What is retinol, beauty’s latest buzzword?

Retinol is at the top of my skincare list now that I'm getting older

By Tegan Mouton

What is retinol, beauty’s latest buzzword?


As I crest over my 25th birthday and begin the second half of my twenties, I’ve started looking at anti-aging products and ingredients with new eyes. One of the first things I’m looking to add to my arsenal is a retinol cream or serum.(Side note, I can’t believe there was ever a time I put up a fight with my parents about wearing sunscreen on the beach).

If you’re like me and you always feel like you’re the last to hear about the latest beauty and skincare trends, you might be a bit mystified about the word “retinol” and why it keeps popping up everywhere.

Basically, retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, and is great for skin reparation and collagen production, which slows down naturally as you age (boo). In fact, up until your early to mid 30s, your cells regenerate roughly every 28 days, creating a fresh layer of new skin. As your cell-regeneration slows down (an entirely normal but seriously sucky side-effect of ageing) you’ll start developing wrinkles, fine lines and changes in pigmentation etc.

Once applied to your skin, the retinol converts to retinoic acid by your skin’s enzyme, reducing some of the above mentioned features, brightening skin and even reversing some of the side effects of sun damage.

While there are plenty of pros to be excited about, it’s not an overnight solution and there could be some minor side effects after using it the first few times. Retinoids essentially cause your skin to shed cells faster than normal, so experiencing flakiness, dryness, irritation, and/or breakouts aren’t unlikely during the adjustment period. There are actually different variations of retinol when it comes to strength, so a lighter dose might work better in the beginning.

While your skin’s getting used to it, it’s best to only apply your retinol creams and serums one or two nights a week before ramping it up to frequent use to ensure long term benefits. It’s also recommended to apply at night and wear moisturiser and sunscreen the next morning to combat that extra sensitivity. (Obviously those with sensitive skin or specific conditions should take extra care or consult a dermatologist).

As is the case with a lot of anti-ageing products, starting sooner rather than later is recommended, so I for one can’t wait to get on the retinol train!

Here are two of the products that have been recommended to me:

Neutrogena Ageless Wrinkle Serum

R 219.95

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum 30 Piece