What you need to know about Retinol

Sarah Brown is the founder of Pai Skincare. Entrepreneur, mum and sensitive-skinned soul.

Should you have Retinol in your skincare routine?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A and when applied, our skin cells work to convert it into retinoic acid, which has been clinically proven to have benefits to skin health.

Though Retinol is known for its ability to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it can cause irritation. Often when you first start using Retinol there is a ‘break-in’ period, when you can experience redness, peeling or dryness. For those of us with sensitive skin, we already have a compromised skin barrier, and so are more susceptible to these kinds of reactions. My advice would be to not over do it. It’s always very tempting to load on a product to see the results, but with Retinol this won’t work and will increase the irritation. If you want to introduce the product into your routine, always patch test it first and then do it slowly – starting with lower levels of retinol and gradually building up.

While your skin is adjusting to Retinol, try to avoid other products that can be irritating such as harsh soaps, and use a trusted non-irritating cleanser to prevent further irritation or dryness, such as our Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. It’s also best to always use a sunscreen.

Use a really nourishing moisturiser that can help address any sensitivity you might experience, and also to prevent any water being lost from the skin. Our Age Confidence Cream contains Ectoine, which helps to address any irritation and Hyaluronic Acid to hold water in the skin.

Make sure you think about the packaging when you’re choosing a Retinol product. Retinol breaks down with exposure to air and light, so pick something that has an airtight container and an opaque bottle.

It’s important to understand Retinol does not have an instant effect. You won’t be able to see a difference overnight; it can take months to start seeing results so you need to be quite patient.

Our Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil is an alternative option for sensitive skin types. Though it does not contain Vitamin A, it contains Beta-carotene, which is a precursor (inactive form) of Vitamin A. It means the body has to convert the beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which will not happen upon application to the skin (but rather when it is ingested). However, beta-carotene acts as a great antioxidant on the skin, helping to provide protection against free radicals such as UV light or pollution.


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