Retinol / Retinoid 101: Things you need to know!

Through the pandemic, we have seen an exponential rise in the prevalence of skincare gurus and skin specialists on social media. Be it YouTube or Instagram or Tik Tok, skincare buzzwords are everywhere and it can be easy to feel lost in a sea of daunting technical terms. If you are looking for a quick crash course in skincare, you have come to the right place. Today, we are going to talk about a skincare fan favourite, Retinols and Retinoids!


→ What is a Retinoid?

It’s always good to start at the basics! Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that are the gold standard for anti-aging cosmetic and beauty products. Since the skin is an extremely retinoid responsive organ, topical application of retinoids has proven beneficial for a wide array of skincare concerns ranging from fine lines to hyperpigmentation.


→ Wait..so are Retinols and Retinoids the same?

While you may be seeing these two terms being used interchangeably, you would be surprised to know that there indeed is a difference between Retinoids and Retinols.

Retinoids refer to prescription strength products with potent Vitamin A derivatives like retinoic acid whereas Retinols are over-the-counter alternatives that are much more gentle on the skin and easier to tolerate. However, Retinoids and Retinols have the same goals and target the same skincare concerns.


→ How do they work?

Vitamin A derivatives work by increasing the rate of the skin cell turnover process. Since these Vitamin A derivatives stimulate the production of new skin cells while also exfoliating the top layer of the dead skin cells, there is a constant turnover which results not just in glowing skin but also in prevention of fine lines, Follicular Hyperkeratosis and age spots. Additionally, Vitamin A derivatives also go deep into the dermis and unclog the pores of any built-up sebum, grime and dirt.


Is Retinol harmful / Does Retinol cause Cancer?

A common myth you may have heard is that Retinol causes cancer/skin damage. Just because Retinols and Retinoids are effective in exfoliating the top layer of the dead skin cells, it does not mean that they make the skin more susceptible to skin damage. Studies have in fact shown that regular and safe use of Vitamin A derivatives can help in increasing the skin’s resistance to sun damage.


→ What Retinol products should I use?

Beginning your Retinol journey can be an exciting and intimidating step. What you need through the initial stages of this process is a gentle product like Zo Skin Health’s Daily Power Defence formulated with gentle ingredients like Vitamin E and C to compliment the 0.25% Retinol.

If you are slightly more experienced with actives you can try Zo Skin Health’s Retinol Skin Brightener 0.5% formulated with Retinol to target signs of aging and help with hyperpigmentation, which are often commonly referred to as brown spots, age spots or liver spots..


To summarise, if you aren’t using a Retinol already, you should hop on that train. There are a number of myths out there about the use of Retinoids. So, make sure you do your due research and consult an experienced skincare practitioner or dermatologist to find a skincare routine with Retinol that suits you best!



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