What is retinol exactly? Why is it so important?

OK, so this post may get a bit “science-y” for some, but bear with us – the information is great. In a nutshell, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A – which a massive number of cosmetic products utilize in their products…some better than others.

How does retinol work?

Medik8 Retinol - Vitamin A serumsRetinol is an active ingredient ideally suited for premium skin care products. Retinol is proven to improve hyper-pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, skin tone/color, and the skin’s hydration levels. Retinol exfoliates the skin – which helps stimulate the production of collagen.

The beneficial effects of retinol on the skin depend on its concentration and formulation. All retinoids have a certain degree of oxygen and light stability issues, so a proper formulation is vital to deliver a great product.

Two key challenges of retinol are sensitivity and stability. Ideally, you should select a fresh product (less than 12 months old) that has been stored in cool conditions and a low oxygen environment. The primary packaging should be high quality & exhibit natural UV filtration properties – such as brown glass or aluminum tubes. The outside packaging should completely block light before the product is put to use.

Medik8’s retinol products meet all the challenges outlined above and then some. Our retinol products are all formulated with non irritating oils and then protected with molecular film technology and a proprietary “time release” mechanism. Medik8 researchers also add vitamin E to increase stability and shelf life.

The active version of retinol is known as “trans-retinol.” Basically, if you don’t have an active form of retinol, you don’t have an effective produdt. Medik8 uses ONLY trans retinol, and all batches are independently tested in order to meet our strict criteria of to ensure at least 95% trans-retinol concentration.

From a longevity standpoint, Medik8’s retinol will remain active for 12 months or longer. Also, Medik8 only produces products in small batches to ensure you receive the best (and most effective) product possible.

How much retinol is ideal?

Simply put, the amount of retinol your skin requires depends on several factors: skin type, skin condition, and overall skin health. That being said, you generally want to start applying retinol gradually – which will allow you to monitor your skin’s response and adjust accordingly. Medik8’s retinol products are structured in what we call a “ladder” system that moderately elevate in strength. Most clients start with our Retinol 3TR (.3%), then move to Retinol 6TR (.6%); and get to a maintenance program on our award-winning Retinol 10TR (1.0%). Also, we’re one of only a handful of companies savvy enough to formulate a product specific to the eye area: Retinol Eye TR (.1%).

Should I go for low strength retinol treatments?

medik8-retinol-3tr-vitamin-a-blogDon’t think that starting on a low strength retinol won’t benefit your skin – it will! Research published in the ‘Journal of Investigative Dermatology’ (2009) showed that a concentration of 0.01% retinol and upwards is very effective for improving the overall health and appearance of the skin. Keep in mind that this research doesn’t include the additional benefits derived from combining retinol with other powerful antioxidant skin repairing ingredients such as vitamin C.

Research also indicates that low amounts of retinol paired with other antioxidants help protect the skin against UV damage – when further enhanced protection of a broad spectrum sunscreen is included.

Medik8’s retinol products rejuvenate skin at the optimal time – night. Remember that retinol stimulates the production of collagen – which then increases levels of hyaluronic acid, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in target areas.

What are moderate strength retinol products?

When dealing with more stubborn concerns like hyper-pigmentation, deep set wrinkles, or red marks that linger after breakouts, it might be time to consider a more moderate strength percentage of retinol.

Retinol concentrations at 0.4% demonstrated visible improvements to sun damage – stimulating collagen production and thus decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2010).

Medik8 Retinol 6TR visibly regenerates the skin, smoothing away fine lines and wrinkles through the stimulation of collagen and elastin. 6TR also helps brighten and refine skin tone, thus accelerating natural skin cell turnover.

Is higher strength retinol for me?

If your skin can tolerated moderate strength retinol, but you feel the improvements have leveled off, then it may be time to consider increasing the retinol percentages you’re using.

Retinol 10TR is a rich and powerful product that targets skin with visible signs of photo-damage. An improvement in skin tone and texture is realized quickly.

Will using a retinol based product make my skin more sun sensitive?

Retinol in itself is sensitive to sunlight, which is why it’s recommended to be applied only at night. However, the reality is that a retinoid based product shouldn’t make your skin any more vulnerable to UV rays than an exfoliating facial scrub.

Will my skin look worse before it gets better?

Retinoids can cause the skin to become irritated and in some cases flaking is present. As mentioned above, it’s recommend to slowly “ladder” retinol into your skincare routine over a period of five weeks.

As an example, for the first two weeks, apply a retinol product every third night. If the skin isn’t showing signs of irritation for the next two weeks, apply it every other night. If after a few weeks, the skin is not dry, red or flaking, it’s time to apply the product every night.

A good rule of thumb is to give your skin a 15 minute break after cleansing before applying your retinol to avoid general irritation.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about retinol and how Medik8 approaches this incredible skin care element! More to come…

Medik8’s Retinol (Vitamin A) range


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