Retinol for Getting Rid of Wrinkles: How Does It Work?
The dreaded and inevitable wrinkles that occur with age come from a variety of factors. Chronological aging occurs naturally and is pre-programmed into our DNA just as our very beginning development is programmed. Photoaging is the result of exposure to the sun and its UV rays. Women, in addition to those other factors, also face wrinkling as a result of hormonal changes in menopause, which is why women tend to wrinkle earlier than men. (Dammit.)
When it comes to fighting the signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging, is there really anything that can help?
According to dermatologists, yes. The one skincare ingredient that dermatologists agree can actually reduce, reverse, and delay the signs of aging is retinol. But how does it work to turn back the clock?
Retinol and Wrinkles: How Does it Help?
Retinol reduces wrinkles first by penetrating into cells and then by directing the cells to function more efficiently, the way the cells function in younger people. Normally, our cells can only glean retinol from vitamin A inside the foods we eat. While the antioxidants we intake through food are highly beneficial, the direct application of vitamin A in the form of retinol applied topically, means the huge benefits of retinol are absorbed directly into the cells of our face and neck.
When retinol enters the reception centers inside our cells they begin to reproduce more rapidly, eventually causing the older cells at the skin’s surface to slough off, making room for the newer cells beneath. This cell regeneration helps to strengthen the support of cell structures in our skin. With continual use, the newer, fresher cells will make up the surface of the skin on our face and neck, and the result is a younger, fresher look.
Retinol and Collagen Production
Retinol not only helps cells to regenerate faster, it also aids in the production of collagen. Collagen is a critical building material used in young skin to provide elasticity. As we age, collagen production naturally slows. With decreased elasticity, our skin begins to sag and form lines and wrinkles.
With the addition of retinol into a skincare routine, collagen production is stimulated and skin will regain some of the elasticity of youth. Skin will be firmer and fine lines will be smoothed away. As new cells replace the old, hyperpigmentation from sun exposure will lessen and skin will show a smoother, brighter, more evenly-toned appearance.
While retinol works well to minimize fine lines and surface wrinkles, it will not help erase deep wrinkles that involve the deeper structures of the skin. For help with deep wrinkles, a dermatologist may have other solutions.
Retinol and Free Radicals
Retinol is a powerful antioxidant that helps destroy harmful free radical cells which increase in the skin’s surface in response to environmental factors, including UV ray exposure. By helping to neutralize these free radical cells, retinol further helps to repair skin damage and prevent future damage. It calms the skin surface and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Five Main Types of Retinoids
The most popular retinoids used in products to prevent or correct wrinkles are:
- Retinyl Palmitate: A mild, over-the-counter retinoid for treating faint lines, and appropriate for those with sensitive skin who wish to avoid strong products.
- Retinaldahyde: a slightly stronger product to treat fine lines and wrinkles.
- Retinol: The strongest available over-the-counter retinoid product for treating wrinkles.
- Tretinoin: Available by prescription only, this is a strong retinoid product used for treating wrinkles or acne.
- Tazarotene: The strongest retinoid product used primarily for treating acne and available by prescription only.
It’s important to note that retinoid products formulated to correct acne-prone skin are generally in alcohol-based formulas that are too drying to use for a wrinkle treatment. Retinol products that are meant to treat wrinkles and fine lines are usually based in a nourishing, hydrating cream or serum.
Dermatologists recommend beginning with a mild retinol formula and working your way up to a stronger one as your skin adjusts. If mild drying and irritation occurs it can be beneficial to begin by applying your retinol product every other night at the beginning and work your way up to every night as your skin improves. Remember to always protect your skin with an SPF formula moisturizer in the morning after using retinol.