So, retinol, right?
For years I’ve been preaching with the choir that retinol is the way to go if you’re serious about taking care of your skin, yet I haven’t been successful at using it myself.
What is retinol and why use it, you ask? It’s a form of vitamin A that is both a potent anti oxidant and a cell-communicating ingredient. You should have an idea by now that anti oxidants fight the damage that occurs through our everyday lives, but cell communicators are really great inventions.
They have the ability to interact with receptor cells, giving them messages like ‘hey collagen cells, time to shape up your production levels, this is no holiday’ or ‘what’s up keratin cells, better stop hanging around the walls of these pores because you’re stretching them and if that carries on too long we won’t be able to reverse the damage’ or ‘hey gangster bad cells, get out now or we’ll bust your knee caps’.
I’ve tried a full-on regime with tiny bits of retinol derivatives in the entire range, and I’ve tried one way-too-strong 2% Retinol serum – both were equally unsuccessful. There was itching, redness, coarse patches, dryness, the works – neither suited me.
Third time lucky, hopefully – I think I’ve found the right retinol for me. I’m starting on Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5% very slowly – so slowly that I can’t even give you feedback yet because I’ve only used it twice. I had a chat with Sonette Donker from Skin ID Clinic, and she walked me through the right way to start using retinol. So here we go.
1. Start with a low dose of retinol
I’m one of the first people to hammer on about active ingredients and that there should be enough of them in your products to actually have an effect. Retinol, however, is an ingredient that’s effective at very low percentages – you should start between 0.3% – 0.5% and you can eventually work your way up to 1%. You probably won’t need to go higher than that except if you have serious skin issues like deep scarring.
Give your retinol serum a couple of minutes to sink in, and then follow with a soothing serum or a moisturiser with soothing ingredients. It will not interfere with the retinol, but it will minimise your skin’s negative reaction (redness, dryness, itching, tightness) so you’ll be able to tolerate it much easier.
While we’re at it, I’d make sure that whatever you’re applying over it does not have any known irritants like fragrance, alcohol etc.
3. Start gradually
I gave my skin a full week after the first use to check if there’s going to be any reaction. Since there wasn’t, I’ll now be using it twice a week for a couple of weeks, and then three times a week. Theoretically you can carry on increasing until you’re using it twice a day, every day, but that seems like overkill to me. I’ll see whether I stick with every second night or whether I’ll want to try using it every night – I don’t see myself using it during the day as well.
If you don’t start gradually you should be prepared for a retinization reaction – redness, peeling, dryness, itching and possibly scabbing. If you don’t mind that, there’s no damage in going all-out – I’m just not down with looking red and crusty.
If this all sounds a little scary, that’s not the point of it at all. With the Dermaceutic 0.5% Retinol I haven’t felt any stinging or burning, and there has been no side effects. I’ll update you in a month or so when I’ve worked my way up to using it 2-3 times a week.
Have a look at Sonette’s clinic here and to find a Dermaceutic stockist you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5% retails for R700 and 1.0% retails for R770.