Retinol, a brief history
Retinol is the chemical name for vitamin A. Scientists first remarked its skin-friendly benefits back in the 70's, when they discovered that dry, irritated skin could be caused by a lack of vitamin A. They then decided to use vitamin A-derived molecules - retinol - to deal with various skin problems. Retinoic acid was first used to treat acne, before researchers realised that it also had beneficial effects on skin's appearance and elasticity. In the 90's it took the anti ageing skincare word by storm, thanks to its ability to minimise the four classic signs of ageing: dry skin, loss of elasticity, thinning skin and the appearance of wrinkles. But it wasn't suited to sensitive skin and caused flare-ups including irritations, rashes and inflammation. Retinol was suddenly put on the back burner in favour of hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and peptides...
Any skincare specialist will tell you that retinol plays an essential role in preventing cracks (AKA wrinkles) in the dermis, as well as combating ageing skin and the harmful effects of UV rays.
A skin-loving all-rounder, retinol works on two levels: it exfoliates the epidermis to brighten and even out skin tone, whilst boosting collagen production in the dermis to deal with visible signs of ageing. In other words, it not only prevents wrinkles, but also balances melatonin (skin pigment) production and evens out our complexion.
Retinol's back with a vengeance, this time suited to sensitive skin. Once shunned for its irritating properties (partly due to concentration levels that reached 0.3%), this molecule is now presented in lower doses that are gentle and easily-tolerated. Some treatments use slow-release retinol, which gives our skin time to adjust. Retinol is often included with other active ingredients and comes recommended for women whose skin couldn't handle previous versions. So, happily for us, retinol is once again gracing the anti ageing podium!