Karuna’s Ultimate Guide to Retinol

When it comes to skincare, finding the right products and ingredients can be challenging – especially when it comes to actives. One ingredient however that has quickly become an age-defying must-have is retinol. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is often considered a miracle worker for its ability to address a wide range of aging skin concerns but it’s all about choosing the right one for you and knowing how to incorporate it effectively into your routine. Fortunately, your friends at Karuna Skin are here to help! Let’s dive into everything there is to know about this gold-standard ingredient. 

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is commonly used in skincare products catered towards premature aging skin concerns. It is a powerful ingredient known for its ability to stimulate collagen production, promote cell turnover, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol is available in various forms, including over-the-counter (OTC) products, prescription-strength treatments, and microneedle patch technology – like our NEW Age Rewind Microneedle Patches!

The Benefits of Using Retinol

  • Reducing Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Retinol is renowned for its age-defying properties and has been proven to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow's feet by promoting collagen production and accelerating skin cell turnover.
  • Improving Skin Texture: Regular use of retinol can help smoothen uneven skin texture, making it appear more youthful, radiant, and less lackluster.
  • Evening Skin Tone: Retinol has been shown to visibly improve various forms of hyperpigmentation and reduce the appearance of dark spots and sun damage, resulting in a more even-looking complexion.
  • Pore Refinement: Retinol helps speed up cell turnover to aid in the prevention of clogs and can help increase firmness to visibly reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, making your skin look smoother and more refined.
  • Treating Acne: Various prescription and over-the-counter products use retinol in their formulas to address blemish-related concerns. It can help unclogs pores, prevents the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), and reduce the occurrence of breakouts.

  • Different Types of Retinol

    When choosing a retinol product, the conversion process is a key factor to consider. If you're new to retinoids or have sensitive skin, you may want to start with retinol or retinyl palmitate, as they are milder and involve more gradual conversions.

  • Retinol: Retinol is converted into its active form, retinoic acid, when it's absorbed by the skin. This conversion process involves several enzymatic steps. Retinoic acid is the form of vitamin A that directly interacts with the skin's receptors and influences cell turnover, collagen production, and other age-defying effects. While this conversion process makes retinol milder and less potent than prescription retinoids, it also results in a reduced risk of irritation, making it suitable for a broader range of users. Key when it comes to keeping skin in balance. * This is what we use in Age Rewind!

  • Retinyl Palmitate: Retinyl palmitate is a form of retinol ester. In skincare products, it needs to undergo a more extended conversion process to be transformed into active retinoic acid. This process involves the enzymatic breakdown of retinyl palmitate into retinol and then further into retinoic acid. As a result, products containing retinyl palmitate are typically milder and are often recommended for individuals with highly sensitive skin.

  • Retinaldehyde (Retinal): Retinaldehyde, also known as retinal, is a closer relative to retinoic acid. When applied to the skin, it requires just one enzymatic conversion step to become retinoic acid. This makes retinaldehyde more potent than retinol and retinyl palmitate, offering faster and more visible results with potentially less irritation. It's often considered a bridge between OTC retinols and prescription retinoids.

  • Prescription Retinoids:  Prescription-strength retinoids, such as tretinoin (Retin-A) and tazarotene, are already in the active retinoic acid form. They work directly with the skin's receptors and have the most potent effects. However, this potency comes with a higher likelihood of side effects, including redness, peeling, and increased sensitivity. These products require close supervision by a dermatologist.

  • Top 3 Retinol Formats

    1. Serums: Retinol serums are popular for their lightweight texture and ease of absorption. They are suitable for various skin types and can be easily integrated into existing routines.
    2. Creams: Retinol creams are thicker and can provide more hydration. They are ideal for those with drier skin and are typically applied at night.
    3. Microneedle Patches: These innovative patches contain tiny needles that penetrate the skin, delivering retinol directly into the epidermis. They offer a targeted and convenient way to apply retinol, with the added benefit of stimulating collagen production.

    How to Start Incorporating Your Retinol

    1. Start Slowly: If you're new to retinol, start with a low-strength product to allow your skin to acclimate. Begin using it 2-3 times a week and gradually increase the frequency.
    2. Apply at Night: Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it's best used in the evening. Apply it after cleansing and before moisturizing.
    3. Use Sunscreen: Never skip sunscreen when using retinol. It's crucial to protect your skin from UV damage, especially when it's more sensitive.
    4. Beware of Side Effects: Some common side effects of retinol include dryness, flakiness, redness, and peeling. These are usually temporary and can be managed with a good moisturizer.
    5. Alternate Your Other Actives: Retinol can interact negatively with certain skincare ingredients, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) when used in the same routine back-to-back. Try a Skin Cycling approach, switching up usage throughout the week or consult with a dermatologist to ensure compatibility with your existing skincare routine.

    Retinol is an extremely versatile age-defying skincare ingredient that can address a variety of concerns, from fine lines & wrinkles and loss of elasticity to uneven skin texture and dark spots. When used in the right format and incorporated correctly into a routine, you can experience all the youth-promoting benefits it has to offer without disrupting skin’s natural balance. The easiest way to introduce it? Age Rewind Microneedle Patches of course!

    What are your favorite benefits of retinol and have you started incorporating Age Rewind Microneedle Patches into your skincare routine? Let us know below or on Instagram @karunaskin to share all the details!

    October 18, 2023 — Linda Wang