Really into retinol: The 411 on retinol and the products to try

The biggest craze right now in the skincare world? Definitely retinol.

When I first saw retinol starting to pop up in my skincare products I was super intrigued by what it actually did and how to properly use it. Unlike my other products, when it comes to retinol, you actually should start incorporating it into your routine slowly and then build it up as your skin becomes more tolerable to it.

So what is it?

Retinol is a type of Vitamin A, which helps to promote skin renewal and enhances collagen production.  It’s a chemical that helps to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and can also help to reverse some of the side effects of sun damage.  Although you can start using retinol is your 20s, it’s more for people in their 30s since that’s when your skin starts to lose collagen.

Retinol products from Skinceuticals and Drunk Elephant

When first starting to use retinol products, you want to start adding it into your routine gradually, so once or twice a week. This is because when you add too much of it it can cause some irritation because of the overwhelming amount of Vitamin A that’s being added to your skin.  As your skin becomes used to it, you can start to build up to every other day, and then every night.

Most retinol products are available as a serum or cream, and a little goes a long way. You only need a tiny amount to apply to your face (typically after your cleanser). Once you apply it, make sure to use a hydrating moisturizer since it can tend to dry out your skin, and then the next morning you should apply sunscreen to your face since retinol makes your skin more prone to sun damage.

Since retinol is so popular right now, you have probably seen various products boasting different percentages of it.  As a rule of thumb, if you have sensitive skin, you should start with a low percentage, so something along the lines of 0.0X%. If you have normal or combination skin, then 0.25% would work for you.  As you build up your skin’s tolerance, then you can start to up the percentage but definitely make sure to go slow when first using it and keep an eye out on how your skin looks and feels the next day after your apply it.

So what products do I recommend for getting your retinol fix?  There are sooo many to choose from right now since skincare brands are seeing the benefits of adding retinol to their lines.  Here are some of my top picks for including this important chemical into your routine.

Skinceuticals retinol line

Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3

Perfect for first-time retinol users, Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 (C$70) is a potent treatment that you add into your nighttime routine. It features 0.3% pure retinol and is formulated to minimize irritation and help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, discolouration, blemishes, and pores by making cellular turnover happen faster.

The brand also has a Retinol 0.5 version, but they recommend giving this one a try first if you are new to the whole retinol thing to build up your skin’s tolerance. The formula is also designed to minimize the irritation that is commonly associated with the use of retinol creams.

When I apply this, I first use my cleanser and toner, but put a small amount of this stuff all over my face (avoiding the eye area of course). After applying this, Skinceuticals recommends pairing it with their Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 (C$150), which is a thick moisturizer aimed at reversing the signs of aging. This moisturizer is formulated with a maximized concentration of lipids, 2% pure ceramics, 4% natural cholesterol, and 2% fatty acids. The combination of the three lipids helps to restore the skin’s external barrier and support natural self repair, while also nourishing it and giving you visible smoothness, minimize large pores, and more radiance.

For the next morning, make sure to apply something with an SPF in it. I’ve loved their Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 (C$46) for years now and it’s the perfect facial sunscreen to wear on a daily basis.

Shake the container up and apply a small amount to your face to help protect it against the sun’s harmful rays. The formula contains 100% physical filters Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide and is enhanced with Artemia Salina and plankton extract to help boost the skin’s natural defence to UV rays.  Although it’s great to wear alone, since it’s sheer and weightless, I actually love using it as a foundation primer.

With summer coming up, I highly recommend picking up this product, regardless of whether you are grabbing the retinol as well.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Creme

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

One of my new favourite skincare lines in the past year has definitely been Drunk Elephant and when they released a retinol cream, it was actually them that first opened my eyes to what retinol is, what it does, and why I need it (because I need everything Drunk Elephant makes).

A-Passioni Retinol Cream (C$92) is a retinol cream that improves the look and feel of uneven skin tone and texture and addresses damage from daily exposure to UV rays, environmental pollution, and other free radicals.

This one is actually 1.0%, making it a higher percentage of retinol, meaning that it’s very important to go slow when applying this. I would definitely start with at least once or twice a week and then slowly build it up. This particular formula is actually vegan since it’s a clean beauty brand, meaning that it also contains superfood-rich ingredients. It also contains a triple peptide blend to visibly firm and strengthen skin, and Vitamin F to improve the appearance of texture and suppleness and calm signs of sensitivity.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regime

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regime

This one is a three-step process which includes a retinol oil in it.  Brand-new for spring, the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair regime includes the Prep Cleanser, the Retinol Oil, and Regenerating Cream.

The Prep Cleanser (C$9.97) is a rich cream cleanser that includes micro-exfoliants and glycolic acid to visibly improve skin’s texture in a week.  In addition to removing dirt, oil, and other impurities, the micro beads in the formula help slough away dead skin cells, allowing the next two products in the line to fully absorb into the skin.

Once your face is washed and dried, the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil (C$29.97) is a concentrated treatment that intensely nourish skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for visible results after a week.  A little goes a long way, so use the dropper to give you a few drops of this stuff, which is also lightweight and will absorb quickly into the skin.

Finally, the last step in this regime is the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream (C$29.97), which is a rich emollient cream that reduces the look of wrinkles up to five-times more than other anti-aging products. Neutrogena actually says that 100 per cent of women that they had test it saw noticeable results in just one week.

This cream is very rich and moisturizing and feels amazing on the skin.  It quickly absorbs, leaving you with a smooth-looking complexion.

Rodan + Fields Wake Up Fabulous skincare gift set

Rodan + Fields Wake Up Fabulous Gift Set

This ultra-cute set from mega skincare brand Rodan + Fields includes their REDEFINE Intensive Renewing Serum (60 capsules), REDEFINE Multi-Function Eye Cream, and an ultra-cute eye mask.

The Intensive Renewing Serum comes in the form of little capsules that give you the perfect amount of serum for your face. This product, along with the eye cream is designed to work while you sleep.  The serum contains Retinal-MD Technology, which is more potent than retinol and gentler on the skin. R+F also says that retinal is as close as you can get to prescription-strength Vitamin A.

As for the Multi-Function Eye Cream, this contains powerful peptides which visibly smooth and firm the delicate underage area for a more youthful-looking appearance.  Note, this eye cream does not contain retinol or retinal, but this gift set is so cute that I had to include it in here.  You can purchase this from your Rodan + Fields consultant for C$194.

Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads

Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads

Okay so this last one isn’t technically retinol, but it is a natural alternative for those who have sensitive skin and may not be able to use retinol.

These facial pads contain bakuchiol, which is a naturally occurring antioxidant derived from the seeds of the batch plant, a plant native to India and traditionally used in Chinese medicine. Bakuchiol doesn’t fully function the same as retinol, but it’s pretty close, making it the perfect alternative for those who want to try retinol but can’t.  It’s also recommended for those who have oil or acne-prone skin since it’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and clinically proven to fight acne.

The Indeed Labratories Bakuchiol Reface Pads (C$17.99) contain 30 pads and are designed to be used morning and night. I have been using these to see how they react with my skin and so far so good. Instead of a toner, I just use these and they are quite gentle on the skin.  I like how there is an alternative to retinol in case you are skeptical on using it or unsure if it would work for you. I think these are a great stepping stone into the world of retinol, especially if you don’t have sensitive skin.

When it comes to retinol, there are so many options to choose from. From high and low price points, different percentages, and even different alternatives, there is definitely the perfect product out there for you.

Have you tried retinol before? How has it affected your skin?

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