Have you met my friend, Retinol?

If not, let me introduce you:

On the quest for youth you will meet foes and allies alike, and Retinol is perhaps the greatest ally you’ll ever make. At the risk of sounding slightly like an addict, I was first presented to Retinol 2 years and 3 bottles ago. At first it was the 0.5% from Sesderma, the relationship evolved into skinceutical’s 1.0% Retinol, and we are now best friends at 1.10%, through Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex ES 28.3g/1oz.

Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex ES 28.3g/1oz Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex ES 28.3g/1ozAn ultra-powerful anti-aging treatment Formulated with three forms of vitamin A highly concentrated with retinoids Developed with patented Microsponge® delivery system to offer gradual release over time to reduce irritation Accelerates collagen production to eliminate appearance of fine lines & wrinkles Promotes cell regeneration & cellular turnover to boost skin’s tone & texture Minimizes appearance of age spots Unveils firmer more flexible & younger looking skin

Retinol is a less potent variation of Retinoid, which you can only get per prescription from your dermatologist. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that unclog pores, boost collagen to reduce fine lines, and speed cell turnover to even out discoloration and smooth the skin—sometimes in as little as four weeks. The first retinoid—tretinoin—was FDA approved (under the brand name Retin-A) almost 40 years ago as a prescription acne treatment.

Dermatologists soon noticed that patients on Retin-A experienced not just clearer but softer, brighter, less-lined skin. And since then the rest is history. Retinol, which is found in a number of over the counter preparations, are slowly converted to retinoic acid (the active ingredient in prescription creams) and so  results will take aprox. 12 weeks before they become evident.

Retinol is a major antiager, and being me, early investment in this powerful keep- all –things- age-related-at bay-weapon, was a no brainer. I have tried 3 different creams from 3 different companies and the one I’m using now Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex is by far my favorite.

First things first! Lets understand what all the fuss is about.

Aging is characterized by 9 different attributes:


2.Development of skin lesions, such as actinic keratosis

3.Slacking, due to loss of eleastic fibers

4.Skin thinning, due to thinning of the epidermis (the uppermost layer of the skin)

5.Skin Fragility, due to flattening of the area where the epidermis and the dermis (lower layer of skin) meet.

6.Bruising, due to lack of support around blood-vessel walls

7.Age spots, or hyperpigmentation- brought about by UV radiation

8.Wrinkling- lines formed as elasticity decreases, leaving tracks of facial movement behind.

9.Hollowing of the face, due to loss of fat beneath the skin, most often seen underneath the eyes as hollows or groves may be formed there.

Simply put, Retinoids and Retinols (to a lesser degree) have been attributed to 3 of the above mentioned aspects of skin aging. They are as given by : Jacquelyn Levin, DO and Saira B. Momin, DO :

1.Hyperpigmentation. Retinoic acid is thought to reduce mottled hyperpigmentation by enhancing epidermal cell turnover. Enhancing epidermal cell turnover decreases the contact time between keratinocytes (skin cells) and melanocytes (pigment producing cells) and promotes a rapid loss of pigment.

2.Fine lines and wrinkles. Retinoic acid therapy reduces fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the capacity of the epidermis to hold water through stimulation of glycosaminoglycan (GAG- a large water binding molecule in the skin) synthesis and by stimulating collagen synthesis through increases in transforming growth factor (TGF-beta) and procollagen.

Furthermore, it is believed that RA may also retard or prevent further dermal matrix degradation by inhibiting the enzymes that break down collagen and preventing oxidative stress, as well as an 80 percent increase in collagen I formation when photodamaged skin was treated with Retinoic acid. (Christopher Griffiths et al.)

The over the counter Retinol containing antiwrinkle effect has recently been documented in a study by REB Watson et al. , in which fibrillin-1 ( a component of  the elastic fibers of the skin) was significantly upregulated after long-term use. Also, numbers of fibroblasts and increased collagen production was observed in a recent study, following a 7day course of a topical retinol product.

3.Roughness. Retinoic acid therapy reduces skin roughness by modulating the expression of genes involved in cellular differentiation and proliferation, hence promoting epidermal cell turnover.

The effects are believed to be mediated through binding to retinoic acid receptors (RAR) and subsequent binding of these complexes to specific genes affecting gene transcription.

