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Araceli Nicholas

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The retinol It is the cosmetic active with the largest number of scientific studies that support its effectiveness in the treatment of skin aging. It is not surprising that it has become, along with vitamin C, the most sought after ingredient. Pharmacists and dermatologists advise including it in any beauty routine, except during pregnancy. “Retinol is one of the most complete skincare ingredients from the adolescence, Yes there are acne or blemishes, and in all anti-aging routines in adulthood, except during pregnancy. In pregnancy and lactation, topical retinoids are not recommended due to theoretical risk, since it is known that, administered systemically, they cause teratogenicity and toxicity in the embryo.

This has not been shown to occur topically, but it seems prudent to avoid its use during this period,” explains the pharmaceuticalGem Smithies, expert in dermopharmacy and founder of the cosmetic brand gh.

All the benefits of retinol

Retinol is the most powerful active ingredient for delaying and improving the signs of skin aging, both those that can be seen, wrinkles, and those that cannot be seen, collagen degradation. According to Dr. Paloma Cornejo, aesthetic dermatologist and director of the clinic that bears her name, «the advantages of retinol are dermal and epidermal and we can summarize them as: it increases the production of collagen, improving the skin firmness and elasticity, and minimizing expression lines. It also increases cell turnover and regulates the keratinization process, improving skin texture and preventing comedones that start the acne process. Finally, it reduces hyperpigmentation, improving and homogenizing skin tone, being used in synergy with depigmenting agents in melasma and lentigines».

In addition, the pharmaceutical Gema Herrerías adds that retinol «helps in the rosaceafor its anti-inflammatory properties. And it has, on the other hand, an antioxidant function».

From left to right: Endocare Renewal Retinol Serum from Cantabria Labs (€45);  Gh 0.3 Retinol-NP Serum bi-gel from Gema Herrerías (€36.90);  Retinol B3 Serum from La Roche Posay (€30).
From left to right: Endocare Renewal Retinol Serum from Cantabria Labs (€45); Gh 0.3 Retinol-NP Serum bi-gel from Gema Herrerías (€36.90); Retinol B3 Serum from La Roche Posay (€30). – DR

How to include it in the beauty routine if it has never been used

Retinol is an excellent active ingredient, but you have to use it correctly to see its benefits. One of its main problems is that it usually causes irritation on the skin, which generates doubts, insecurities in its use and many dropouts. That is why it is essential, first of all, to choose a good product. To do this you have to look at the label, which is known as INCI, and check that the cosmetic includes retinol. There are other derivatives like retinol palmitato or the retinaldehyde which are less effective, but can be useful for very sensitive skin.

Second, Dr. Paloma Cornejo advises “assuming that the initial redness, itching and scaling are part of the process, not an adverse effect». It is normal for retinol to cause burning, redness, irritation, dryness and even pimples during the first few days. To make this process (known as retinización), Gema Herrerías recommends «starting treatment with retinoids at the night, at the lowest concentrations, applying small amount of product and with less frequency and gradually increase the concentration when they are already tolerated on a daily basis». You can start using it a couple of times a week, then go up to alternate days, according to the tolerance of the skin, and after a few weeks, if the skin is fine, use it daily. If there is irritation, it can be used only 2-3 times a week.

From left to right: Absolut Retinol.3 from 5pt5 (€40);  Power Retinol Intensive Repair Cream from Skeyndor (€55);  Kiehl's Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum (€75).
From left to right: Absolut Retinol.3 from 5pt5 (€40); Power Retinol Intensive Repair Cream from Skeyndor (€55); Kiehl’s Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum (€75). – DR

On the other hand, Dr. Paloma Cornejo comments that “a cream that reinforces the skin barrier It helps a lot to alleviate the effects of retinol. And of course retinol must not be mixed with other irritating active ingredients as a glycolic acid without consulting.

Although retinol can also be used during the day, at low concentrations, and, of course, always with Solar protectionIn general, experts advise using it at night. “It is more effective to use antioxidants, such as vitamin C or vitamin E, in the morning, and at night apply retinol at a higher concentration,” says the pharmacist Gema Herrerías.

Retinol: also for sensitive skin

One of the most widespread myths about retinol is that it is not an active ingredient suitable for sensitive skin. But it is not true. Sensitive skin can also benefit from this active ingredient. In fact, there are products formulated to guarantee their tolerance in these skins. Leonor Prieto, scientific director of La Roche-Posay, recommends “choosing products that combine various forms of retinol, so that it is released in different phases and is better tolerated. To adapt it to the most sensitive skin, it is also associated with moisturizing or soothing activessuch as glycerin or niacinamida».

From left to right: RetinOil by Sarah Becquer (€105);  Bonaloa Skincare Retinol Cream (€46.95);  SkinClinic One Million Pure Retinol (€69);  Pure and microencapsulated Retinol Concentrate Shot from SkinLabo (€14).
From left to right: RetinOil by Sarah Becquer (€105); Bonaloa Skincare Retinol Cream (€46.95); SkinClinic One Million Pure Retinol (€69); Pure and microencapsulated Retinol Concentrate Shot from SkinLabo (€14). – DR

If, for some reason, the skin cannot assimilate retinol, other cosmetic active ingredients can be used. Gema Herrerías bets on «the azelaic acid, glycolic acid, he acid salicylic, tranexamic acid, niacinamide, Asiatic spark, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants such as vitamin C or E, peptides or growth factors.

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