I haven’t had anything against the vitamin A derivative, but it wasn’t until this year that I started using retinol. I didn’t have any hang-ups about products conventionally seen as, “anti-aging,” but I also didn’t see the point until this year.
But first, a brief but important aside:
No one NEEDS anti-aging products. No one NEEDS products at all, for that matter. I, however, am:
That said, don’t just accept fake, “needs,” created for you by companies to get you to buy things. Do some critical introspection. Do you think you need to buy it because you’ve been heavily targeted by advertising? Do you think you need to buy it because of bullshit you see on Instagram?
What I Learned about Retinol
I always thought it was over-the-top when 20-year-olds would cite wrinkle concerns and douse themselves in retinol or retinoids. Especially, you know, when they weren’t taking sun safety seriously.
For ages, I thought retinol was primarily an anti-aging product. Though it is often used that way, it is just as much (if not more!) a tool to manage acne and other skin conditions – so young people do have uses for retinol or retinoids beyond anti-aging purposes.
For example, dermatologists commonly prescribe retinoids like Retin-A (tretinoin) which is a topical, Accutane (isotretinoin) which is an oral medication, to manage acne and psoriasis. There’s also Differin (adapalene), which is another form that I understand to formerly have been by-prescription-only. It is now available more accessibly over-the-counter.
Beyond that, there are hundreds of other retinol-based products out there.
Wait, Retinol or Retinoid?
That’s a good question. Both refer to a classification of vitamin A derivatives that are used in the way I’m describing for skincare.
Generally, if a doctor is prescribing it, it’s a retinoid (though Differin is also a retinoid). They are stronger and tend to take effect faster, but the trade-off is that the strength can cause sensitivity and irritation.
Retinol is not as strong, but people tend to tolerate it better without irritation – hence its broad availability over-the-counter. Generally, retinol products are formulated with other ingredients that help either soothe potential irritation or reduce steps (i.e., a moisturizer that has retinol in it to kill two birds with one stone).