Monday, April 9, 2012

What the heck is....retinol?

 Cosmetic and Skin Care Ingredients De-Mystified...

I'm King Leo & you're Xerxes, skin! HI-YAH!

What the heck is retinol and why should you care?

I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror and wanted to kick my own face's butt. I see hyperpigmentation from my last pregnancy, sun exposure and a couple areas that could use big time purification. I won't say they're pimples yet...but soon. All you face issues need to be dumped into a deep hole, never to return. But how will I ever accomplish this?

With retinol, of course. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. You can find it called Retinol, Retin-A or Tretinoin (the generic name). It usually comes in a gel or cream form and was originally made for acne problems. It is also being realized for cosmetic uses. Its anti-aging, hyperpigmentation eliminating and wrinkle zapping properties make it an ideal choice for most skin concerns. That's why a lot of insurances won't cover it anymore because need is becoming a want and doctors are writing a lot more prescriptions for it. For me personally, I have to show medical necessity since I'm over 25 in order to get it covered. Technically, my doctor says I have cystic acne. While I use it mainly for the cosmetic uses, my insurance doesn't need to know that. I know... I'm a rebel without a cause. Depending on your age, a skin cell will regenerate itself anywhere from 14-30 days on average. Retinols work by actually speeding up the skin's cell renewal process, making skin cell regeneration work on hyper-drive. So, exactly how fast you ask? For that answer ask someone who is a chemist for Retin-A. I've not been able to track one down. But much, much faster for sure.

Here's an example. You pick your face, which is a HUGE no no and damage that skin cell sitting on the top of your epidermis (skin). Arrgh. It'll scar or discolor, becoming hyper pigmented and then you twiddle your thumbs until it heals. Not so fast. Use a retinol.

Retinols can be considered a chemical exfoliator because they slough off all that crap, err cellular debris, leaving the new skin layer looking as soft and undiscolored as a baby's butt. Then, with time the picking, sun exposure and air pollutants magically happen. Waa. Waaa. Waaaa.

Retin-A-Micro, which is my fave- is the newest out. The Retin-A comes micro-encapsulated making it smaller (for better absorption) and time released.

Other notables are below:

Philosophy's "Help Me", $49
Shop Ulta here.

ZO Skin Health's  1% "Ossential Night Repair", $170
Shop it here.

Philosophy's Help Me gets notable mention for the price point & it contains Vitamin E. ZO Skin Health by Zein Obagi, MD is the strongest on the market without it being a prescription. He's a doctor so he knows exactly what percentages of retinol can fly by the FDA. Both are available at Nordstrom.

Back to point- use retinols at night right after washing your face in warm water (warm to open your pores for better absorption). Towel and/or air dry, then apply all over your face, minus your eyelids and lips. If you'd like to prevent or lessen crows feet, apply carefully under the eye. I personally never put a moisturizer on over it. I don't want to decrease the effectiveness, plus you never know what interaction your skin could have from applying both. You should start out by trying only a few times a week and then work your way up to tolerating it. I've heard that some people use it daily. I use it every other day. Also, if you're trying to save a buck or two just don't use it in the summertime. It's pointless.

Skin burns more easily when on this medication (like the baby's butt we spoke of earlier) and the sun will create blemishes and discoloration. The next day following treatment, wake up and wash your face as usual and apply a moisturizer with sun screen. I almost forgot that when you're on retinols, anything you put on your face will work more effectively (say your day cream) because there is less layers of dermis for the product to go through. Awesome, right?! I know.

Twinmedix Pro:Essentials A15, $90
Shop OSMUA here.

You'll also find a lot of dryness, which is temporary and will go away, in the beginning. Because you're chemically exfoliating your face, don't go crazy with physically exfoliating the dryness off. Simply use a wet wash cloth to exfoliate vs. a scrub. You could use a scrub, but I find I love the feeling so much I overdo it and press too hard. Oh! I almost forgot- I love instant gratification. But be patient. Before you stop using it, take a before pic & about 8 weeks later take an after pic. You're sure to see a difference.

DERMAdoctor 1% Retinol, $75
Shop it here.

Below are some before and after pics I found (time lapse unknown). Take a gander.

Knowledge is power. This is SPAAAARTAAA...

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