How Retinol Creams for the Face Work
The secret to the most effective ingredient in your skin routine is that it plays well with others.
Retinol is the ultimate age fighter. But everything from its concentration (usually somewhere between .25% and 1% when it’s over the counter) to its co-stars—hyaluronic acid, vitamin F, vitamin B₃—are what make certain products best for some complexions, others better for others. One thing is for sure: If you’re a retinol newbie, start slow (e.g. applying only at night), then work up to more frequent use. Retinol is effective because it’s strong, which means your skin could get irritated. What’s waiting on the other side of that irritation is the skin of your dreams, so go gradually and get ready for greatness.
Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, works by enhancing collagen production (which starts to slow in our 20s) and triggering cell turnover. Exfoliation is a byproduct: You shed your old skin as it makes way for a smooth new layer. How very snakelike (and cool)!
When you apply a retinol, your skin first needs to convert it to retinoic acid to work. The addition of vitamin B₃ gives that process a boost, helping skin turn over faster.
Hyaluronic acid is a frequent companion of retinol. Contrary to what its name may suggest, this acid is seriously moisturizing. While retinol is doing its cell-turnover thing, HA is keeping the skin plump and hydrated. Together, they’re a lean, mean, wrinkle-fighting machine.