The do’s and don’ts of using retinol
As I have recently discovered, my genetic makeup means my skin deals well with sun damage. Even so, on my recent trip to Evian-Les-Bains and with the amazing heatwave the UK has been experiencing, I realised for the first time exactly what this actually looks like. I have the hours spent with Renee at The Cosmetic Skin Clinic, who notices every new beauty mark or sign of ‘pigmentation’ to thank for that. Yes you heard that right, freckles, tanned skin, the odd tea-coloured sunspot – most of which we view as desirable and youthful – are actually a potential ageing factor. But this isn’t so much about how we should walk around with wide brimmed hats all the time, as chic as they are. It’s about the new buzzword ingredient that’s been capturing the devotion of everyone that’s used it: retinol.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a form of Vitamin A and a non-prescriptive version of Tretinoin. It’s proven to stimulate collagen production, as well as minimising the appearance of ageing and is effective in combatting sun damage. There are a lot of myths around this hero substance, but I spoke to Renee to get the truth on the do’s and don’ts of using retinol.
Accompany it with ample sunscreen if you are applying during the day but for those of us who can’t even remember what toner does, best to use it during your evening routine alone. This is also why many products containing Vit A are marketed as overnight treatments and everyone will tell you to stick to this rule.
Increase the potency step by step. When I was testing out the Dermapen treatment at EF Medispa, the aesthetic practitioner held back from adding a layer of retinol to help my skin heal because I hadn’t used it before. Going for something too concentrated too quickly can cause irritation.
Use it every night when you first start, you need to let your skin rest. Some people don’t react well to retinol but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re intolerant but just sensitive. They can build up their receptivity through careful and controlled use.
Mix retinol (Vitamin A) with Vitamin C. Renee says that doing this can cause a bad reaction but “usually neither can do their job. They just cancel each other out [because] the molecules in those ingredients destroy each other”. Instead, just use them at separate times of the day – for example, a Vitamin C serum in the morning and retinol in the evening. The only exception being MZ Skin’s range that was formulated specifically to work together.
Products I’m loving
Fast absorbing, light but nourishing this is one of the best day creams I’ve ever used. The plus side and big surprise is that it’s the only product you can use daily that contains 0.5% retinol (quite a low dosage) because it also has SPF 30. However, if you know you’re going to be outdoors with a lot of sun exposure rather than in an office, it’s best to top up with sun protection during the day. The only downside is that the product smells a little like sweaty feet, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have a lingering scent on your face.
… and those I’ve heard good things about
Outift 1: Tara Jarmon dress
Outfit 2: Tara Jarmon x Albertine swimsuit (on sale now!)
Shop my look