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What Does Retinol Do? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.

What Does Retinol Do? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.


You may have heard of retinol, as dermatologists and skin professionals often prescribe it to help people fight wrinkles and even age spots. Sound great, right? However, what does it do? The XO Mom has you covered: here’s everything you need to know about retinol.

How exactly does Retinol work?

Retinol is the over-the-counter version of retinoid. Retinoids work by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath. They help prevent the breakdown of collagen and thicken the thicker layer of skin where wrinkles get their start. For brown spots that give the surface an uneven tone, retinoids slough them off and curb the production of melanin, a darker pigment.

Types of Retinoids/Retinol–Prescription and Non-prescription:

For aging skin, dermatologists typically prescribe tretinoin and retinoic acid that is significantly more potent as the retinol-containing products sold without a prescription. Retinol, found in over-the-counter products, changes to retinoic acid when you put it on your skin. Makers of the over-the-counter creams and gels don’t have to say how much retinol their products contain, and in the short term, the products might not be as effective as tretinoin. However, they can still smooth out the skin and minimize the effects of sun damage. Generally, it takes about 3 to 6 months of daily use to notice a difference. With prescription retinoids, a patient might see smoother, more even-toned skin in as early as 6 to 8 weeks. Retinaldehyde, another form of retinoid that you can get without a prescription, is highly effective in rejuvenating older skin.

How Do You Use Retinol?

You only need a pea-sized amount each day of prescription retinoids or non-prescription retinol-based products, because more than that could irritate the skin.

If you’re using prescription tretinoin, use it exactly as your doctor prescribed. Ask your doctor if you should avoid using other medications on your skin at the same time. Avoid sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and cover exposed skin with protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, when you’re outside. Clean and dry your skin before applying the retinoid. Please don’t use it with other skin care products made with benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid. The combination can cause severe skin irritation.

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Side Effects

Like most products, unfortunately, retinol can have some less-than-comfortable side effects. The most common side effects of using tretinoin include burning, warmth, stinging, tingling, itching redness, swelling, dryness, peeling, irritation, and discoloration of the skin. Rarer side effects include hives, swelling, and breathing difficulty.

Before using any skin product, be sure to consult your doctor to make sure you are making the best decision for your skin. Every person’s skin is different, so you may experience side effects while other people may not. Bear that in mind when deciding whether to use retinol or not.

Source: Web MD

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