In addition to its anitaging properties, retinoic acid has been shown to be effective in the treatment of acne, which was the reason for its first use on the skin. In addition to diminishing sebum (oil produced by skin) output, retinoic acid may reduce the number of open and closed comedones (black heads and white heads), which makes it a nice addition to any skin care regiment of people suffering form acne.

The adverse effects that have been reported are skin flaking, and irritation; also I would recommend staying away from vitamin A derivates while pregnant. I just know if it was me, I would rather be safe than sorry, as some studies have shown that high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child. And oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (Accutane, an acne treatment), are known to cause birth defects.

Precautions of  sunlight exposure are also recommended, as retinols may induce photosensitivity, although some dermatologists argue it is only the compound itself that is sun sensitive, hence application should be done at nighttime.

Recommended use of retinol/retinoid containing products as found on SkinMedica’s home page, are:

“If a retinol product has never been used before, begin by limiting use to twice a week, two to three days apart, gradually increasing frequency to every other night. After one to two weeks, advance to each evening or as tolerated. Mild redness, peeling and irritation are expected when using this product. Daily sun protection with SPF 20 or higher is highly recommended during use of this product. As with any skin care product, avoid getting in eyes. If contact occurs, rinse eyes thoroughly with water.”

And might I add;

- Always start with the lowest concentration possible, if your new to retinol, try Skin Ceuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream 30ml/1oz

Skin Ceuticals Retinol 0.5  Refining Night Cream 30ml/1oz Skin Ceuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream 30ml/1ozContains 0.5% pure retinol & advanced delivery technology Stimulates cell regeneration & collagen production Eliminates appearance of fine lines wrinkles & age spots Visibly reduces pore size & repair blemishes blotchiness No clogging of pores & diminishes need of extra moisturizer Leaves skin velvety smooth & youthful Ideal for more sensitive skin Not suitable for pregnat women

 -Never apply it at the same time you also have products on your skin that contain glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide .

- Always apply it to your skin at bedtime; never use it during the day.

-Always use a an SPF of 30 or above. Try Skin Ceuticals Sport UV Defense SPF 45 90ml/3oz

(All products pictured in this post are from strawberrynet, and come with FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY!!!)  :)

Hope you feel enlightened and ready for your Retinol experience, dearest ROKers, it most certainly is a beauty ingredient which will make tremendous differences to our skin as time goes by.

Lots of Love,



 Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety

Siddharth Mukherjee,1 Abhijit Date,2 Vandana Patravale,3 Hans Christian Korting,4 Alexander Roeder,4 and Günther Weindl5

Dermatoendocrinol. 2011 Jul-Sep; 3(3): 136–140.

Published online 2011 July 1. doi:  10.4161/derm.3.3.15026

PMCID: PMC3219164

How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?

Jacquelyn Levin, DO and Saira B. Momin, DO

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 February; 3(2): 22–41.

PMCID: PMC2921764

A cosmetic ‘anti-ageing’ product improves photoaged skin: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial

REB Watson, S Ogden, LF Cotterell, JJ Bowden, JY Bastrilles, SP Long,* and CEM Griffiths

Br J Dermatol. 2009 August; 161(2): 419–426.

doi:  10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09216.x

PMCID: PMC2774146

 Vitamin A Antagonizes Decreased Cell Growth and Elevated Collagen-Degrading Matrix Metalloproteinases and Stimulates Collagen Accumulation in Naturally Aged Human Skin1

James Varani, Roscoe L Warner, Mehrnaz Gharaee-Kermani, Sem H Phan, Sewon Kang*, JinHo Chung*, ZengQuan Wang*, Subhash C Datta*, Gary J Fisher* and John J Voorhees*

Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2000) 114, 480–486; doi:10.1046/j.1523-1747.2000.00902.x

Regulation of keratin expression by retinoids

Hans Törmä

West J Med. 1988 December; 149(6): 766–767.

PMCID: PMC102663

Topical retinoic acid, aging, and the skin.

P M Elias

Restoration of Collagen Formation in Photodamaged Human Skin by Tretinoin (Retinoic Acid)

Christopher Griffiths, Andrew N. Russman, Gopa Majmudar, Robert S. Singer, Ted A. Hamilton, and John J. Voorhees

N Engl J Med 1993; 329:530-535August 19, 1993