Retinol Explained

Pure retinol cream formulations can be used as part of an evidenced-based skincare regimen to help to improve the visible effects of photoageing. A form of vitamin A, retinol is one of the most widely researched and proven skincare ingredients available today. Retinol is a potent ingredient that helps promote cell turnover to diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and blemishes. Formulated with pure retinol and bisabolol (derived from chamomile), SkinCeuticals retinol creams are designed to ensure maximum efficacy while minimising irritation commonly associated with the use of retinol creams.

Retinol Explained

How does retinol benefit my skin?

With age, skin’s natural cell turnover decreases resulting in dull, uneven skin tone and rough skin texture. Topical retinol creams help promote turnover of surface cells, which means dead skin cells are sloughed away faster, revealing visibly healthier and brighter skin. Similarly, retinol’s exfoliation mechanism helps improve the appearance of blemishes by preventing dead skin cells from clogging pores.

When applied to the skin, retinol converts to retinoic acid. Purity is essential for retinol efficacy in skin, as pure retinol most easily converts to retinoic acid in skin. When looking to buy a retinol cream always look for a high concentration of pure retinol vs. retinol derivatives such as retinyl palmitate. SkinCeuticals uses pure, high concentrations of retinol enhanced with stabilisation to ensure maximum conversion and efficacy.


Is retinol the same as tretinoin?

Retinol and tretinoin are both chemical compounds derived from vitamin A. Tretinoin is a pharmaceutical form of retinoic acid available only by prescription. It is frequently prescribed for acne, but also helps improve fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Though highly effective, this topical treatment can cause unwanted side effects including redness, peeling, and dryness1. Topical retinol, on the other hand, is available for purchase without a prescription. While it functions similarly to tretinoin, research has shown that it exhibits notably less irritation potential2. For the appropriate recommendation on which form of vitamin A product is best suited to your specific skin needs, please consult the SkinCeuticals skincare professional.


Can I use retinol in the sun?

Pure retinol acts as a strong exfoliant, which can render skin sensitive to sun and UV damage. Therefore, it is recommended that retinol be applied in the evening and always be used in conjunction with a high broad spectrum sunscreen. Many physicians do not recommend retinol during peak summer months.


How to use retinol?

In the evening after cleansing and toning, apply a pea-sized amount to the tips of the fingers. Using too much retinol can irritate the skin. Dab the product onto your face, avoiding the eye area and massage firmly until it has absorbed into skin. For optimal results, allow for absorption before applying other skincare products. Limit initial use to once or twice a week then, as tolerance increases, gradually increase frequency to nightly if appropriate.

SkinCeuticals recommend using a retinol cream only at night to limit photosensitivity and irritation. Always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen the next morning, when using this product.


When to avoid retinol?

Due to its exfoliating mechanism of action, a topical retinol creams may increase skin sensitivity and the potential for irritation, especially when used with certain medications or professional in-clinic treatments such as chemical peels. As retinol creams can increase photosensitivity, extensive periods of sun exposure are not encouraged. It is especially important to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen while using this product. During pregnancy please consult a physician to determine whether the use of a retinol cream or other vitamin A products is appropriate.

For more information on skincare ingredients, go to our Skincare Ingredients Dictionary.

Retinol is found in Retinol 0.3.


1Tretinoin topical side effects

2 Kang S et al. Application of retinol. J Invest Dermatol, 1995