Why Retinol Is Your Skin’s BFF!

Why Retinol Is Your Skin’s BFF!
November 11, 2015 Cierra Eubank

We’ve all seen em’ and we all get em’. They cower in the crevices and bury themselves deep down in the depths of our pores. I’m talking about pesky blackheads, of course, and if you’re struggling to get rid of them then retinol is your skin’s best friend.

Our estheticians call it the “head honcho” because in addition to treating acne and blackheads, retinol also minimizes the  appearance of wrinkles, boosts skin’s elasticity and firmness by preventing the breakdown of collagen, and even lightens brown spots caused by sun damage.

What Even Are Blackheads?

Typically caused by the overproduction of oil, a blackhead is a widened pore or follicle that is blocked by bacteria and oil. They can be yellowish in color and can appear on every type of skin, especially oily skin.

Fun Fact of the Day!

Skin produces oil that contains a pigment called melanin, which gives skin its color. When melanin is exposed to air it oxidizes and turns dark, which is why blackheads look black. If the bacteria and oil in the follicle don’t have an opening to the skin’s surface, then it becomes a white head.

So What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A and a type of exfoliant that prompts skin cells to turn over and die rapidly in order to make way for fresh, new skin cells underneath. Skin naturally exfoliates itself, but as this process slows down over time dead skin cells can build up in your pores. Fortunately retinol helps to speed up the exfoliation process. As the outer skin layer (epidermis) evens out and gets thicker, the outer dead layer will shed more efficiently and therefore will be less likely to form acne.

How Do I Use it?

You don’t need to use more than a pea-sized amount, especially if you are trying it out for the first time. Retinol is photosensitive, so if you go outside with it on it could cause adverse effects… and we don’t want that! Our estheticians recommend applying it before bed every other night, and if your skin can handle it you can eventually work your way up to every night. Our estheticians also recommend using a moisturizer and sunscreen in tandem with retinol to protect the new skin cells.

Don’t forget to use it sparingly, because too much retinol may irritate the skin.

Are There Any Side Effects?

When using retinol for the first time your skin may experience sensitivity, peeling, flakiness, redness and dryness. However, these effects will go away after a couple of weeks once your skin builds up its tolerance to the vitamin A. Washing your face with a gentle scrub will help to remove the top layer of old skin.

Over the counter skin care products contain less retinol and therefore might irritate the skin less, but it will take longer to see results. On the flip side, if you are using a professional skin care product with retinol you could see results in as little as one to eight weeks!

As you can see, retinol certainly earns its title as the “head honcho” of skin care products. If you are still uncertain about letting retinol into your inner circle of friends please feel free to comment below with any questions or concerns you may have.

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My name is Cierra Eubank and I'm an aspiring photojournalist. I graduated from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2015. I currently work at Fuchsia Spa in Dana Park, and I also work part time at abc15 as a studio technician. I love the outdoors, film photography, philosophy, and of course people. :)


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