Retinol (vitamin A) is one of the most common ingredients in anti-ageing cosmetic creams, lotions and oils. Although the most effective results are achieved by applying retinol to the skin, it is also supplied in the form of vitamin supplements. Is it as effective as they say? What don’t we know about this component?
In theory, it’s all benefits: retinol helps against wrinkles and premature signs of ageing, sun or age spots (photoageing), acne and pigmentation problems, and also improves the texture of the skin. Its antioxidant capability fights free radicals in our body and protects against cell damage. It also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which give the skin strength and flexibility.
The anti-ageing solution? Although many studies have shown its efficacy, we should be careful with the dosage, particularly with more sensitive skins: symptoms such as irritation or flaking may be a sign of toxicity. However, this is sometimes difficult, as many products do not specify the concentration of retinol they contain.
When to use it
One of the most notable effects of retinol is its ability to exfoliate (remove dead cells), which makes the skin more sensitive to light (photosensitive). It is therefore recommended that users apply the cream at night, avoid exposure to sunlight and use a good sunblock on the skin to prevent spots or stains.
Currently, some dermatologists are concerned about the presence of retinol in makeup foundation, lipstick, sunblock and personal hygiene products, especially those promoted as “anti-ageing”. These products tend to be used during the day, which inverts the effect of retinol by causing faster ageing.
Furthermore, specialists recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding women refrain from using retinol.
Beyond the skin
Some studies have cast doubt on the effects of retinol in certain cases, which has led to a debate in the clinical community that is still open. In 2010, an international study of more than 500,000 people showed that excessive intake of retinol cancelled out the benefits of vitamin D against colon cancer.
Retinol is a substance approved by the regulatory bodies and has proven effectiveness. However, it should always be used in accordance with the instructions contained in the prospectus and, even better, under expert advice.