Retinol. Are You Using The Right One?

Retinol- Are you using the right one?

Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, has small enough molecules to penetrate the epidermis to reach the skin receptors to stimulate natural production of collagen and elastin that diminish as we age, leading to skin sagging, lines, wrinkles and irregular skin tone and texture. Collagen and elastin are the core building blocks of healthy, youthful skin. They are the primary materials we work to restore and replenish during surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation (anti-aging) procedures.

High quality, medical-grade retinol formulations are created to maximize the penetration of retinoic acid to induce better skin cell turnover and reduce fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage and age spots.

What are some tips to ensure consistent retinol use for best efficacy and results?  Here are some of FAQs SkinMD staff have gotten from patients about retinol use:

How do I use my retinol?
We normally start patients on a standard strength, blended retinol to avoid issues with redness, flaking and irritation that used to occur regularly with older formulations or higher concentrations started to fast.  Some people develop varying degree of redness, flaking and irritation, typically 3 to 4 days of use. This is entirely normal and will eventually settle with continuing use. We step you up gradually in terms of amount and frequency of usage (number of evenings per week)

When I used one before it irritated my skin. Will this do the same?
One of the advantages of retinol is that it is converted to the active retinoic acid after the molecule has been absorbed, so that the risk of redness and flaking after you begin using it is lower. Many SkinMD formulations include skin soothing agents to reduce the chance of redness and irritation.

Can I have facial treatments when I am using a retinol?
Absolutely, yes. You are able to receive facial treatments like skin peels, fractional laser resurfacing, laser hair reduction and microneedling. We will instruct you to stop using your retinol anywhere from five days to two weeks depending of the strength of your retinol and the type and intensity of treatment.

I am going on holiday to Hawaii/Mexico. Should I stop using retinol?
A similar question to this is whether to only use retinol in fall and winter. 
I recommend using your retinol skin treatment year round. Your skin needs to turn over regularly for best outcomes, so nightly use of your retinol is best.  In either case, please exercise good skincare and be conscientious about UV protection.

Is retinol good for brown spots and large pores?
Yes and yes.  Retinol encourages better skin repair with new collagen and elastin production, cell turnover and exfoliation and also reduces sebum production. Younger, plumper cells on the skin surface sit closer together for a glowing, “pore-less” appearance.

Why did you prescribe a retinol for my acne?
The sebum (skin oil) reduction, exfoliation and cell turnover functions of a retinol, make it very useful in the management of acne. 
Reduction of oiliness of the skin combined with improved elasticity should also lead to reduced pore size.

I want better cell turnover and exfoliation but my skin just doesn’t like retinol. Anything else I can use that works just as well?
Yes. We offer non-retinol alternatives that are very well tolerated by our retinol sensitive patients. We can recommend the best non-retinol alternative based on your skin type and skin condition.


We use a range of retinol products at our SkinMD Seattle, which allow us to set up custom skincare regimens for our patients. To see Dr. Balogun and one of her skin health experts please contact SkinMD Seattle to schedule your appointment.

SkinMD Laser and Aesthetic Medical Clinic












"keeping you youthful for years to come"
T: (206) 525-0903
W: www.skinmdseattle.com 

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