What Is Retinol And How Should I Use It? | Dear Derm | Well+Good

What Is Retinol And How Should I Use It? | Dear Derm | Well+Good


(upbeat music) – Hi, I’m Dr. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist in New Haven, Connecticut and I’m here to answer your most pressing skin care questions. So send ’em my way. (upbeat music) Your friends are
definitely onto something. Retinol is the most studied
skin care ingredient that exists and it’s recommended by dermatologists pretty much every single day of the week no matter your age, your skin type or the concern you’re facing. There’s a pretty good chance that it can be helpful in some sorta way when it’s incorporated into
your skin care routine. Retinoids are vitamin A
derivatives that have a reputation for doing some amazing things for our skin including speeding up cell
turnover to help with acne, stimulating collagen production
and evening out skin tone. If you asked 100 dermatologists what is the one thing
that they all agreed on besides sunscreen of course, it would be that everyone
should be using a retinol if their skin can handle it. I recommend retinol to my
patients who are 15 or 55. There are plenty of
different forms of this stuff ranging from mild or
over-the-counter options such as retinaldehyde,
retinyl esters and retinol all the way up to prescription
strength Tretinoin, Adapalene, Tazarotene, ready for this one? Trifarotene. So you’re not wrong to be confused because there’s a lot to know about which one is really
right for your skin. Let’s start here. The active form of
vitamin A is retinoic acid which also goes by tretinoin. Most retinoids that are
prescribed by dermatologists are different forms of tretinoin. Outside of the dermatologist’s office, plenty of skin care products now label themselves as retinol products but this usually means that they have one of the
three ingredients in them. The firsts are retinyl esters which are the most
stable form of vitamin A but also the weakest. When they’re applied to the skin, they have to go through
two forms of conversion to become retinoic acid or that active ingredient
we just talked about. Retinol, similarly, has to
be converted within the skin but only once while retinaldehyde
is directly converted to retinoic acid within the skin. Outside of the dermatologist’s office, you can still get a retinol product but they have to go through a
conversion process in the skin to become the active ingredient so they’re not quite as strong. By and large, the more
active an ingredient is, the more results you’ll see by incorporating it into your regimen. In the case of retinoids, not everyone can handle the
most active forms of vitamin A because while they do a whole host of great things for the skin, they can also result in
dryness and sensitivity. Talk to your derm to see
which kind of retinoid is right for you so that you can get the
best results possible for your skin type. Look at you, beauty geek. Yes, there definitely are. People who have rosacea
actually can still use retinol. I just recommend the retinaldehyde version and there’s a great brand called Avene that has a wonderful retinaldehyde great for patients with rosacea. If your skin is too sensitive and you really feel like a little bit shy of using a retinol, there’s a new plant-based derivative which I’m sure you’ve heard
tons about called Bakuchiol and it’s derived from a
beautiful purple plant in India and there’s been studies that show that Bakuchiol can produce just
as much collagen as retinol. So I think it’s a good
alternative to consider if your skin seems a
little bit too sensitive. The texture of the retinol
that you’re using counts a lot. If your skin is oily, go
for a gel-based retinol. If you tend to need more
moisture or be more sensitive, opt for a cream or lotion which can help offset some
of the effects of retinoids. Vitamin A can make you
more sensitive to the sun so while we’ve already talked about how you need to wear sunscreen
all the time every day never an exception, that goes double if you’re introducing a
retinol into your regimen. If you wax your eyebrows
or wax your upper lip or wax your face, you should discontinue your
retinol a good week before because it can literally rip off your skin because your skin is exfoliating and it’s doing exactly
what it should be doing and it’s increasing cell turnover but you don’t need that disaster like the day before an important event. If you start peeling or
feel a little too sensitive, don’t write off retinol just yet. There’s an adjustment period wherein the skin needs to get used to the new love you’re showing it. Instead, scale back your use
to a couple times a week. I always tell my patients to start with just a pea size amount like a green pea that
you would eat for dinner, put it on the tip of your
finger and divide it equally amongst the four quadrants of your face. So it’s a quarter of a
pea all over your face, not four peas. That’s a huge, big error. Just a quarter of a pea
and then work up gradually. The key is to work up gradually. So you just do it one
time a week for one week then two times a week for two weeks then three times a week for three weeks and you’ll see where your tipping point is because if you’re using
too much or too frequently, your skin can become dry
and irritated and flaky and that’s called retinol dermatitis and that means it’s a little bit too much. I would not apply it
during the day and it’s, yes, the sun sensitivity is an issue but the reason is that
actually ultraviolet rays make it unstable and less effective. So it’s just not even as effective if you apply it during the day. So that’s why I always reserve
it for my nighttime routine. So this is how I remember it. Retinol, R, right before bed. I know that’s cheesy but
what are you gonna do? You have to remember it somehow. So I tell my patients, here is the triumvirate of
how to use your retinol. Wash, wash with a gentle
cleanser that’s not exfoliating. Just a gentle non-soap cleanser. Part two, apply the pea
size amount of your retinol over your entire face. Part three, moisturize. So it’s wash, medicate, moisturize and then the other
question I get asked a lot is when do you know it’s working or how long will it
take to see its effects and the general rule is
about four to six weeks where we can see microscopically that there’s collagen production,
more collagen production and less collagen breakdown
in about four to six weeks but one important consideration, if you’re pregnant or nursing, be aware, you should not be
using retinol in your routine and that’s hard because during pregnancy there’s a lot of changes in our skin and we wanna make ourselves
look and feel great but it is certainly
contraindicated in pregnancy. Do not use retinols
and alpha hydroxy acids in the same sitting. I would in fact say that
you should separate them a couple days apart. So make sure that you
separate it from that. I also think it’s important
to separate retinols from your vitamin C. So we had a great episode
on vitamin C earlier which you should tune
in and check that out. I recommend to my patients
using vitamin C in the morning and their retinol at night because vitamin C and
retinol don’t play too well in the sandbox together. So you should separate those as well. Some of you may have
heard this 15 minute rule where you’re supposed to wait 15 minutes after washing your face and
before applying your retinol. If you have that time,
by all means go for it. I personally, I’m a busy working
mom, I don’t have that time and I apply it right away. So I think as long as you
apply the right amount over the right time interval, you’re getting the most bang for your buck and you’re doing a great job. This is the one that I use. It’s a brand called PCA and
you just unscrew the top and you literally, that’s how much I use over my entire face. It’s just a small, small bit and just divide it up amongst
the quadrants of my face. Oh, a little tip I just remembered. I also like to use retinol
on the back of my hands because I live in
suburbia and I drive a lot and so I get a lot of sun
damage on the back of my hands so using the retinol
on the back of my hands and my neck actually which is considered the same cosmetic unit as your face. So I slather it on both my
hands and my neck as well and then I think also SkinMedica, always going back to
SkinMedica, it’s great. It’s cosmetically elegant
and a wonderful choice for somebody who’s starting off and first introducing retinols
into their skin care routine. The most effective over-the-counter
vitamin A derivative I would say is Adapalene or
the name brand is Differin and you can literally
go to any drug store, CVS, Walgreens, Duane
Reade and get Differin. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. If my house was on fire,
I would grab my husband, my kids, my dog and my retinol
before I ran out of the house ’cause it is definitely the
best skin care ingredient that has the most science behind it. Thanks so much for watching Dear Derm. Got more questions? Comment below and be sure to subscribe
to Well+Good right now.

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