Retinol Benefits for Skin – How and Why Does Retinol Work?
No matter what you build in life, you always need to start with a strong foundation. This axiom is no less true in the anti-aging skincare world, because any great anti-aging regimen should build on the same great foundation: Retinol. Let’s take a look at how retinol benefits your skin, and how.
Retinol is a naturally-occurring substance that is literally the best over the counter anti-aging ingredient on earth. Much as you want to build your home on solid ground, retinol provides that base to build upon in your anti-aging regimen.
How does Retinol work?
The reason Retinol (otherwise known as Vitamin A) is so effective at preventing skin aging is because scientific research has clearly demonstrated its benefits. In general, Retinol acts as a sort of skin cell hypnotist, because it attaches to almost any skin cell and convinces it to behave like a younger, healthy skin cell. Retinol also works as an antioxidant, which can prevent free radicals and increase collagen production; it can also reduce existing wrinkles, fight acne, unclog pores, strengthen aging skin, and repair sun-damaged skin. These benefits will give you better facial skin, clear your face, reduce face lines and red cheeks, as well as fight and prevent aging skin.
What rigors of testing has Retinol gone through?
Retinol certainly has a great reputation, but what’s important is the fact that these conclusions are based upon scientific, peer-reviewed experimentation.
In one experiment, consisting of elderly (average age of 87) subjects, scientists applied Retinol-based lotion to one arm and non-Retinol lotion on the subject’s other arm. After this time concluded, the University of Michigan Medical School dermatologists concluded that, Retinol “improves fine wrinkles associated with natural aging… [R]etinol-treated aged skin is more likely to withstand skin injury and ulcer formation along with improved appearance.” This study continued as authority on the subject within the dermatology field after it was conducted.
When asked about the study’s significance one scientist remarked, “In the past, it was everyone believed that retinoids would treat only photoaging, or damage from exposure to sun. This is the first systematic, double-blind study showing that it improves any kind of aging – photoaging as well as natural aging,” said co-author John J. Voorhees, M.D., the Duncan and Ella Poth Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “You can rub it anywhere, and it will help to treat the signs of aging.”
However, if you remember our article about choosing an anti-aging product that’s right for you all consumers should be aware of any potential risks or downsides in order to make an informed choice. Despite Retinol’s wild scientific successes, some have criticized its effectiveness.
The popular criticism is the thinking that the improvement will be so small that human eyes are unable to detect the improvement. While this may or may not be true (nobody has done a scientific test on this criticism yet), the point to remember is that anti-aging benefits are a slow process (around 12 weeks at least), and it takes time to see any drastic improvement. One should also notice that this criticism also does not take away from the scientific fact that Retinol does in fact work, it just might not work to turn skin around 180 degrees.
Additional points about how to use Retinol products
With all this said, you should remember a few key points about Retinol use:
1. Retinol is available over the counter―there’s no need for a prescription, although prescription Retinoids do exist for more extreme cases. However, it’s wise to start with an over the counter formula so that you can ease yourself in.
2. Don’t use Retinol with products containing benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydroxy acids. This pairing will cause your skin to dry out, and it will neutralize the effects of Retinol. In addition to prohibitions on use, don’t use Retinol if you’re pregnant or nursing.
3. A very small percentage of people’s skin are unable to handle Retinol. If you fall into the category, you should use a gentle physical exfoliator twice a week to soften your skin, and be extra-conscientious about sunscreen to prevent collagen loss in the first place. Similarly, the sheer effectiveness of retinol can increase sensitivity to the sun and increase the chance of sunburn.
Retinol is one of the best anti-aging ingredients out there, and it is one of the few which has stood the test of peer-reviewed dermatological testing. If you’re looking for a great anti-aging routine, start with Retinol.
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