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The Science of Aging Skin
All of us will experience aging of the skin. On a microscopic level,
- There is reduced skin cell and skin thickness
- Reduced water and hyaluronic acid molecules
- Reduction of skin collagen and reduction in the skin support structures.
Visually, the skin becomes :
- more dry and rough
- more wrinkled with fine lines
- more lax and saggy
- you will start to see the buildup of pigmentations.
Benefits of Retinol to skin aging
There is one particular skincare which can potentially combat skin aging, and that is retinol. Retinol is a wonder-drug for the skin as it has been proven through many medical studies that it can help maintain beautiful glowing skin.
These 5 fantastic changes will happen to your skin when you start using retinol in your skin care regime.
- Increases new skin cell growth and thickness of skin
- Reduces fine wrinkles
- Reduces pigmentations
- Improves skin texture and reduces roughness
- Improves collagen and skin support structure giving you firmer skin
The effects of retinol is gradual so do use it continuously for 6 months or more to start seeing beautiful glowing skin.
Possible side effects of retinol
There are some mild side effects to retinol, they include
- skin dryness
- skin redness
- skin irritation and itch
- skin peeling
However , these side effects are uncommon and are generally seen in patients with dry and sensitive skin. If you do encounter any of these side effects, do try these few steps.
- Reduce the amount you apply each time
- Reduce the frequency of application - meaning instead of applying every night, reduce it to alternate nights
- or apply a layer of moisturiser first before the retinol.
Optimise the benefits
Recommendations to ensure the maximal effectiveness of retinol?
1) Use it at night.
Retinol is a rather unstable molecule and it can degrade easily on exposure to sunlight.Therefore, application at night is the best way to allow it to have maximal effectiveness.
2) Using it together with moisturiser
We know that retinol, even at the low concentration can cause some irritation and skin dryness. Therefore, the application of moisturiser is important and synergistic.
It depends on whether one should apply the moisturiser before or after retinol.
- If your skin is sensitive, the recommendation will be to use the moisturiser first followed by retinol just to reduce the irritation.
- But if your skin can tolerate retinol well, I would use retinol as the first layer after washing your face so as to ensure maximal absorption.
3) Using with sun block
The application of retinol may make your skin slightly more sensitive to the sun in the day. Hence, the application of sunblock with spf of 30-50 in the day would be crucial, especially in Singapore where we have strong sun all year round.
Can you combine retinol with other skin care products?
Absolutely. As mentioned, the combination with moisturisers are highly recommended. There are studies that have demonstrated improvement of skin thickness and quality by combining retinol with other agents like vitamin C.
There are also studies that demonstrated improvement of skin pigmentation and sun damage when combining retinol with Hydroquinone.
When in doubt , do check with your friendly dermatologist or aesthetic doctors.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)