How Does Retinol Work?

Benefits of Retinol (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)
Benefits of Retinol (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)

Retinol works by preventing the breakdown of existing collagen and stimulating new collagen. It has been scientifically proven that retinol has a stimulatory effect on the fibroblasts that produce collagen and as well as an inhibitory effect on enzymes that break down collagen support structure. It works successfully to help skin stay hydrated, treat dark spots, wrinkles, eczema, cystic acne and fade hyperpigmentation.

Benefits of Retinol

Cleans acne- It works by unblocking your follicles and removing your dead skin cells to keep pores clear. Retinol also reduces acne outbreaks by preventing dead cells from clogging pores. By unclogging pores, it also helps other creams to work better on your skin. You may notice redness or dryness when you first use it, but you can minimize this by using the product every other day until your body gets used to it.

Remove wrinkles- Retinol helps to resurface and rejuvenate the skin, giving you the skin that is vibrant, clear and youthful. It stimulates the production of collagen and new blood vessels in the skin, giving you a lively skin. They plump wrinkles and kindle the formation of collagen, leading to younger skin. Apply it on your face, hands, chest at least twice a week. It will take around 3 to 5 months before you actually see results.

Lightens Discoloration - It has exfoliating properties, which help to slough off dark cells to reveal lighter skin underneath.

Shrinks Pores - It removes debris that may stretch your pores open.

Best time to start using it:

Any retinol can dry out your skin to some extent, so summer is the perfect season to start using retinol as there is more humidity in the air. Medicated cleansers, astringents, alcohol-based toners, scrubs and exfoliation products are likely to react with retinol, so make sure you talk to your dermatologist before you start using it.


Apply retinol every third day for the first three weeks as it can cause flaking, redness, and dryness, every other day for the next 2 weeks and slowly move up to daily use if your skin doesn't feel dryness and flaking. Wash your face and wait for 15 minutes before you apply a retinol as you disturb your skin’s natural barrier when you wash your face and waiting for 15 minutes before applying a harsh product will give your skin a time to recover.

Things to know before using retinol:

Get a retinol product only packaged in an opaque container that reduces or minimizes air and light exposure. Remember to always put the cap back after using it.

The lower concentration is the perfect if you are using retinol for the first time or have sensitive skin.

Use a moisturizer after using a retinol cream since retinol dries out your skin.

The biggest myth associated with retinol is that it makes your skin sun-sensitive. Retinol prevents the growth of collagenase, an enzyme that breaks down collagen after sun exposure. So, retinol not just stimulates collagen production, but also stop photoaging.

Don’t Use Retinol:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • If you have ultra sensitive skin

  • If you have just taken waxing treatment as it can cause excess redness

  • If you are using ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids and benzoyl peroxide as it will cause your skin to dry out and will also deactivate retinoids

  • If you have sunburnt skin

  • On the lips or eyes as the skin is delicate in these areas.

You will have to be patient as it usually takes around four to five months to see the results. Take an appointment with your dermatologist to know more about retinol benefits. Your doctor will select what concentration and strength will be best for your skin tone. He will also analyze your skin’s reaction to retinol over time.

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