Skin – the largest organ of the body – protects all the other organs from the external environment. The skin is a complex organ with multiple structures and cell types and divided into three layers: epidermis, dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue. Apart from environmental protection against radiation, functions of the skin include heat regulation, immune response, biochemical synthesis, sensory detection, regulation of absorption/loss of water and electrolytes. The stratum corneum formed from nonviable corneocytes plays the major role. Keratin is aligned in the intercrossed disulfidic macrofibres along with filaggrin, the main protein component of the keratolytic granule. The cells develop a cornified involucre resulting from the intercrossing of involucrin and keratohyalin. Lamellar lipids accumulate in the intercellular spaces, which are strongly hydrophobic. The combination of the cornified hydrophilic cells with the hydrophobic intercellular material forms a barrier for the external hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances. With age the skin’s natural rejuvenation process slows drastically and the skin becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic.
Skin aging is influenced by several factors including genetics, environmental exposure (UV radiation, xenobiotics, and mechanical stress), hormonal changes and metabolic processes (generation of reactive chemical compounds such as activated oxygen species, sugars and aldehydes). All factors together act on the alterations of skin structure, function, and appearance. Yet solar UV radiation unquestionably is the single major factor responsible for skin aging.
The importance of retinol (vitamin A) was discovered during World War I and subsequent research showed that its deficiency gives rise to xerosis and follicular hyperkeratosis. The retinoid drug project was launched in 1968 to synthesize compounds similar to vitamin A by chemical manipulation of its molecule to improve clinical efficacy and safety. The use of these substances in therapy dates back some 3000 years to ancient Egypt, where liver was used to treat endemic night blindness. The modern history of retinoids, however, began in 1909 when an essential factor in the viability of an embryo in the fatty extract of the egg yolk, called vitamin A, was discovered. Retinoids finally were introduced into the treatment of dermatoses including photoaging more than two decades ago.
Retinol is found in many different beauty and skincare products that you can buy over the counter. You may also see a cosmetic provider who may proscribe retinol to you. Retinol can make your skin look and feel softer, smoother, and have a radiant glow. It will help decrease fine lines and wrinkles while improving collagen production. Retinol comes in a variety of strengths. Recommended starting on a 0.25 to 0.5 strength and use it 2 to 3 times a week. If your skin is not irritated then you can move up to using it 4 nights a week. Be sure to use a retinol product, not a Retin-A product, which is much stronger than retinol.
Tretinoin (Retin-A, generic), tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac), and adapalene (Differin) are prescription retinoids. Adapalene is also available over the counter (in a 0.1% formulation versus the 0.3% prescription version). Other retinoids are undergoing clinical trials. In addition, several over-the-counter products containing retinoids, such as retinol, are available. Because they’re not as strong (and thus less irritating), they are not as effective in reducing wrinkles as tretinoin; but they do improve the appearance of photo-aged skin. Tretinoin can be used with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for additional skin-smoothing effects.
Retinol May Clear Your Acne
Do you have treatment-resistant acne? Retinol may be just what you need. By unclogging pores, retinol clears skin and prevents further outbreaks from occurring. Naturally, less acne will result in fewer acne scars. Plus, retinoids can amplify the effects of other medicated creams and gels, allowing you to get the maximum benefits of whatever treatments you’re using.
Retinol May Fight Signs Of Aging
You can rest easy knowing that retinol is one of the most used and most well-studied anti-aging ingredients on the market. Originally marketed as an anti-acne treatment in the 70s, tretinoin quickly proved to have considerable anti-aging effects.
Retinol May Help Even Skin Tone
One of the many noteworthy aspects of retinol is that it stimulates skin cell turnover, which is manifested as a sort of “exfoliating” effect. Dull and dry skin makes way for new, brighter, and more even-toned skin, armed with increased levels of collagen and elastin. The thicker skin is stronger and smoother and has fewer overall imperfections. Thus, even relatively “problem-free” skin can have radiating effects from retinol.
Retinol Is Cost-Effective
Depending on your budget, spending on retinol may seem like an extravagance you cannot afford. However, spending on cheaper, short-term solutions may ultimately prove the pricier option in the end. Retinol is one of the only ingredients with scientifically-proven benefits, making it a reliable investment for your future.
Available In Prescription Or Over-The-Counter
For most people, an over-the-counter retinoid should be enough to get started. The lower dosage allows the skin to acclimate to the product with a lower risk of irritation. These lower doses of retinol also have fewer side effects than prescription-strength retinoic acid. However, the trade-off is that it may take longer to see visible results. If you have any hesitation about your required dosage, consult with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon.