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Are you shopping for retinol creams? Here is what you need to know about selecting and using retinol creams for the best results for your skin needs.
With so many choices, how do you know which is the best retinol cream for your needs? We're not talking about prescription retinols but over-the-counter retinol creams or serums.
Skin care ads are confusing and often times, misleading. Without knowledge, you might wind up paying a lot for a retinol cream that does not contain enough active ingredient (retinol) for optimal results. Or you may buy a cream that's too strong for your skin type.
Retinol is one of the best anti-aging, anti-wrinkle ingredient available without a prescription. And, if you're over 40, you should consider adding it to your anti-aging skin care regimen.
While there are a lot retinol creams to choose from, I was surprised to see how little retinol many of them actually contained.
A lot of inexpensive drugstore brand retinol creams contain a very small amount of retinol (used as "window dressing") but not enough to be an effective anti-aging cream.
Well, there is no magic number – but researchers at Johnson & Johnson found that women who used a 0.1% retinol cream had significant improvement (fewer wrinkles and age spots) in 6-12 months.
However, a study in the JAMA of Dermatology found that 0.4% retinol offered significant improvements in aged skin (fewer wrinkles, age spots, and increased moisture retention) in just 6 months.
If the label does not list the percentage, then it might not contain enough to really produce dramatic results in a reasonable amount of time.
When it comes to selecting the best retinol cream - check the ingredients.
And, keep mind, that although an over-the-counter retinol cream is not as strong as it's prescription cousin; non-prescription retinol creams can initially irritate those with sensitive skin.
This is usually temporary happens during the initial “break-in” period.
So it’s important to find one that’s strong enough to get the job done, yet gentle to the skin.
This will amount vary from person to person depending on their skin sensitivity and level of aging/damage.
Here are a few things to consider before starting a retinol treatment:
Tip: Those with sensitive skin should always look for retinol products that contain added irritant buffers like: Natural organic aloe, organic jojoba oil, organic green tea or botanical hyaluronic acids to help sooth, hydrate and reduce the change of irritation.
As you probably know - OTC retinol creams are one of the best anti-aging beauty treatments available without a prescription!
And most dermatologists agree. "Retinol is a tried and true ingredient that really works," says Dr. Jaliman, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
So what’s the problem?
Results are slow, be patient. It takes several months before you see results; so, it's important to stick with it.
Also, some people find it difficult to use a potent retinol cream long enough to see results due to side effects like flaking, redness, and irritation. Many people give up after a few weeks, just short of the break-in period.
You see it’s a catch-22. You need a retinol cream that’s strong enough to be effective, yet the strong ones often irritated even the toughest of complexions.
At least that’s been my experience…
Right now I use a 2.5% retinol cream and a few times a year I have started to layer this cream on top of a retinol serum for extra anti-aging effects.
I like the idea of using a series of face creams with different retinol strengths, so I could slowly and comfortably progress to the next stronger level as my skin adjusted.
This – in my opinion - would be the best way to easy into retinol treatments.
What Can You Do?
Treat your skin with extra care during the first few weeks/months of starting a retinol treatment. Start slow, make sure to use a sunscreen every day and treat your skin gently.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and a cousin to the prescription cream known as retinoic acid (Retin-A). Once applied to the skin it converts to retinoic acid – which is the heavy duty anti-aging strong horse.
However, keep in mind that not all retinols are the same. It’s important to use a high potent, high quality stable product. If not produced and packaged correctly – retinols can become unstable, and this could interfere with the ability to convert properly.
That’s why buying a quality retinol is important. See more information about OTC Retinol Skincare products and what to look for in a retinol cream.
While not as strong as retinoic acid, retinols are very effective at gently exfoliate dead skin cells (increasing cell turnover) which in turn can help stimulate collagen production.
But for many people this sudden increase in cell turnover can sometimes cause mild side effects – especially if the cream contains a high percentage of retinol.
That’s why it helps to reduce the level/strength of retinol used or reduce the frequency of use in the first few weeks starting a retinol treatment.
And this is also why you might need to try a product or two (in different strengths) to find the best retinol cream for your complexion type and need.
One important warning if you plan on using retinol creams. Only apply it at night. And always use a sunscreen even during the winter.
Wait, before you go...
How do you know which over-the-counter retinol creams are worth buying? How do you know you're getting the best for your money at the strength you need? We'll break it down to a few simple tips, click here...
Arch Dermatol. 2007;143(5):606-612. doi:10.1001/archderm.143.5.606
Johnson & Johnson Double Clinical Trial. Retrieved from https://www.doctoroz.com/article/retinol-results
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