As the anti-ageing frenzy around retinol continues, some of us are still concerned around the dos and don’ts of this powerful anti-ageing ingredient. Celebs like Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen and Kim Kardashian are all proclaimed fans of retinoids (the umbrella term for retinol products), which are derived from Vitamin A and improve skin texture, pigmentation, fine lines and acne.

Now that we’re seeing products with active and concentrated retinol (0.25% or more) to really make a difference to your skin, different opinions and questions are popping up about when to use them, when you shouldn’t use them, and what they actually do to your skin. So we’re here to help! Below are some of the myths around retinols, and the reality behind them as confirmed by dermatologists.

Myth #1: You’ll see effects from retinol within a few weeks

Sadly no, while some fancy marketing campaigns claim their products will give you results from retinol in just a couple weeks, the reality is it takes about 12 weeks to create proven noticeable changes in the skin from retinol. Keep it up and you’ll thank the you from 3 months ago!

Myth #2: Retinol works like a peel

While there can be some light peeling, redness or sensitivity when using retinoids, this is more due to irritation as your skin gets used to the product. The skin improving results are created instead by the product enhancing collagen production, smoothing the skin and reducing pigmentation.

Myth #3: If you get irritation, you should stop using retinol

This irritation is all part of the process and is very normal for most people, it means your skin is getting used to the mechanisms the retinol’s action, and it’s working! As long as it’s just a bit of redness or flakey skin (that isn’t too uncomfortable), just push through and your skin will soon adapt to it. Initially you can try diluting your retinol serum or lotion with a moisturiser to nourish the skin for a more gentle experience, as well as starting off with using the product every second or third night, rather than every night.

Myth #4: Never wear retinol during the daytime

While retinoids do break down in sunlight (so it’s better they are worn at night, so they’re at their most active), they won’t make skin more prone to sunburn. Clinical studies have shown that retinoids don’t lower the MED – minimal erythemal dos – of the skin (the amount of UV light you can take before you burn), however you should always be wearing at least SPF 30+ on your face on top of any skincare.

Myth #5: You shouldn’t apply retinol around your sensitive eye area

You definitely can, and you definitely should! This is usually where the most noticeable signs of ageing begin, so using around the eye area will give you optimum results against those pesky fine lines. As with the rest of your face, just ensure you’re using a nourishing eye cream after (or with) your retinol.

Myth #6: Don’t take your retinol on your summer holiday

A warmer climate won’t make your skin react differently, but if you’re jumping on a long flight it’s best to have extra moisturiser to apply for any dryness. You want to continue to boost that collagen production!

Our favourite retinol products:

O Cosmedics O-Biotics Retinoic Oil

This next generation product contains Retinoate (derived from Vitamin A), which has the strong anti-ageing and anti-acne power of retinol, but without the irritation. This nourishing serum doesn’t need to be mixed with a moisturiser, and decreases the effects of UV induced skin damage and rejuvenates skins of all ages. This one is perfect for those who have not been able to use Vitamin A due to irritation in the past, or those starting out on retinol. 

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O Cosmedics Potent Retinol Serum

This potent product contains 0.5% of pure, bioactive retinol in micro-encapsulation technology, meaning superior stability and potency. Perfect for skins showing the first signs of ageing, lack of firmness and elasticity, pigmentation and sun damage. It’s also full of bonus anti-ageing ingredients including V8 Peptide Complex, niacinamide, Snap-8 and L-Sodium Hyaluronate. Mix in with your moisturiser each night for the ultimate anti-ageing treatment!

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O Cosmedics Retinol Concentrate

The strong stuff! This powerful concentration of 1% retinol (the maximum allowable concentration without a doctor’s prescription) make this serum a potent anti-ageing tool. Again, this one is packed with additional ingredients to boost your skin and reduce the look of ageing, including V8 Peptide Complex, niacinamide, Snap-8 and L-Sodium Hyaluronate. If you’ve used retinol before, opt for this one to up the ante and mix in with your moisturiser for maximum results.

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