about retinol, are you excited to try one? Well, clear, smooth, and wrinkle free skin? Who are you to say no to that, right? 


    Skincare ingredients that must never be used with retinol

    Retinol, being an active ingredient, and a strong exfoliator, can’t be used together with AHAs and BHAs which are exfoliators too, remember, too much of the same thing is never good. Astringents, medicated cleansers and other drying agents are also a big no-no when it comes to using retinol. This is because retinol tends to dry out your skin, so the last thing you need is another drying agent. And last on the no-no list are products containing benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient also has the same effect as retinol and this particular ingredient (benzoyl peroxide) would cause retinol to oxidize, making it less effective. 


    Don’t worry because retinol can safely be used with other products. For one, the cult favorite and well loved Dr.Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Essence. This could be a really good fit for it, as this Kombucha Essence provides intense hydration. Given its name, you can already guess the main ingredient of this product --- Kombucha tea. Kombucha is actually a fermented version of black or green tea. The fermentation process amplifies the naturally occurring concentration of probiotics, vitamin C, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Since it is in liquid form, it is mostly made out of water which can result in intense hydration of the skin and when this happens, the skin’s elasticity improves drastically which would further result in a reduction of fine lines and signs of aging. Not only this, Kombucha is also known to have antioxidant properties, effective in making the skin brighter and improves its texture. On top of these, it also has antiseptic qualities and natural acids that would definitely help in balancing the skin’s pH levels for a clearer complexion. 

    If those facts haven’t enticed you enough to try it, maybe my personal testimony might help. I, myself, can attest to its effectiveness in hydrating and moisturizing the skin, which could really help if you are using retinol. You can layer it multiple times and I kid you not that it won’t feel heavy at all. Not only that, it can also soothe the skin and purify it by balancing oil and water. Amazing right? Not only is this product visually appealing and satisfying, it is also truly effective too! 

    What are your thoughts about this Kombucha Essence? Or have you ever tried using it together with retinoids? Let us know in the comments below.

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